Greetings from Father Devdas! I am writing this letter to let you know of some changes and additions that will be taking place at our parish beginning in November 2020.
It has been wonderful to see so many of you attending Mass, both outdoors on weekends and indoors on weekdays, in spite of social distancing and many other restrictions. Masses have been well-attended, averaging about 450 people on weekends and approximately 80 people at daily Mass. Although we are not able to resume our full, normal mode of operation at this time, it is a blessing to see so many of you taking the opportunity to receive the Holy Eucharist.
Some of you have expressed that you would like more opportunities to attend Mass, so after discussing this with the staff and the Pastoral Council, I have decided to add an additional weekend Mass and make some schedule changes. Beginning on October 31st, the Saturday Vigil Mass will return to 3:30 pm, replacing the Mass at 6:00 pm. We will also be adding a Mass on Sundays at 10:00 am. All three weekend Masses will be held outdoors to allow us to accommodate more people. Our new weekend Mass times, effective February 16th, will be: Saturdays at 4:30 Inside Church, Sundays at 8:00 am and 10:00 am Outside. The weekday Masses will be held in the Church at 8:00 am, Monday through Friday.
IN CASE OF RAIN , Outside MASS IS CANCELLED
In celebration of the Feast of All Souls, we will be celebrating a special Mass for those who have died within this past year. This special Mass will be held on Sunday, November 1st at 4:30 pm. At this Mass we will be reading the names of those who have passed away this past year, and we will pray for them at this time.
Many of you have also expressed a desire for Adoration, so we have decided to add Adoration and Benediction on the first Friday of every month, inside the church. This will start on Friday, November 6th, immediately after morning Mass, concluding with Benediction at 10:00 am. During these difficult times, there is no greater force than the healing power that comes from the Eucharist.
Finally, we will resume the Tuesday devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.Our Blessed Mother is a powerful example of love and strength, one that we should aspire to imitate. This devotion will resume on Tuesday, November 3rd, immediately following the morning Mass.
As you can see, we are trying to bring back some sense of normalcy, beginning with the addition of Mass and additional opportunities to celebrate the Sacraments. Although we have a long way to go, let us be grateful and make use of the opportunities we have. Your requests for additional opportunities to worship our Lord is a testament to your faith, and I thank you all for your continued perseverance. I am inspired by your faith, in spite of these difficult times. Let us continue to have hope and to lift each other up in prayer. Please know that I am always available to you and you are all in my prayers.
Guidelines for Attending Mass: Santa Sophia Church
Fr. Devdas, the Parish Staff, and planning committee decided to continue to celebrate weekend Masses outdoor at 4:30 pm on Saturdays and 8:00 am and 10:00 am, on Sundays. The weekend Masses are being celebrated in the Santa Sophia Academy north east parking lot, by EDC.
To inform the parishioners of the planned re-opening and any possible cancellation of outdoor Sunday Mass due to bad weather, communication will be sent via Flocknote. Letters will be sent out to all members of the parish outlining the details of the re-opening, and information will also be posted on the parish website. While keeping in mind the importance of all feeling welcome to attend the service, knowing the obligation remains dispensed, our goal is to maintain hygiene, social distancing, and ultimately upholding the sanctity of the celebration of the Mass.
We will emphasize in all communication that those members who exhibit any frailty due to advanced age, health impairment or symptoms of any kind should not attend. In addition, if members are acting as a caretaker for people in such situations, they likewise, should refrain from attending and continue to watch Mass online.
- For Sunday Mass, the attendees will be asked to bring their own chairs, carpets, or blankets if they wish to sit; anyone who would rather stand during the Mass will be free to do so in the back.
- For Sunday Mass and daily Mass all members will be mandated to wear masks as they exit their vehicles in the church parking lot.
- Face masks should be worn by all adults and children over two years old.
- Parishioners will be expected to use hand sanitizer upon entering through the gate. Hand sanitizer will be stationed in areas throughout the worship space.
- The Academy restrooms facilities will be opened and monitored so as to limit the number of people entering at one time.
- Restrooms facilities will be sanitized after every Mass.
- Ushers will direct the faithful, so they keep the 6 feet distancing
- Bulletins will be placed on tables or stands for parishioners to pick up.
SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOLS
- The parking lot being used as the worship space for Mass will give privacy and is a safe and secured location. It has a total of three entry gates that are retractable with walkways to enter the worship space.
- Members will enter and exit through two of the gateways and in case of emergency we can open the third gate, located by the end of the hall.
- Parishioners will park their cars in the church’s parking lot located on the southern portion of the property and will walk to the north eastern gates.
- The ushers will instruct people to maintain a social distance of 6 feet between family groups.
- Upon arrival at the gates, ushers will instruct members on social distancing guidelines and will monitor the area to ensure all are complying.
- Ushers will stand at the gate and direct the parishioners to their designated area.
- For Sunday Mass, the Parishioners are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes before Mass begins and will be seated on a first-come-first-serve basis. The worship space has a maximum capacity of up to 800 people, however the expected number of attendees is approximately 300 parishioners.
- Entry gates will have signs posted to remind attendants to wear masks, sanitize their hands and only attend if they are symptom free.
- Prior to the beginning of Mass, instruction will be given to the congregation detailing the flow of the celebration as well as a reminder the sign of peace will be suspended and during the Lord’s Prayer there will be no hand holding.
- We will recruit and train new and needed ushers (hospitality ministers), Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers and bathroom attendants.
- Music will be provided by one Cantor and accompanist only.
- The congregation will be encouraged to sing by wearing mask on.
- Priest will use his individual paten and chalice for his communion only.
- Ministers, deacons, and priest who distribute communion will wear masks and sanitize their hands before distributing communion.
- Holy Communion will be distributed at the usual time during Mass.
- The Precious Blood will not be distributed.
- Eucharistic ministers will wear masks, sanitize their hands before picking up the plate.
- Holy Communion will be given in the hand and not on the tongue.
- Gloves shall not be worn by the Eucharistic Ministers or the parishioners during distribution or receiving of the Holy Eucharist.
- There are four Communion stations and a rover. People will be asked to go to the station nearest to them that has been marked off with cones. There will be an usher in each station to direct people.
- Lector and server will wear masks and lector will only remove masks when reading.
- There will be boxes for Sunday offertory (one on each side of the altar and the third box in front of the altar). Ushers will not accept Sunday offertory from people but will direct parishioners to drop it in the box.
- Rosemary, our sacristan, will monitor and secure the money.
- Sound system/speakers will be attached to the EDC windows and kindergarten classroom.
LITURGICAL BEST PRACTICES
- The entirety of the Mass will be celebrated at the alter site except for readings and homily.
- People will be asked to maintain 6 feet distance and people with umbrellas will be asked to sit in the back so as to not block anyone’s view.
- Masks will be worn at all times by all attending at the altar except for the lectors when reading and the cantor while singing.
- There will be no entrance or exit procession. Altar server/s, deacon and priest will vest and enter from EDC.
- There will be no procession of the gifts of bread and wine.
- Daily Mass, Monday through Friday, will be celebrated on the CMO patio at 8:00 am. We will follow the same guidelines as of the weekend Masses.
- There will be two Eucharistic Ministers, in front of the altar, participants will be asked to form a single line for Communion.
- Chairs and restrooms in the church will be cleaned and sanitized every day.
- We will strongly encourage people not to attend Mass if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness, especially:
- A temperature above 99F, cough or sore throat, shortness of breath, chills, muscle aches, gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea; and recent loss of smell or taste