COVID-19 PARISH UPDATES
COVID-19 LITURGICAL PRECAUTIONS
August 20, 2020
We want St. Thomas More to be a place where all can feel free to worship God and receive the Sacraments. As we welcome back our BGSU students, we will maintain strict precautions at some of our liturgies each week, while allowing for more moderate precautions at others. Having taken into careful consideration the recommendations from the US Catholic Bishops, the Diocese of Toledo, the State of Ohio as well as the advice of local medical professionals, both of these levels of precaution fall within the spectrum of current recommendations.
SATURDAY will be a day of “Strict Precautions” both during the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as at Holy Mass. On this day, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will take place in the Zaccheus Room with social distancing in place in the waiting area and in the confessional. The entrance to this space is located across the courtyard from the Church. At the Saturday 5pm Mass, all parishioners are expected to wear masks, to refrain from singing, and to receive Holy Communion only in the hand.
SUNDAY will be a day of “Moderate Precautions” where parishioners who attend Mass can expect that parishioners will be singing during the liturgy and there will be parishioners who chose to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. Masks are required to be worn at all times by order of Governor Mike DeWine. The 10:00am Sunday Mass will be live-streamed to our parish facebook page (facebook.com/sttomsbg) and will be posted later in the day here on our parish site.
The faithful continue to be dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.
Parishioners who are experiencing any symptoms of illness should stay home. - Parishioners who have had close contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19 should stay home. - Parishioners who are in a high-risk group are encouraged to stay home.
The best defense we have against infection is good hygiene. Washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds is best. The use of hand sanitizer is a good alternative when hand washing is impractical. - Hand Sanitizer is available at all entrances to the church. - Avoid touching your hands to your face to avoid the spread of disease. - The sign of peace continues to be suspended until further notice. Parishioners are reminded that holding hands during the Our Father is not appropriate. - Distribution of the Precious Blood is suspended until further notice. - Those distributing Holy Communion will sanitize their hands immediately prior to the Communion Rite. - Church is cleaned daily and between all liturgies.
Attendance at Mass is capped at 50% of our building capacity. - Parishioners are encouraged to maintain 6-feet of distance between households at all times before, during, and after the liturgy. - No collection will be taken up during the Mass. Parishioners are encouraged to drop a donation in the baskets provided, to donate via smartphone using the QR code in the worship aid, or to give online at the parish website. - Masks are available at the main entrance to church.
LITURGIES with STRICT PRECAUTIONS
HOLY MASS - SATURDAY AT 5:00PM
- All parishioners expected to wear Masks.
- Full musical accompaniment, but no congregational singing.
- Distributors sanitize hands immediately before Holy Communion.
- Distributors of Holy Communion will all wear masks.
- Reception of Holy Communion in the Hand is expected by all.
SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION - SATURDAY AT 4:00PM
- Temporary Confessional in the Zacchaeus Room
- Enter through Martin de Porres Waiting Room
- Behind the screen or Face-to-Face from 6ft away available.
- Also available at other times by appointment with custom precautions
LITURGIES with MODERATE PRECAUTIONS
HOLY MASS - SUNDAY AT 10AM, 5PM, 9PM
- Face coverings are required by order of Governor Mike DeWine.
- Full music, no hymnals. Disposable worship-aids provided.
- Distributors of Holy Communion will all wear masks.
- Reception of Holy Communion in the hand is not required.
HOLY MASS - WEEKDAYS AT REGULAR SCHEDULE
- Face coverings are required by order of Governor Mike DeWine
- No music or singing. - Only Clergy, wearing a mask, will Distribute Holy Communion.
- Reception of Holy Communion in the Hand is encouraged, but not required.
SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION - WEEKDAYS AT REGULAR SCHEDULE
- Confessions to take place in regular confessional.
- Solid barrier covering the screen to limit air exchange.
- Penitent may remain standing so as to minimize contact with surfaces.
- Also available at other times by appointment with custom precautions.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Are reservations required to attend Holy Mass?
A. No, reservations are not required at this time. We have not hit our 50% capacity yet, but we are set up for an overflow crowd in Seton Hall.
Q. What if the Church is full?
A. St. Thomas More has a smaller parish community than many churches of our physical size. Thus, while we have capped our attendance at 50% of our usual capacity, we have not yet reached that mark since reopening. In the event that there are no more spaces available which respect physical distancing requirements in the Church, we are set up to live-stream the Mass to Seton Hall (located across the courtyard from the Church) where Holy Communion will also be brought to those attending remotely.
Q. Why are you offering Holy Communion on the Tongue?
A. The universal norm is to receive the Sacred Host on the tongue and the faithful are not to be denied this legitimate option. Having consulted with the Office of Worship as well as with several local medical professionals in Bowling Green and Northwest Ohio, Father Jeff has been assured that there is no greater risk of viral spread when receiving Holy Communion on the tongue than receiving on the hand.
Q. Why are you requiring Holy Communion in the Hand on Saturdays?
A. Though we have been assured that there is no greater risk with Holy Communion received directly on the tongue, there are still a significant number of parishioners who are uncomfortable with the practice. At our Saturday Mass with Strict Precautions, we are expecting that everyone will receive on the hand for the sake of those concerned, so that they may receive Holy Communion with serenity.
Q. Why are we not distributing the Precious Blood from the Chalice?
A. The Church has always taught that we receive the entirety of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity even if we only receive the Consecrated Host, or only receive from the Consecrated Chalice. The Risen Lord cannot be divided. Out of an abundance of caution, we have suspended the distribution of Holy Communion from the Chalice during this time to prevent the sharing of germs.