My Dear People,
When St Lawrence Church was reopened for Sunday Mass (June 14, 2020) we placed some health protocols on our websites. Those directions for pubic worship were updated on November 23, 2020. Time will tell if the increasingly widespread inoculation of the general population with vaccines will begin to mitigate the spread, and danger, of the extremely-contagious Covid-19 virus. But in light of developments, there are some changes in the protocols issued by the Archdiocese of Boston. Some of what follows repeats our earlier notices, while some instructions are new. Please read carefully.
Mass is inherently a high-risk activity, given that it involves people gathering together indoors for an extended period of time. Volunteers and money spent are making churches as safe as possible, but it is still safer to stay home. We will respect anyone’s decision to stay home. Remember the obligation for Sunday Mass remains dispensed indefinitely in the Archdiocese of Boston. (The dispensation, however, has been lifted in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.) Many thanks to our members who have, and continue to, contribute to the cost of cleaning supplies and the air purifier equipment in the effort to keep St Lawrence church safe. Contributions should be clearly marked “cleaning fund.”
If you are 60 years of age or older, or have ongoing health conditions, you should consider avoiding Mass for the foreseeable future. And if you are not feeling well or have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19, you must stay at home. If after attending Mass you become ill with Covid symptoms, it is your responsibility to notify us so we may report the incident, (but not the name of any person who is ill) on our websites and to the local department of health. We have an obligation to support contact tracing.
If you decide to attend Mass, please do not arrive early, or enter the Church while cleaning is in progress. Entering early will delay or compromise the cleaning being done after the 9am Mass. Bring your own hand sanitizer/wipes. (Bringing your own disinfectant materials is a recommended extra precaution.) Face masks are required as absolutely necessary at all events on the properties of the Archdiocese of Boston, including parish grounds. These masks must be worn at all times (covering the mouth and nose) except when removed temporarily for reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Communion on the tongue is still not permitted. (Prior to administering Communion the priest disinfects his hands and assumes a face mask. (You should know that a temperature check of the priest and those assisting him at Mass is no longer required.) Enter the church from the parking lot using the left side doors (nearest the rectory). After Mass exit the right side doors into the parking lot. Maintain at least six feet of social distancing, and have two empty pews between you and the next worshippers. (The pews have been roped off accordingly.) Family members living in a common household may sit together. Congregational singing is still not permitted. Indoor spaces should be ventilated to the greatest extent possible, so please dress warmly. (You might consider sitting near one of the floor registers. The heat will be on!) Indoor non-worship gatherings are now permitted but limited to ten persons. Outdoor non-worship gatherings are limited to twenty-five persons.
These rules are to be reiterated at each gathering, (and at each Mass a specific protocol is given just prior to the administration of Communion.) Local law enforcement has the ability to levy fines for non-compliance of Commonwealth regulations. The Archdiocese of Boston also has authority to temporarily close one of its buildings should a deep cleaning become necessary. (This would involve extra expense and also possibly make the church unavailable for our use for a period of time.)
There is no indication the country is going to disengage from the various protocols in any kind of lock step coordination. We must all do our best to live with this state of confusion which may last for many months. While the protocols may be inconvenient and exasperating, we are grateful that while this extraordinarily dangerous pandemic continues, we still have the opportunity to offer Mass in corporate worship.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Father Richard S. Bradford