Guidelines for Returning to Public Liturgies during Phase I of COVID-19 Reopening Plan by Bishop Deshotel

As our churches reopen, the following guidelines will remain in place during Phase I of public reopening of Masses and other Liturgies. (Some are adapted to our Church Parish)

Once the reopening of churches for public worship is allowed by public authorities, it is important that we do not lose sight of the fact that the COVID-19 Virus is a highly contagious and dangerous pathogen.  We must maintain and continue or precautionary measures to ensure we are protecting one another from the spread of the virus.  The reopening for public worship must necessarily be gradual and in accordance with governmental directives.  It is the responsibility of the Pastor to ensure that these directives are enforced.

  1. Persons who are ill (fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, loss of taste/smell etc.) as well as those with preexisting conditions should not attend Mass.  Also, person over 65 years old are at a higher risk of experiencing worse symptoms than others if they contract the coronavirus virus and should consider not attending Mass.
  2. Until retracted or altered by Bishop Deshotel, all Catholics in the Diocese of  Lafayette remain dispensed from their obligation from attending Sunday Masses.  All the bishops of the State of Louisiana have determined that Catholics may fulfill their spiritual duty to consecrating the week (Sabbath) on any day of the weekend including Monday— Saturday morning.
  3. According to State regulation during Phase I, persons in public gatherings are required to wear masks or face coverings.
  4. All Holy water fonts are to remain empty and dry.
  5. Temporarily remove all missalettes, hymnals, Bibles, pens, information cards, etc. from pews. Music sheets may be handed out by masked/gloved volunteers or placed with the bulletin in assigned seating prior to Mass.
  6. Prepare the seating area of your church to ensure social distancing. At least every other pew should be blocked off.  Consider using painter’s tape, yellow caution tape, rope, signs (DO NOT SIT), cones, etc. to indicate the distance needed.  Removable tape and/or weekend bulletins/song sheets can be used to delineate six feet distanced.
  7. Churches are to be sanitized between Masses. Consider assigning one person to organize cleaning. Door handles (inside and outside), pew tops and side rest should be wiped down with approved disinfectants attentive to the painted or stained surface. 
  8. Confession will be scheduled and announced in bulletin.
  9. Masks or facial coverings should be worn as people exit their vehicles. When entering the church through opened doors, social distancing must be maintained.
  10. During Phase I of reopening, only 25% of the Church’s occupancy is available for attendance.
  11. Hand sanitizer will be available upon entry to the Church.
  12. Persons from a single household are considered as one unit and may sit together, Other individuals must be seated at least six feet apart.
  13. Basket will be placed at all doors of the church for you to place your offering.
  14. Choirs are suspended during Phase I due to problems with social distancing and forceful projection of breath in close proximity.  A cantor and instrumentalist (socially distanced) may lead congregational singing. Well-know hymns or hymns with refrains are encouraged. Pastors are to use their discretions. 
  15. Parishes are dispensed from and asked not to bring up gifts in procession (bread, wine, collection).
  16. The sign of peace is omitted or with a bow of the head only.
  17. Eucharistic Ministers (Clergy and extraordinary/lay) over age sixty-five (65) should be discouraged from distributing Holy Communion but may do so at the discretion of the pastor. Person with vulnerable health issues (including clergy) should not distribute Holy Communion.
  18. Eucharistic Ministers (clergy and lay) are required to wear a mask during the distribution of Holy Communion.  The priest celebrant and other clergy are not to wear masks during the other parts of Mass. Lectors are to remove their masks before approaching the ambo for the proclamation of the readings.  Other ministers (seminarians, altar servers, commentators etc) should wear masks but the final decision regarding these ministers is left to the  discretion of the pastor.  Sanctuaries should be arranged for social distancing.
  19. Eucharistic Ministers (Clergy and extraordinary/lay) should reverently but conspicuously sanitize their hands before the distribution of Holy Communion.
  20. Care should be taken for the least amount of physical contact with the Hosts. Father Thainese will be the only one setting up the Altar (bread, wine, water, towels, etc) and taking down.
  21. Prior to distribution, the congregation is to be instructed about the procedure for the distribution of Holy Communion, including leaving one’s mask on as they exit into the aisle to walk up for Communion, the  maintaining of social distancing (e.g. three (3) pew spacing while still in line), the necessity to paying careful attention and holding one’s hands as steady and flat as possible.
  22. For the time being only, the Bishop has decided that we are to receive Holy communion only in the hand, which Saint Cyril tells becomes a throne for Christ the Lord.
  23. Communicants are to lower their mask immediately before receiving Holy Communion.
  24. Eucharistic ministers are to distribute Holy Communion with no bodily contact.
  25. Ministers of Holy Communion are to sanitize their hands after distribution and handling of vessels.
  26. The virus remains for several hours on paper surfaces. Therefore, bulletins must be handed out with gloves and face masks.
  27. All doors of the church will be opened by Ushers and remain open until last person leaves.
  28. People are instructed to proceed immediately to their vehicles. Do not allow people to assemble and socialize outside/inside of Church.  Clergy should not at this time greet people at the door after Mass.  If parishioners need to speak with the priest/clergy after Mass, they should do so with masks and away from an exit door and with due regard for six feet spacing.
  29. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 2 years of age and under do not wear masks or face coverings.





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St. Bernadette Catholic Church