Dear Parishioners of St. Anselm's Parish
As you may be aware, Premier Ford has announced that places of worship may reopen on Friday June 12th with a cap of 30 percent of seating capacity. Because we are now entering into the summer months and we don't have air conditioning, we will be utilizing the main floor; we have the room for 86 single people with 2 meters (6 feet) physical distancing. I will provide more details in the coming paragraphs.
The Archdiocese has requested, if at all possible, that our people be given the opportunity for private prayer this coming Sunday, June 14th, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. St. Anselm's will be open for parishioners to pray privately from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon. There will be designated seating for this prayer so that proper cleaning and sanitizing can take place following the closing at noon. Access to the basement is not permitted at this time and the main floor washroom is confined to urgent use only.
While I am truly looking forward to seeing you again, it is important to share with you the conditions we must meet in order to stay safe. We must remind ourselves that we remain in stage 1 in the GTA. Opening our churches does not mean the pandemic is over. Not by a long shot!
The church will reopen on Wednesday morning at 7:45 a.m. so that we may begin celebrating Mass at 8:15 a.m. The church will remain open until 10:00 a.m. and will then be closed for sanitation and cleaning in preparation for the next morning. The church, altar and washroom must be properly cleaned and sanitized after each event. Daily Mass will be celebrated next week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings and we will resume our daily schedule from Tuesday to Friday during the following week. Opening will remain consistent at 7:45 a.m. and closing at 10:00 a.m. Weekend Masses will remain as 5:00 p.m. with an opening at 4:30 p.m., 9:00 a.m. with an opening at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. for 11:00 a.m. with a closing at 12 noon for Sunday sanitizing. Remember the church must be sanitized after each celebration or use.
If you wish to attend Mass or pray in the church, you and your family must be in good health. If you have a fever, or anyone in your house has a fever, you must stay home. This means that anyone planning to come to Mass must have their temperature taken. If you have cold symptoms – cough, runny nose or sore throat – stay home. If you have been exposed recently to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 you must stay at home. If you have been staying at home and still feel that it is unsafe for you to attend, it is perfectly acceptable and wise to stay at home. If you have young children who will squirm and want to move around, breaking physical distancing, you may wish to stay at home. The Archbishop has lifted Sunday obligation for those who do not feel well or for those who are vulnerable.
This is a new virus and our knowledge, understanding and response to it is changing as our health experts have learned about it. We are adjusting to the whole new reality of physical distancing: what we do when we go grocery shopping is what we need to do when we go to Church.
When you arrive at church we strongly encourage you to wear a mask. The mask protects others from anything that you may be carrying and health officials are saying the wearing of masks may assist in warding off a second wave of Covid 19. This is an opportunity for disciples to live out the teachings of Jesus - loving God, loving neighbour before looking after myself. No one likes wearing a mask but they help others stay well.
We have marked off seats so that people will be able to maintain a physical distance of six feet. We can safely accommodate 86 single people and keep everyone six feet apart Families may sit together, if they live in the same dwelling. There will be a count as people arrive and are taken to their seats. Once the number has been reached, people will be not be admitted. It is recommended that any seniors may want to attend the 5:00 p.m. Mass on Saturdays, those with a last name from A to L may come on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and those with a last name beginning with M to Z at 11:00 a.m.
While there will be washroom access you are strongly encouraged to go to the bathroom before you leave the house. Remember what your mother drilled into you. "But I don't have to go. Yes you do." Mom was right. In order that washroom use will be limited, please do not bring juice boxes or any food into the church. Water may be used for medicinal purposes. Anything that you bring into the church must leave with you.
So, to summarize so far, before you come to church, go to the washroom, wash your hands, take your temperature and bring your mask. Hand sanitizer will be made available to you as you enter the Church.
You will enter by the Millwood entrance and exit by the MacNaughton lobby. This keeps the flow of traffic moving in one direction. If you need to use the ramp to get into the church, you will be helped.
The liturgy will be celebrated in a manner that promotes physical distancing and maintains peoples sense of safety. There will not be an Offertory Procession or a collection taken up during the celebration of Mass. Barrig will be more than happy to receive your envelopes as you exit the church through the MacNaughton lobby The reception of Holy Communion will be different. I will explain it to you when Mass begins. The Bishops of Ontario have agreed the Holy Communion can only be received on the hand. Hand to mouth contact is not healthy. Again, we are in a pandemic that has made people seriously ill and killed others.
If you wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation please call the office and make an appointment.
Our relationship to God is what finally defines us. The day to day living of the Gospel leads to life. Many people have lived with great fear and anxiety. There has been much suffering and death. Our coming together presents new challenges but is also an opportunity for hope. In many ways, we are learning to walk again. Baby steps at first. Babies need support as they take those steps. Babies fall down and go boom, but with the proper coaxing they get up and do it again. With applause and smiles they finally get it right.
Let us try our best. It will not be perfect. We will have to learn new ways but being able to walk upright again is our goal.
May we listen to the promptings of God Spirit and walk in God's wisdom and goodness. Amen