Dear People of God at St. Patrick Cathedral:
This next Sunday, May 3, is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. It is always dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd as we read from the tenth chapter of St. John’s gospel. This liturgical cycle’s passage is very appropriate for this year as it speaks of Jesus as the gate of the sheepfold: “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
It is with great joy that I invite all of you, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, to enter through Jesus as your gate as we begin a prudent, measured and deliberately phased re-opening of the Cathedral.
BEGINNING ON SUNDAY, MAY 3, Masses honoring the social distancing guidelines we are now all very familiar with will once again be celebrated. The six normal Sunday Mass times in the cathedral will be offered at 8 am, 9:30 am, 11 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm (Spanish), and 5 pm. The number of congregants will be strictly enforced in the church per civil authority’s requirements and social distancing.
The 8 am mass is reserved for those who are 60 years of age and older. This is so that they can feel comfortable with the knowledge that the church is freshly clean and sanitized. But, please remember that no one is under any obligation to attend mass. The obligation is dispensed with.
Once the church is at capacity given the requirements of social distancing (no less than six feet between each person or family unit), persons will be directed to the parish hall where they will be able to sit and watch mass live-streamed with sound on the large screen, again gathering according to the norms of social distancing.
Guidelines for attending Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral are:
- All participants will be required to wear a face mask or other face covering.
- There will be designated seating places. Family members may sit together.
- Holy Communion will be distributed to those in the hall at the designated time.
- Congregants will be led to designated places in an orderly fashion, minding social distancing.
- During communion, communicants will be allowed to go to communion row by row in an orderly fashion, minding social distancing, so that there is no bunching up of people in line.
- Communion will only be distributed in the hand.
- Dismissal from mass will also occur in an orderly fashion row by row, being mindful of social distancing, at the direction of the ushers.
If one feels that he or she cannot abide by these sensible and prudent precautions, they are invited to remain at home, watch the mass on social media and make a spiritual communion.
Please remember, that you are still under no obligation to attend mass during these unprecedented times, especially if you are ill, elderly, have a compromised immune system, or are fearful of exposing yourself to the virus. In fact, no one is obliged to come to mass during this time. The obligation is dispensed with. You do not have to come to mass. This is especially true for the elderly.
Because of the limit social distancing places on our church and parish hall’s capacity, communion will also be distributed in the parking lot to those in their cars in a drive up fashion, as was done before, at designated times.
- Communion will only be distributed in the hand as each car’s occupants get out to receive.
- Ministers will wear face masks.
- It is encouraged that those receiving communion also wear face masks which they will remove only to receive communion.
- Those in their cars will remain in their cars until motioned to get out to receive communion.
- The distribution of communion to those in their cars will take place in the drive way between the St. Ignatius building and the rectory.
- The times of the distribution to those in their cars will be from 9:30 am to 1 pm; 2:45 pm to 3:15 pm; and 5:15 pm to 6 pm. No parking will be available in the Rectory parking lot after the 8:00 am Mass.
Finally, all of the masses will be live-streamed:
The 11 a.m. Mass will be live-streamed on the Diocesan Website.
All other masses will be live-streamed on the St. Patrick Cathedral's Facebook page.
Again, one is not required to leave your home to attend mass or receive communion. The obligation is dispensed with. But, we are wanting to begin in a very measured and prudent fashion to offer that opportunity, being mindful of social distancing and good hygiene.
Please remember that this is a deliberate and methodical return to masses with a congregation and public celebration of the sacraments that underscores the need for prudence, wisdom and patience. We want to eventually be at a full return to our celebration of the sacraments. It will take some time and flexibility on all our parts. Perhaps think of it as a staircase which we must ascend slowly spending time at certain levels for a while as we acclimate given the current circumstances.
Thank you for your generous spirit of understanding and your grateful hearts. We journey together through the gate who is Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. John Robert Skeldon