Dear Friends and Parishioners of St. Mary's,
Happy Feast of the Ascension! This past Monday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that churches could open in phase one of the state's reopening plan. While I am happy to hear that we will be able to resume public worship, I am also only willing to do so when we are ready to welcome our parishioners in a way that is safe and responsible.
I met with the parish council on Monday night and we began thinking about how we might reopen. They made some great recommendations to me, and one of them was to assemble a group of parishioners who are able to advise us on our reopening plan. We have contacted a group of parishioners who will assist, and this group consists of an epidemiologist, an infectious disease specialist, and a number of medical professionals, including a medical architect. This group will assist me in the process of reopening our parish for public worship, and I am grateful for their expertise and counsel.
I hope to be able to present our plan as soon as we have one, as I know many of you are eager to know when public Mass will resume. I can assure you that we are not ready for this coming weekend, and I'm hopeful that we might be ready for a "soft opening" next weekend, the Feast of Pentecost.
Please keep in mind that due to the governor's restrictions and in keeping with social distancing guidelines, we will not be able to accommodate large crowds for the foreseeable future and we will need to limit the number of attendees on a first come basis. Our Sunday Mass schedule will likely be modified to accommodate the time we will need to clean the church between Masses. Also, masks will be required for everyone in the church, excepting those who are excused for medical conditions.
In short, we're opening, but only when we're able to do so safely. And that will require teams of volunteers who are trained to assist with the new protocols. If you are interested in helping us out, please let us know by signing up on the Google Drive for Volunteers, which was posted on our Facebook page by Rachel Giorgio. There will be a training for volunteers in the coming days.
Fr. Jonathan Gaspar