Public Mass resumes on Sunday, May 31

Dear Friends,

What a great gift of the Holy Spirit that we will resume Sunday Masses together in St. Paul’s Church on the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 31. (7:30am, 9:30am, 11:00am)

As you can imagine, there are lots of things to do before that day. In the second part of this letter, I offer a more detailed plan (complete Mass schedule, confessions update, safe number of occupants per Mass, how to sign up/reserve a place at a particular Mass, necessity of wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, great need for volunteers to sanitize the church between Masses and to guide the flow of people before, during and after Mass, how to make a donation, how to receive communion, etc…)  You will be receiving a number of emails or notices on the website in the coming days and weeks, but it will be well worth it!

On one level, the experience of Mass together will be very different given the need for the care and safety of all.   But, at its core, it is Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever!

God bless you,
Fr. Kelly

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PS: On Saturday afternoon, May 30, at 4:00pm, the wonderful members of our RCIA group will be received into the church and receive the sacraments (the public Easter Vigil having been cancelled.)  This, unfortunately, is NOT a public Mass.  Please pray for them and their sponsors!  Beginning June 6, the Saturday 5:00pm Vigil Mass will return.

PPS: To add to the complexity, the year-long planned repair work on the Ascension frieze above the high altar will begin during the first week of June and last for at least two months.  Therefore, the entire sanctuary will be filled with scaffolding.  We could not postpone this necessary work any longer.

PPPS (is there such a thing?!):  If you would like a more detailed idea of what things will be like, read on!!

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Moving Forward:
A Primer for Mass at St. Paul’s in Harvard Square

As we know, life these days is changed, but not ended!  Here is a list of things that you can expect when you return to St. Paul’s for Mass.  We are so happy to have you back at Bow and Arrow Streets!  As you will hear many times, we are grateful for your patience and flexibility as we find what works best (it may take at least a few weeks.)  This could include requests for more volunteers, adjustments of communion procedures, entrance and exit practices, and may-be even change of Mass times and locations. The Archdiocese has made a video available with general norms, and I will offer one for Mass at St. Paul’s as well.

After May 31, Mass of the Lord’s Day is presently scheduled for: Saturday Vigil at 5:00pm, and Sunday at 7:30am, 9:30am and 11:00am.  These will be in the main church.

Daily Mass (Monday-Friday) will be at 12:10pm only (no 8:00am Mass) IN DIGIOVANNI HALL, which will open at 11:30am.

Saturday will be at 9:00am in DiGiovani Hall, opening at 8:30am.

The Church will be closed during the week for construction needs.

Confessions are still available by appointment.  We are considering other options as well, (though the confessional room and traditional confessional will not be usable for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned.)

Because of significant technological considerations and complications, we will not be able to live stream or video Masses once we return to public Masses.  We are grateful that CatholicTV and others provide this wonderful service.

  • The dispensation from the obligation to Sunday Mass is still in place.  At this time, you do not have to attend Mass.  If you are 65 or older and/or have any underlying medical concerns, you should not come to Mass right now.  Certainly, if you are ill, you must stay at home.  Parents have the discretion as to whether children should be present at this time.
  • You are asked to bring your own hand sanitizer and wipes for your pews. (Pews and common touch surfaces will be cleaned between Masses but this is an extra precaution.  A sanitizer will be on hand as it remains available.)
  • Masks/face coverings must be in place for all, with the exception of young children under two years of age, children under five who cannot manage, or those with other medical reasons.  ALL OTHERS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ENTER THE CHURCH WITHOUT A MASK.  We regret we cannot provide masks for those who arrive without their own.  Your mask will be worn throughout the ENTIRE Mass.
  • All will enter the church through the central doors, masks in place, and exit by the two side doors on the left and right of the vestibule (entrance lobby).  There can be no gathering in the aisles or vestibule.
  • Use of the elevator or the bridgeway is not permitted at this time.  We regret that the church will not be handicapped accessible at this time.
  • Social distancing of six feet is required at all times, except for family/household members presently living together at this time.
  • Because of the wide spacing required, we can only admit 120 people to each Mass.  You will have to reserve a seat:

For now, those without the proper registration form will not be admitted. We will monitor the situation and adjust as necessary.

  • You will sit only in rows and at the spots marked for that purpose.  Only those who currently live in one household may sit close together.
  • Hard for us at St. Paul’s, but there will be no Congregational singing for now. Organ and cantor will be present at some Masses.
  • There will be no formal Offertory collection.  Parishioners are encouraged to join the electronic giving program (easily available on the parish website.)  There will be baskets available at the doors for your weekly envelopes or cash contributions (no coins, please.)  We depend on your generosity!
  • For communion, you will follow the direction of the ushers.  There will be one, maybe two, communion stations.  You must maintain a six-foot distance from the person in front of you (follow the floor markings).  When you approach the priest/minister, you will extend one hand flat on top of the other, palm up.  You may only receive communion on the hand at this time.
  • The priest will be wearing a mask, as will you.  GLOVES MAY NOT BE WORN TO RECEIVE COMMUNION.  The priest will put the Body of Christ in your hand.  You will step to the side to the designated spot, lower your mask, and consume the host.
  • If the priest/minister makes any contact with your hand, they will stop immediately and sanitize the hand.
  • If you are not planning to receive communion, you may come forward for a blessing.  However, everyone in the pew must exit the pew so that people do not have to climb over/pass by another person.
  •  At the end of Mass, ushers will indicate when your row may exit.  Maintain a safe distance and do not stop in the aisle or in the vestibule.  Outside, keep your mask on and maintain a safe distance.
  • The bathrooms near DiGiovanni Hall will be available through the door off the front courtyard on the Mt. Auburn side. They will be cleaned between Masses.
  • No other spaces in the Parish Center or Harvard Catholic Center will be open to the public.
  • Again, use of the elevator or the bridgeway is not permitted at this time.  We regret that the church will not be handicapped accessible at this time.

It’s a lot to take in, I know.  But we will adapt as needed as we all become accustomed to these new procedures.

We have been advised over and over, be reverent, proceed slowly and be safe.

During these previous months, our hearts have become restless for the Eucharist and the joy of being together to worship God. We are inflamed with the Holy Spirit who makes Christ present and reveals the loving face of the Father. May God bless us, everyone.

Fr. Kelly