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Father Anthony Yates distributed the Eucharist to during one of the first celebrated public Mass since the COVID-19 shut down at St. Francis of Assisi Parish church on Monday, May 18.
Father Anthony Yates distributed the Eucharist to during one of the first celebrated public Mass since the COVID-19 shut down at St. Francis of Assisi Parish church on Monday, May 18.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Archdiocese announces guidelines for the return of public Masses

Decision to offer Masses beginning May 18 will remain at discretion of each parish pastor

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson granted permission for public Masses to resume, at the discretion of each parish pastor, beginning Monday, May 18.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis issued guidelines for conduct and observing social distancing, and the archbishop’s general dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation will remain in place for all Catholics in the archdiocese until further notice. Parishes are encouraged to continue livestreaming Masses on digital platforms.

“I am filled with the joy of this Easter season to be able to once again reunite our faithful in the celebration of public Masses, centered around the Eucharist given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Carlson wrote in a statement. “I am grateful to our priests, deacons and all parish staffs for working closely with me and archdiocesan leadership to continue to guide parish communities in their faith journeys, while prudently following all protocols to keep God’s people safe and healthy.”

The decision to resume Masses, along with the accompanying guidelines, was made in consultation with the archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, the Missouri bishops and civil authorities. That collaboration will continue through May 18 and beyond, with decisions subject to change based on any new data provided by health officials.

Parishes that resume Masses have been asked to follow guidelines to observe social distancing and other health requirements. They include:

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte
GENERAL GUIDELINES

• Parishioners who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to another with the virus should not go to church, in accordance with national, state and local health directives.

• Attendees should take their temperature at home before determining whether they should attend Mass.

• Anyone over 60 years old and those with underlying health complications are encouraged to participate in Masses via livestream only.

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte
CLEANING, SANITIZING AND HYGIENE

• Appropriate cleaning of high-use areas within the church is to be completed before and after each service. A special grant from the Annual Catholic Appeal will help the Archdiocese to provide many

parishes with sanitation, hygiene and personal protective equipment supplies.

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte
CAPACITY/ATTENDANCE

• The number of people permitted to attend Mass will be determined by guidelines established by local officials and health departments.

Ask your pastor for details.

FACIAL COVERINGS

• The faithful are obliged to wear a mask during the celebration of Mass, except for a brief moment when receiving Communion.

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte

• Ushers and other volunteers will wear masks and gloves (when gloves are not available, frequent handwashing

will be necessary) throughout the celebration of Mass.

• Specific practices are required for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. More details are included under “Holy Communion” on next page.

OFFERTORY

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte
• Stationary baskets will be used for donations from the assembly and are to be monitored by the ushers until the donations are collected.

• Collection baskets should not be passed, nor will ushers take up the collection from the congregation.

• Please consider giving your offertory gift online.

SIGN OF PEACE
Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte

• The sign of peace has been suspended until further notice.

HOLY COMMUNION

• Communicants are to receive the Host in the hand, in keeping with the advice of state health officials and thereby to avoid the

Communion minister’s fingers coming into contact with saliva or particles exhaled from the communicants’ mouth onto the ministers’ fingers.

• Communion ministers must wear face coverings, must sanitize their hands immediately before and after distributing Communion, and when at all possible, should utilize a disinfectant wipe or purificator dipped in a sanitizing solution (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) to sanitize their fingers when incidental contact is made with the communicant.

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte
• Distribution of Holy Communion from the chalice is prohibited to the assembly. For those who have celiac disease, special arrangements are to be made with the pastor.

• When approaching the Communion minister, the communicant is to pull their mask below their chin in order to prepare to receive Communion as above. The communicant immediately replaces their mask after consuming the Host.

• Ushers or other volunteers who wear masks and gloves will ensure six-foot distancing in the Communion line.

• Floor markings shall be placed six feet apart in the aisles in which the congregation approaches the sanctuary for Communion to facilitate proper social distancing.

• Maintaining a single-file line is necessary for the distribution of Holy Communion for each Communion minister and communicant to maintain social distancing. Multiple Communion ministers may be used as long as one-way traffic patterns are observed.

OTHER GUIDELINES

• Pastors have been given authority to schedule First Communions, confirmations, weddings, funerals and baptisms — unless the local authorities are restricting public worship services — in keeping with the requirements of public safety.

• Social activities, such as coffee and doughnuts after Mass, will not take place. Families and individuals are asked to leave Mass together, wear facial coverings, and observe six feet of distance from others. Priests, deacons and others will not be able to greet parishioners after Mass, and bulletins or other materials should not be distributed after Mass.

>> ACA grant

A special grant from the Annual Catholic Appeal will help the Archdiocese to provide sanitation, hygiene and personal protective equipment supplies as they resume public Masses on May 18. Parishes have been asked to complete appropriate cleaning of high-use areas within the church before and after each Mass. Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, ushers and other volunteers have been asked to wear masks and take other precautions during Mass, such as frequent handwashing or using hand sanitizer.


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