A Note From Fr. Nelen

April 30, 2020

Greetings to all,

As we prepare to begin easing our way back into public Masses, I am asking everyone to please carefully and thoroughly read Bishop McKnight’s instruction for pastoral activities during the current pandemic.  It is titled “Update from Bishop McKnight, April 28, 2020,” and it can be found on our Cathedral website.  There you will find what needs to be done before, during, and after each of our Masses.  It will require a number of volunteers to make all this go smoothly, so if you are able and willing to help us, please know of my deep appreciation for your service.

It is important to note that everyone MUST wear a mask upon entering and exiting the Cathedral for Mass, and to wear your mask whenever you are not stationary in your pew, except for the brief moment of receiving Holy Communion.  The reason it is not necessary to wear a mask while seated in the pew is because you will be observing the necessary 6 ft. social distancing at that point.  Hence, no facial covering is needed.  At any other time, however, the mask is required since proper social distancing cannot be maintained or guaranteed.  Your mask doesn’t need to be of hospital quality; something made of cloth, a bandana, or a scarf will suffice.

In regards to the 6 ft. social distancing, members of the same family may sit together as they normally would at Mass.  There must be 6 ft. of space on all sides between one family group and another family or individual.  Please be aware that we may have to turn some people away if the Cathedral becomes so full that proper social distancing cannot be maintained.  Lots of patience will be required of us all during the weeks ahead.  In order to better accommodate those who desire to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, I am temporarily adding a 4:00 PM Sunday afternoon Mass to the weekend schedule, in addition to our normal 5:30 PM Saturday and 8:00 and 10:00 AM Sunday Masses.

The distribution of Holy Communion is going to take longer in order to keep the proper 6 ft. distance between each person or family in a single-file line.  Please remember: patience, patience, patience.  We will continue to have someone bring Communion to the back of church for those who are not able to walk up toward the altar.  A reminder of what to do will be provided during Mass, immediately prior to the distribution of Holy Communion.  An important note for the Eucharistic ministers assisting the priest and deacon: you are now required to sanitize your hands before and after the distribution of the Eucharist.

For those who need a low gluten Communion host, that process also needs to be adjusted.  A Communion minister who has not had any contact with the whole wheat Communion hosts will be stationed directly behind the priest on the first, wide step near the altar.  Anyone who cannot consume wheat gluten should come forward in their given line according to where you were seated, and upon reaching the front of the line, proceed directly up to the minister with the low gluten Communion hosts.  Do not attempt to go to the end of the Communion line as we have previously done.  We only want foot traffic moving in one direction.  You will also need to receive the low gluten Communion host in the hand.  Since that minister has not been in contact with the other whole wheat Communion hosts, there is no fear of cross-contamination.  Once everyone has received the Eucharist, the minister who is assisting with the low gluten Communion hosts will then receive Communion himself or herself.

The ushers will not take up the Sunday collection as normal.  Parishioners are encouraged to continue mailing in their contributions, or dropping off your envelopes at the parish office.  We will have two collection baskets near the main Cathedral doors as you exit, for those who wish to offer their contribution at Mass.  For everyone’s safety, I am asking you to enter and exit through the main front doors.  The side doors will be for emergency exit only.  People entering through the main doors will not need to touch any of the door knobs or handles, because those doors will be propped open before and after Mass.  There is too much risk of various individuals holding on to the railing on the stairs when entering or exiting through the side doors, which makes it a potential hot spot for spreading viruses.

Daily Mass times through the summer will be Monday through Friday at 6:30 AM, beginning on May 4th.  We will no longer have an 8:00 AM Mass on Wednesday.  Once school resumes for its fall semester, the school Mass will shift from Wednesday to Friday mornings at 8:00 AM.  More info on that change when we get into the month of August.

In response to suggestions received from the small groups engaged in the pastoral planning process, I will also offer opportunities for confession at varied times.  Beginning on May 9th, on Saturday afternoons, I will start hearing confessions at 4:30 PM.  I will then be available for confessions on Sundays, 30 minutes prior to the start of each Mass.  Hopefully, this will make it easier for people to go to confession without having to stand in a long line.

You will also notice that all of the hymnals and missalettes have been removed from the pews.  They will not be available for common use until the pandemic has ended.  If you need to have the printed readings, you are requested to bring them with you from home, such as your own copy of the Magnificat or The Word Among Us.  We will do our best to choose hymns that are familiar or have easy refrains to sing.

I know this is a lot to incorporate.  These are definitely uncharted waters for our Diocese, but we can always be thankful that the opportunity to gather as God’s people and receive the sanctifying grace of the Sacraments has been provided.  Continued Easter blessings and good health to you!

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Lou Nelen