This document is meant to provide a complete overview of our plan to begin to relax our Covid precautions now that the vaccine is available.
Rationale: Now that the vaccine is available, we will be following the lead of the State of Ohio and the permission of the Bishops of Ohio to take steps toward return to normalcy at Mass. Those who attend Mass are encouraged to stay informed about relevant Center for Disease Control Guidelines and to follow them. Our goal is to welcome as many people back to Mass as possible. Flexibility is the name of the game. Please be patient with us as we journey into yet another unknown chapter of this pandemic. All of these changes are subject to future change if necessary.
Encouragement to Get Vaccinated: Following the encouragement of Bishop Brennan to the entire diocese, I strongly encourage those who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated for the sake of the common good. With that said, I have no intention to have a “vaccination requirement” attached to any activity here at Saint Paul Church. And, I respect the decision of those who for matters of conscience (whether that be due to ethical concerns related to the production of the vaccine and/or concerns about the safety of the vaccine) choose not to get vaccinated.
Obligation to Attend Mass: The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation resumed the weekend of June 5-6 for Catholics in the State of Ohio. I encourage you to read the Bishop’s Letter.
Mass Times: We have no immediate plans to change our regular Mass schedule. We celebrate Mass at 8:30 AM Mass Monday through Saturday; a 6:40 AM Mass on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we also have a 6:15 PM Mass. Our weekend Mass schedule includes: Saturday Vigil Masses that are celebrated at 4:00 and 6:0 PM; Sunday Masses at 8:00 and 10:00 AM, 12 Noon and 5:00 PM. Our 8:30 a.m. Masses, 4:00 PM Vigil Mass, and 10:00 AM Sunday Masses are livestreamed on Facebook and on YouTube.
Location of Mass: We will discontinue using the Klinger Center for Mass for the 4:00 PM and 8:00 AM Mass times. We will evaluate the necessity of the 10:00 AM Mass in the Klinger Center over the next couple of weeks.
Livestream Masses: We will continue to livestream the 8:30 AM Mass Monday through Saturday, and the 4:00 PM Sunday Vigil Mass (Saturday Evening) and the 10:00 AM Sunday Mass. We will be discontinuing the livestreaming of the other Saturday evening and Sunday Masses.
Masks and Social Distancing: As you will see, while we have removed the cones and the spacers from the Nave (the pews in the main area of the Church) and the South Transept (when facing the altar, the pews on the left) and face masks and face shields are optional in these areas. Everyone is encouraged to follow relevant health guidelines regarding the wearing of masks. The North Transept (pews to the right of the altar) will continue to have spacers and every other pew seating for those who are not fully vaccinated and/or those who elect to socially distance. We will also be asking people to wear masks in the North Transept. We will adjust our COVID precaution area according to demand.
Dedicated COVID precaution sections: For as long as we judge necessary, we will be maintaining our COVID precautions in the North Transept for all of our parish Masses. This includes the social distancing in the pews, the requirement to wear masks, and the ever other pew spacing. Masks will be required to enter the doors on the North Transept. We will also reserve some pews in the back of the nave for any disabled parishioners and their families who may wish to have the COVID precautions and the option of sitting in the Nave.
Confessions: Confessions will remain in the lower level for the foreseeable future in order to allow the penitent the opportunity to go to confession in a socially distanced environment.
Holy Water and the Baptismal Font: We will be filling the baptismal font with Holy Water as there is a circulation of the water and a UV filter. (The year of inactivity has created some leaking issues with the font. We believe we have it fixed. We will have to drain it again if leaking occurs). We will not be filling the other holy water fonts until we are given permission to do so.
Various Changes to the Elements of the Mass: As a continuing precaution we do not have permission at this time for the distribution of the Precious Blood. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will be wearing masks for the time being. We will return to two lectors at Mass as our scheduling system permits and altar servers will begin to resume their normal pre-COVID duties. The offertory collection will continue to make use of collection baskets placed where the plastic bowls were previously. We will continue to suspend the passing of the basket for the time being. The offertory procession and bringing up the gifts will return when the collection returns to the Mass. (Many have opted to give electronically via WeShare. To do so, text stpaulohio to the number 800-950-9952 to arrange a weekly, monthly or one-time donation or go to https://stpaulcatholicchurch.weshareonline.org/.) Furthermore, we will no longer be cleaning after every Mass with volunteer parishioner labor and will continue the regular cleaning of the Church by our maintenance department. The Choir plans on returning in the fall. We will continue to publish the readings and hymns in the bulletin through the summer and will evaluate bringing back the hymnals in the fall.
Children’s Liturgy of the Word: We have no plans to return the Children’s Liturgy of the Word. While the custom has a long history here, I am not comfortable having the parish assume “care and custody” of young children without a system of paperwork, permissions, emergency contacts, etc. I will be working with the staff to encourage an environment at all of the parish masses where parishioners with young children feel comfortable and welcome to bring their families to Mass. We will also be exploring ways to equip parents to confidently bring their children to Mass and to help our children participate in a more meaningful manner. It is my desire that families with children attend Mass together and stay together throughout the entire Mass. It is also my desire that families with children are made to feel welcome by all parishioners. We are called to be a child-friendly and family-friendly parish.