Dear Parish Family,
I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy. As you may have seen, Bishop Richard Pates recently shared our multi-phased plan for reopening churches in the Diocese of Joliet. CLICK HERE TO VIEW A VIDEO MESSAGE FROM BISHOP PATES.
- Phase I allows for parishes to reopen for Baptism, Reconciliation, Weddings and Funerals with a limit of TEN attendees.
- Phase IA allows for parishes to reopen for private prayer and adoration with a limit of TEN attendees.
- Phase II allows for reopening for weekday and weekend Masses for larger groups depending on the guidelines which will be issued by the State of Illinois at a later date, and the capacity of the church building.
Our Reopening Plan
First and foremost, it is important for everyone to understand that our efforts will prioritize the safety and well-being of all while maintaining due respect and reverence for the sacraments and liturgical norms of our faith.
I have assembled a Parish Reopening Leadership Team to lead our efforts. We participated in required training from the Diocese to ensure that our parish reopening plan conforms to the guidelines developed by the Diocese in collaboration with civil and healthcare authorities. We have also obtained protective and cleaning supplies, as well as guidance on purchasing/maintaining supplies ongoing. Under direction of the Diocese, we are first focusing on readying St. Thomas for celebrations of Eucharist.
Our single biggest challenge is for sufficient volunteers to assist with various aspects of our parish reopening plan. Importantly, leadership team members and volunteers must not be part of a “vulnerable population” (no underlying medical condition such as diabetes; lung treatment, etc.) Those over the age of 60 should consult with the Parish Leadership Team about possibly serving as a volunteer. I ask all of you who are younger than 60 and healthy with no underlying health conditions to consider assisting with one of three re-opening teams. I especially encourage high school, college students as well as young adults to volunteer and serve on teams.
- Set-up team. Sample duties include ensuring that all supplies needed for each sacramental celebration/gathering are ready for use, entrances and exits are marked and propped physically open prior to attendees’ arrival/departure, windows are opened, etc.
- Greeting team. Sample duties include assisting in managing the flow of congregants using social distancing norms as they enter the church, making sure attendees use hand sanitizer upon entering, are wearing a mask, and are reminded not to enter if ill; directing people to appropriate seating/waiting areas, etc.
- Cleaning team. Sample duties include maintaining and cleaning essential and trafficked areas of the church before and after the church has been used. Masks and gloves will be provided, if you do not have your own, in addition to approved cleaning/disinfecting supplies.
The Reopening Leadership Team and I will make sure that all volunteers are properly trained. Please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate your willingness and ability to volunteer. From those that step forward, we will also request that some act as volunteer captains to help lead each of the three teams.
Timing for Our Reopening
The Parish Reopening Leadership Team has begun the tasks assigned to all parishes as part of a reopening certification process to be approved by the Diocese. Our parish, like all others in the Diocese, will move forward at a pace and timing appropriate for our situation. As I mentioned earlier, we cannot complete certification without a sufficient number of trained volunteers. Please read the reopening document on our parish website for general information.
Following our training and certification approval at St. Thomas, we will only open our church once the Reopening Leadership Team and I feel confident that we have the right volunteers in place to make it possible to reopen. Again, the need for parishioner assistance cannot be overstated.
Because we must limit the number of attendees to minimize the risk of the spread of disease, and in order to avoid “turning people away” at our doors, we will establish an online registration system at stapostle.org. We are requiring parishioners to visit this page so that your seat is reserved and we know how many attendees to expect at Mass. We ask you to be patient as we establish this new system, and further ask that you be understanding as we try to make the Mass available to all who wish to attend under these limitations. To ensure that we have enough trained volunteers, we are temporarily limiting Masses to 4:30 on Saturday and 9:30 on Sunday. Once we have enough volunteers, we will expand the Sunday Mass schedule. Please note that the online virtual masses will continue to be offered.
The guidelines and measures required to reopen are designed to protect our well-being and that of our broader community. It is good to note that we do this together as from the first pages of Scripture we learn that we indeed are “our brother’s keeper.” Jesus prayed, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21) and commanded us to “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). Our collective patience, willingness to help and the care we take to reopen is a demonstration of our unity and love for one another.
May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways. If you have any questions, please contact me at 630.355.8980, x102 or email@example.com.
In the Word,
Rev. Philip M. Danaher, Pastor
Fr. Danaher’s letter as a PDF
Diocese of Joliet’s Tips for Worshipers
Church Re-Openings Phase I and II
Diocese of Joliet Phased Re-Opening Plan
May 13 Letter from our Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Pates