Oklahoma’s Catholic bishops are resuming public Masses in all parishes beginning on May 18.
They issued a set of procedures for every parish to follow. Father Jack, Father Vince, and parish leadership are ready to implement those procedures at the Church of Saint Mary.
Staying home is okay. Many parishioners say they are planning on staying home to watch the live stream. Some say they are vulnerable. Others say they don’t feel safe yet. That’s fine. There is no obligation to attend Sunday Mass. We want you to be both safe and comfortable.
Attending Mass: At daily Mass, we will maintain good social distancing. For those who wish to attend Sunday Mass, it’s important to follow the instructions of the ushers. There are three important things to know:
- Allow additional time to enter the church.
- Know that priests will distribute Communion in the pews.
- At the end of Mass, the congregation will be dismissed pew by pew.
Seating at Mass: Good social distancing requires us to remain six feet from our neighbor. If everyone were to maintain that distance, only one hundred twenty parishioners could attend Mass. The good news is that we designated four sections of pews for family seating (marked in red in the diagram). It raises the church’s capacity to about two hundred eighty people still maintaining social distancing.
Full Procedures for resuming public Masses
As many of you know, we are reopening for mass the weekend of May 23rd-24th. We give thanks to God that we will be able to assemble as a community and receive the Eucharist again.
That being said, attending Mass will not be quite the same as we’re used to. There will be necessary procedures to follow, and so I ask for your continuing patience and cooperation.
It is our responsibility to make sure we maintain a safe environment that is comfortable for you and your family as we come together to worship as a parish family.
Below you can find the procedures employed to help maintain that safe environment for everyone.
The procedures listed below were issued by Bishop Konderla and Archbishop Coakley and were prepared for them by a task force of Oklahoma clergy and lay persons. They were designed to conform to the guidelines and mandates of the State of Oklahoma and Tulsa County.
Procedures are broken down to BEFORE MASS, DURING MASS, and AFTER MASS to help understand how we can all help each other in our worship.
First off, the obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Mass is, for the time being, still dispensed for all Catholics in the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma.
Those Catholics who are vulnerable due to age or underlying health conditions are encouraged to remain at home or to attend a weekday Mass.
Also, those who are sick or feel sick must not attend public Mass.
Those whose jobs require them to be in constant contact with others, such as workers in healthcare, personal care, food service, etc. should wear a mask and take the same precautions you use professionally when attending Mass. We ask this out of charity for others as Mass and to do their part to help prevent contagion.
The Mass times are as follows: Weekday Masses will be held in our Church at 6:30 AM. Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM Tuesday-Friday, and 8:00 AM Saturday. Sunday Masses will be celebrated at 5:00 PM on Saturday and at 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM on Sunday.
Daily Mass at 9:00 AM and Sunday Mass at 10:30 AM will continue to be livestreamed.
9:00 AM Daily Mass on Wednesday will be reserved to those in our community who are vulnerable, immunocompromised, or over 60 years old to ensure their safety and health. If you meet these parameters and you come to this mass, you are also required to wear a mask. The caretakers of those in this demographic are also welcome to Mass, providing they take the same precautions.
You are highly encouraged to bring and wear your own masks or face coverings to be worn throughout the liturgy.
You are also encouraged to bring your own form of sanitizer to sanitize your hands before and/or after Mass; however, we will have hand sanitizer at the entrances/exits to the church.
There will be no congregating before Mass in the vestibule.
Seating for Sunday and Saturday Vigil Mass will be on a first-come/first-seated basis, because we are required to limit the number of persons in our church space.
In concern for your safety and to ensure proper social distancing, entering and exiting the Church will take more time than normal. We ask that you schedule about 10 minutes of extra time to ensure a timely placement in the Church.
At the outside entrances of the Church, there will markers on the floor where you can wait at an appropriate social distance until it is your turn to enter. A greeter should be there to meet you and direct you.
When is it your turn in the queue, a hostess or host will greet you and ask the number of people in your household who will be seated together.
At that point, an usher will guide you to your seat, depending on your household size and mobility needs.
We do not expect to reach maximum capacity in the first few weeks, but in the event that we do, we have taken measures to deal with the overflow. We will evaluate the overflow procedures weekly to accommodate safely the number of people who come to each Mass.
You may also choose to remain in your car and live-stream the Mass on your smart phones, and then come into church to receive Communion. If you should choose this option, please let an Usher or Host know.
Our ushers will play an especially important role in keeping us safe and in directing our movement within the Church. Please be patient and kind to them as they direct you to your seats.
Unfortunately, because of spacing requirements, you may not be able to sit in your usual places, and know that we will give priority to those with physical limitations.
Please do listen to the instructions of the ushers, and remember that all of this is a temporary measure.
We ask that you respect the boundaries indicated in the pews. They are measured out for proper social distancing, and pews that are blocked off are meant to remain empty to facilitate the distribution of communion.
Restrooms will be available and sanitized for your use.
In terms of music, there will be no singing at the 8:00 AM Sunday mass, and limited singing at the rest of the masses.
There will be secure boxes on either side of the baptismal font where you can drop off your offertory. Alternatively, you can give your offering to an usher and they can take care of it.
The sign of peace will be omitted. After the priest offers the sign of peace to the people and the people respond, the Mass will continue with the Lamb of God.
Holding hands during the Our Father is prohibited as it is not part of the liturgy of the Mass.
For the distribution of Holy Communion, instead of forming lines, the Eucharistic Minister will come to you. Please remain in your pew, and the minister will come through the empty dividing pews and give you the Eucharist.
Those receiving communion are strongly encouraged to receive the Eucharist in the hand as a temporary measure during the pandemic and as an act of charity toward the minister of Communion and the other communicants.
For those who will receive on the tongue, we ask that you go to the back of the Church to the baptismal font and wait for a Eucharistic minister to come and give you communion. Please indicate this to the usher as you are seated so that you can exit your pew with minimal disruption at communion.
Eucharistic Ministers will sanitize their hands before and after distributing communion, and will be required to wear masks as they distribute.
The ushers will also help at the end of Mass as we dismiss row-by-row, beginning at the back to avoid crowding at the doors.
There should be no congregating after Mass whether in the Church or in the vestibule.
Once outside, feel free to engage others, but once again, we ask that you be respectful of others’ concerns and observe appropriate social distancing,
Doors will be propped open for entrance and exit into the Church so no one should have to touch the door handles.
The ministers (Ushers, Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, etc.) for each Mass will remain the same for the first few weeks until we have the procedures secured. Once again, this measure is taken to ensure the safety of all attending Mass.
Where possible, there will be hand sanitizer placed near the doors of the Church.
The Church will be cleaned and sanitized by our staff before and after each Mass.
There will be no holy water fonts, but there will be pre-filled and pre-blessed holy water bottles near the entrances in the Church. You are free to grab one as you go.
With all these measures and precautions, we will re-assess after a few weeks. Things are subject to change, and could change rapidly, so we ask for your patience as we navigate coming together again as a community.
Again, we look forward to welcoming you back and appreciate your cooperation and patience as we strive to do this in a way that ensures everyone’s safety.