Introductory Letter from Fr. Nick
Dear Parishioners: Here is our parish plan for the phased reopening of St. Matthew for the public celebration of Mass and other sacraments. The plan was developed under Archdiocesan directives and following State and Marion County guidelines and protocols for the health and safety of all. The reopening of our parish happens in three phases as the Archdiocese directs, but on our own local timetable for St. Matthew. The plan was developed by the Parish Pastoral Staff with important input from the Parish Pastoral Council.
What we want everyone to know is that, even under the prescribed health and safety restrictions, we want to be as welcoming and open to all as we possibly can. Jesus’ mandate to his disciples is that the Gospel is for all people. Jesus came for the salvation of all and all are welcome to the Table of the Lord. However, sometimes life and its circumstances present us with real challenges in living out the Gospel of love and service.
It pains my heart very much to have to encourage our faithful parish members who are 65 or older or who have high-risk health conditions to remain home and instead join us in our Eucharist through our live-streamed 10 a.m. Sunday Mass. It goes against every fiber of my Christian soul to have to be restrictive with the celebration of the Mass. However, I believe we need to see this from the perspective of Christian charity and love. We do not want to expose you unnecessarily to anything that might make you extremely sick or possibly threaten your lives. Does this mean we will refuse you a Sunday Mass reservation if you want to come? NO! We want to be welcoming, but it is at your own risk of exposing yourself to the devastating effects of the coronavirus.
Certainly, all those who are ill, running a fever, know they are symptomatic with the coronavirus, or have tested positive for COVID-19 must stay home and not join your brothers and sisters in the faith for the celebration of the Eucharist. However, this should be the norm all of the time. Under normal circumstances, no one who is sick in any way is obligated to attend the celebration of Sunday Mass. Again, we do this out of Christian charity and love for others, not wanting to make them sick.
Out of the love for others that Jesus asks of us, we need to observe a safe-capacity plan for public worship, space out families and individuals by adhering to the six square feet distance rule, and ask people to make a reservation to come to weekend Mass. This seems so counter to Christian hospitality and welcoming, but when you think about it, it really is not, due to the unusual situation we are living in now. We know that risk comes from close and prolonged contact in large groups. Out of love for each other, we limit the number who can attend, and we space ourselves out at the distance prescribed by the health authorities.
Finally, because we love each other, we encourage all to wear face masks, bring hand sanitizer, and not to congregate in the narthex, thus causing danger to oneself and others, because of close proximity. Does this mean we can’t even greet each other? Of course not, but we do so maintaining the proper social distancing and by not forming a crowd where we are close to others. Therefore, we are asking all to enter the church immediately and to leave immediately after Mass. Socializing outdoors is certainly safer, but again please respect social distancing out of love for all.
Please understand that the restrictive protocols the Archdiocese asks us to observe are not because we want to be unwelcoming or to say some people are more welcome than others. We observe these measures out of a true concern for the health and safety of all, especially those most vulnerable, because of our Christian love and charity.
Finally, please continue your prayers that God will see us safely through this pandemic, as we make sacrifices for the health and safety of all. Pray that God will see fit to shower his graces on us and guide us to the medical wisdom that will bring the threat of the coronavirus to an end. As Pope Francis has asked to do during this month of May, we pray especially for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us in this cause. God bless all with good health and well-being, Fr. Nick
I. GENERAL ARCHDIOCESAN PRINCIPLES AND DIRECTIVES
THOSE WHO ARE 65 AND OVER AND THOSE WITH HIGH-RISK HEALTH CONDITIONS ARE ENCOURAGED TO REMAIN AT HOME. THIS POPULATION IS MOST VULNERABLE TO THE CORONAVIRUS AND COVID-19.
OF COURSE, THOSE WHO ARE SYMPTOMATIC OR HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 SHOULD NOT ENTER A CHURCH UNTIL RELEASED TO DO SO BY THEIR HEALTH-CARE PROFESSIONAL.
THE DISPENSATION FROM THE OBLIGATION TO PARTICIPATE AT MASS ON SUNDAYS IS EXTENDED IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF INDIANAPOLIS AND THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF INDIANA UNTIL AUGUST 15, 2020.
PLANS FOR THE PUBLIC CELEBRATION OF MASS MUST PRIMARILY UTILIZE THOSE UNDER 65 YEARS OF AGE AND WITHOUT HIGH-RISK HEALTH CONDITIONS AS LITURGICAL MINISTERS (EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS, LECTORS, CANTORS, MUSICIANS, AND USHERS).
FOR THE TIME BEING, THE ARCHDIOCESE IS ENCOURAGING THAT THE USE OF ALTAR SERVERS BE DISCONTINUED TO ALLOW THE LEAST NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THE SANCTUARY, TO ALLOW THE LEAST NUMBER OF HANDS TOUCHING SACRED VESSELS AND LINENS, AND FOR SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCING.
GATHERING OR CONGREGATING WITH OTHERS BEFORE OR AFTER MASS IN GATHERING SPACES SUCH AS A NARTHEX IS PROHIBITED.
II. PHASES OF ST. MATTHEW CHURCH REOPENING
IMPLEMENTED 1. Phase 1: Reopening of Church for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Private Prayer
a. Reconciliation will be held every Saturday, starting Saturday, May 30, from 4 until 4:30 p.m.
b. The church will be opened at 3 p.m. to allow for private prayer, meditation, and preparation for the Sacrament.
c. Parishioners are encouraged to wear face masks and bring their own hand sanitizer (small pocket bottle).
d. The Sacrament will be celebrated in the Daily Mass chapel to maintain the safe social distancing of six square feet.
e. Parishioners are to wait outside the chapel door, keeping six feet between each other if a line forms.
f. When celebrating the Sacrament in the chapel with the priest, the parishioner may remove mask if one so wishes, of course maintaining strict distancing of six feet.
IMPLEMENTED 2. Phase 2: Reopening for the Public Celebration of Weekday Mass and the Resumption of Public Weddings, Funerals, and Infant Baptisms
a. Weekday Mass will resume Tuesday, June 2, observing all State and Archdiocesan directives and the parish’s safe-capacity plan.
b. Weekday Mass for the time being will be celebrated at 9 a.m., Tuesday through Friday. There will be no Wednesday evening Mass or Adoration until further notice. There will be no Communion Services.
c. To observe the directives of the safe-capacity plan, weekday Masses will be celebrated in the main church.
d. Parishioners are encouraged to wear masks and bring their own hand sanitizer.
e. During this phase, plans for Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals may resume and move forward, observing the safe-capacity plan of the parish and all health, safety, and social protocols.
IMPLEMENTED 3. Phase 3: Reopening for the Public Celebration of Sunday Masses
a. Public celebration of weekend Masses will resume on the first weekend of June, June 6/7.
b. The will be done under the parish’s safe-capacity plan and under Archdiocesan and civil directives and mandates.
c. Mass times for the weekend will be as follows: Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and noon. This spacing is to allow for sanitizing and cleaning after each Mass as mandated by the Archdiocese and the State. We will continue to live-stream Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. at http://saintmatthewparish.yourstreamlive.com.
d. As with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and weekday Masses, parishioners are encouraged to wear masks and bring hand sanitizer.
e. There will be no passing of the basket for the collection and no presentation of gifts. Baskets will be placed at the entrance of the church for the collection.
f. Before Mass, either pastoral associate Loral Tansy or Fr. Nick will explain the basic protocols for reception of Holy Communion. Six feet distance between each person is to be respected.
g. Liturgical music: Only one musician and one cantor are allowed, and all hymnals, missalettes, and any other materials are to be removed from church.
III. GENERAL PARISH PRINCIPLES
1. The Archdiocesan guideline for a parish safe-capacity plan for the public celebration of Mass is 20/30% of church capacity. This is in the process of being calculated. The church’s full capacity is 600, without the chapel.
2. However, as was emphasized at our Zoom Parish Council meeting, Mayor Hogsett’s directive for Marion County is no more than 25 persons for public indoor gatherings, such as religious services. This directive is set to expire June 1. However, the Mayor can extend this directive if he deems it necessary, and if he does, we will have to observe the lower capacity number.
3. The only way we saw to be fair in letting people celebrate weekend Mass, if they so wish, is by a RESERVATION SYSTEM. Marie Carson of our parish staff volunteered to oversee this process. She and Loral Tansy will be working out the details. This reservation may be placed by phone or e-mail. The particulars to make a Mass reservation are described at the end of this plan under Important Notes.
4. We see reservations as unnecessary for the weekday Masses because not that many attend.
5. Parishioners are encouraged to wear masks and bring hand sanitizer to public worship services and celebration of the Sacraments.
6. It is encouraged that reception of Holy Communion be done by hand at both weekday Mass and Sunday Mass. Reception by tongue is discouraged for obvious health and sanitary reasons.
7. No one should feel obligated to receive Holy Communion if he or she feels uncomfortable doing so.
8. The physical sign of peace, the holding of hands at the Lord’s Prayer, and communion from the chalice remain suspended by Archdiocesan directive.
Weekend Mass Reservations: Please contact Marie Carson at 317-727-4641 (leave voicemail with your information if no answer) or email her. Please be sure to (1) give the date/time of Mass you want to attend and (2) the number of people attending. All voicemail and email requests will be confirmed within 24 hours. Because of seating capacity restrictions, your reservations must be confirmed.
Liturgical Ministers: All ministers will be assigned and contacted. There is no minister schedule for now.
Bulletins: We will continue to publish our bulletin as an e-bulletin only. We are taking this step to adhere to health guidance from the State. This guidance recommends that places of worship avoid distributing printed materials to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Find our bulletin at www.saintmatt.org; it is also linked in our e-newsletters and social media. We will resume our printed bulletin when allowable by State and Archdiocesan directives.
No Other Activities: No other activities beyond those described in this plan will be held, such as coffee and donuts, Happy Hour, or in-person meetings. Our campus remains closed for everyone’s health and safety.
Mass Intentions: Mass intentions are being rescheduled and will be published in the weekly e-bulletin.
THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS.