Beginning Sunday, June 21st, churches in Ontario will be open and the faithful can begin to participate in Sunday Mass. As we come together again for the celebration of sacraments, we must be mindful that we are still in a period of pandemic, and we need to adhere to the reopening protocol to ensure safety and reduce the severity of a possible second wave occurring. We realize that the introduced changes and restrictions may cause some discomfort and inconvenience; therefore, we respectfully ask for your patience, humility and full co-operation as we begin this process of re-opening St. Teresa.
As Cardinal Collins indicated in his letter for reopening of churches, following reasonable restrictions to contain the virus is a matter of faith, charity and justice. We are mindful of the sanctity of every life as we use these guiding principles in our planning:
- I am my brother’s keeper. We are responsible for others. In justice, as well as charity, we must not recklessly endanger others or cause their death.
- Love your neighbour as yourself.
The Universal Application of Physical Distancing
In all cases, when community gatherings take place, or when individuals are using the church or other facilities, a physical 2 meters (6 feet) distance, is to be strictly maintained.
Dispensation from Sunday Mass Obligation
Cardinal Collins continues to provide dispensation from the Sunday Mass for those who may not be able to attend for health reasons or due to capacity restrictions. Circumstances that prohibit attendance:
- Anyone with a compromised health condition
- Anyone caring for a sick individual
- Anyone with symptoms of illness – a cough, fever etc.
Parish churches are not to exceed 30% of total capacity. St. Teresa's seating capacity is 750 people. 30% equals 225. With physical distancing of six feet required, and considering the layout of our church, we can accommodate 120 people per Mass. To ensure compliance with capacity restrictions, our parish will be using a “first come, first served” approach to determine the number of people permitted to enter the church building. A line up similar to what is done at other businesses currently open with limited capacity may be observed outside the church building.
Please note that only the main entrance will be open. The hospitality volunteers will keep count of the faithful as they come in and direct them to their seats. Seating will be staggered to promote two-metre (six-foot) distances. Seats are designated by tape markings. Families from the same household may be seated together but must be 2 m (6 ft) from any non-household members.
Disinfectant Hand Sanitizer Stations
Each parishioner will be directed to sanitize his or her hands before entering the church. A volunteer may also assist with dispensing sanitizer. Sanitizing stations are also available in the main aisle. Feel free to sanitize your hands prior to receiving communion as well.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available before Masses. Only one confessional (the one on the right-hand side of the church) is large enough to ensure physical distancing. Penitents are encouraged to wear a mask/face covering. They may take a seat or they may stand. First Friday of the month confessions will also be available in the Knights of Columbus hall.
It is strongly recommended that all faithful wear protective masks in the church at all times.
Once all parishioners have exited the church, all doors will be locked for cleaning. Cleaning volunteers will sanitize all pew fronts and the tops and sides of benches, entry and exit points as well as high traffic areas, and doorknobs, push bars, etc.
Holy Water Fonts
Holy water fonts are to remain empty until such time as they may be used safely.
To avoid surface contact, all hymnals and printed materials are removed from the pews. Bulletins will be posted electronically and not distributed at this time.
Washrooms are restricted to use when absolutely necessary only. No more than one person/family (living at the same address) at a time should use a washroom. A sanitizing dispenser is placed outside each washroom.
Celebration of the Eucharist
Music During Mass
Unfortunately, singing provides a significant opportunity for the projection of particles from the mouth. Parishioners attending Mass are asked not to sing at this time to minimize the potential spread of the virus.
There will be no collection taken during Mass. Please place your offering into the wooden box located in the centre aisle when you exit the church.
The dialogue between the priest and communicant occurs at a 2 m (6 ft) physical distance. After the dialogue, the communicant approaches the priest who carefully places the Body of Christ in the communicant’s hand without touching the person. Upon the strong recommendation of medical authorities, Holy Communion is received only in the hand at this time. The traditional practice of the option of receiving on the tongue will be restored as soon as the public health situation allows for that. Communicants are instructed to remove their masks, using the straps and without touching the front of their masks, while the person ahead of them is receiving Holy Communion.
All are asked to exit the church in an orderly way while maintaining physical distancing without spending social time with others at the door or in the parking lot.
I recognize there will be a period of adjustment and transition as we move to this new phase of operations. Thank you for your patience in this regard.
We also continue to remember in prayer those who have suffered during this period of pandemic and for all those who continue to care of them.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Given in Etobicoke, June 16, 2020