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Pastor's Letters

COVID RESTRICTION CHANGES COMING THIS WEEK

Updated: May 19, 2021

Given that the governor of the State of Connecticut has lifted nearly all COVID related restrictions in public

buildings as of May 19, Archbishop Blair has also released new general and liturgical guidelines for public Masses and other church related gatherings as of that date. What follows is my synopsis of the main points and how

we will see them implemented here in our parish beginning Pentecost weekend (May 22 - 23). Anyone who wishes to read the guidelines and the letter from the bishops of Connecticut in full can easily find them at


MASS OBLIGATION

As of the weekend of May 22-23, the archbishop has rescinded the blanket dispensation from attending Mass in

person on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation that has been in effect for well over a year now. That means, for

most Catholics, returning to Mass is now mandatory. However, the dispensation remains in place for individuals

at high risk for serious illness, those homebound or who are caregivers for the homebound, and those who are ill/

quarantined or who live with anyone who is ill or quarantined. If anyone has any questions about this, please feel

free to reach out to me directly. We will continue to livestream our Sunday and daily Masses, as we have been

doing, for the sake of those unable to attend in person, but for those who do not fall into one of these higher risk

groups, I remind you that watching a streaming Mass does not fulfill your Sunday/Holy Day obligation as of

next weekend.


RESTRICTIONS/GUIDELINES TO BE REMOVED

Social distancing will no longer be required, so the ropes that have been roping off every other pew will be removed. Hymnals will be returned to the churches. Congregational singing will be allowed, and choirs will resume (to the degree our choir members feel comfortable). Restrictions that previously prohibited entirely, or limited the size, of gatherings in our church halls are eliminated. Adults serving as lectors, sacristans, and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist can fully resume those ministries. Entrance and exit processions at Mass from the

back of the church will resume. The Sign of Peace will again be done at Mass, though for the time being it should

be done without physical contact (except with those with whom one lives.) Our ushers will once again be allowed

to take up the offertory collection at the proper time during Mass. The requirement to disinfect the pews after

every single Mass has been eliminated and replaced, per CDC guidelines, with a once a day disinfection. (Many

thanks to all the volunteers who have donated so much time over these many months wiping down our pews…

you all have been heroic in your generosity!)


SOME THINGS ARE NOT YET CHANGING

In light of the reality that the threat of COVID is, while lessened, not yet eliminated, the archdiocese has decided

that some of the safety precautions we have been using for these past months will remain in effect. The wearing

of masks while indoors (in any parish space) is still mandated by both the state and the archdiocese. The Holy

Water fonts in the vestibules will remain empty. The automated hand sanitizer stations in the vestibules will remain and we continue to urge everyone entering to take advantage of them. There will still not be an offertory

procession of the bread & wine at any Masses. The priests will continue to pray all of the prayers of the Mass

from the altar. Altar serving by our younger altar boys is still not permitted. Procedures for distributing/receiving

Communion remain unchanged, as will our current location and method of hearing confessions in each of our

churches. (At St. Mary’s we will be transitioning away from the St. Anne chapel and back to using the confessionals in the back of the church at some point, but that will not happen immediately.)


A FINAL WORD

On behalf of the other friars and our entire parish staff, I would like to thank everyone for their understanding,

patience, and flexibility over the last year. While we are not fully back to “normal” yet, these latest updates are a

big step in that direction. May the Lord continue to keep us all safe and healthy. And may the “greater normalcy”

of the weeks ahead help to lead us, individually and as a parish, to a greater growth in prayer, virtue, and holiness.

God Bless,

Fr. John Paul

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