Dear Nativity Parishioners,
These have been trying times for all. There has been, and will continue to be, much illness, suffering and death due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. May no such suffering be in vain. As citizens, and conscientious members of society – taking seriously our call to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world – we have been asked to disrupt our lives, alter our routines, and make sacrifices. May it also be true that our sacrifices have been offered – and continue to be offered – in union with the One Sacrifice of Christ, for the healing of the nations.
As we all know, in the Guidelines for the Resumption of Public Worship, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/ministries-offices/worship/resumption-of-public-worship-covid-19/, permission to resume public Masses, as early as Monday, May 25th has been given. Simultaneous with the possibility of resumption of public Masses, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been extended UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. This, I believe, is recognition that the present health crisis will continue for some time, and that there is insufficient objective medical and scientific data to suggest we are returning to normal in the near future.
“All who are vulnerable to infection (due to age or underlying medical condition) as well as those who may be agents of transmission of coronavirus, should exercise all reasonable precaution with any public gathering and avail themselves of the dispensation.” If the home is in truth the “Domestic Church,” stay at home and be Church. Keep Sunday holy in your homes.
For our Parish, I take our cue from the approach adopted by the Archdiocese of Chicago, https://www.archchicago.org/coronavirus/reopening. “We must be honest,” Blaise Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, writes. “We expect this situation to continue for some weeks, and any plan for reopening our churches for public worship must include every precaution to ensure public gatherings do not create a second wave of contagion, thus squandering the gains made through our sacrifice in these days.”
I am asking the same of you. Plans for reopening church MUST include every reasonable precaution. In the past few weeks, we have been blessed with the generosity of several parishioners who have come together as a COVID-19 Response Team, and have assisted me in determining what to do. The team includes Dr. Jeanne Corwin, Dr. Ted Gossard, Julie Kulhanek – Nurse, Kathy Michel – Nurse, Dr. Darcey Thornton. They bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and common sense from their areas of expertise in the medical and corporate worlds; a wealth without which I would have no real ability to make an informed decision. I wish to thank them all and I hope you are grateful for their service of us, as well. They are examples of what Church is called to be.
This team will continue to monitor the situation, convene regularly, and review and update our next steps as our community moves through phases of reopening during the next several weeks and months. I think this is something worth emphasizing. The response is not a matter of a one-time “fix,” but an ongoing, intelligent and responsible, phase-by-phase resumption of public worship for us. Again, our Response Team and I are referring to, and developing our response, following the logic and guidance provided by the Archdiocese of Chicago, as well as holding ourselves to the same standards of responsibility. We need time to do this as responsibly as possible. We know you understand and will cooperate with our plan, and prayerfully support it.
Together, let us live our Eucharistic faith, by seeking to protect and uphold the dignity of all human life, from first moment of conception through natural death, by moving forward responsibly and carefully. May Christ, the Physician of our Souls, assure our spiritual health that we may always know and do what is right for all.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Paul F. DeLuca, Pastor
NATIVITY PARISH PLAN FOR PHASED REOPENING
Phase One – Church open for personal prayer, Currently Available
- Please check Parish Social Media for days and times
- All current standards of social distancing and sanitation must be followed
- No groups or gatherings
Phase Two – Access to Sacraments, Currently Available
- By Appointment with the Pastor
- Controlled Gatherings: Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Baptism, Marriage, Funeral
- All current standards of social distancing and sanitation
- Maximum gatherings determined by social distancing standard of six feet
Phase Three – Streaming Live Mass, Beginning Pentecost, as early as May 30th-31st
- Limited to Ministers/Technicians of the Liturgy
- Sunday Masses & Special Church Feasts
Phase Three.1 – Bread In The Wilderness (BIW) – Evangelization and Formation Offerings
(To be developed at this time, but continuing as ongoing parish efforts.)
Possible offerings include:
- Live Video Feed of Sanctuary 24/7
- Messages from The Pastor
- Curator’s Clips: The Art of Church
- Scripture Study
- Parishioner Faith-Sharing Forums
- Story Time for Kids
Phase Four – Resumption of Public Masses, TO BE DETERMINED
- Satisfy all standards of safety, sanitation, social distancing
- Development of Worship Protocol to be followed by participants
- Ability to Implement, Maintain, and Evaluate Protocols
- “Trained” non-at-risk volunteers to implement, at each public liturgy
- Start with Sunday (Weekend); expand to Weekdays
- Response Team meets every two weeks to evaluate & adjust plan
PLEASE NOTE: PHASE FOUR REQUIRES ADDITIONAL WORK TO BE READY TO RESUME PUBLIC WORSHIP; THAT WORK CONTINUES WITH THE HIGHEST PRIORITY. PHASE FOUR ALSO REQUIRES REGULAR AND FREQUENT EVALUATION OF A VERY QUICKLY CHANGING PANDEMIC REALITY; THE PARISH RESPONSE TEAM IS COMMITTED TO THIS REQUIREMENT. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Resumption of Mass at Nativity
Who is on the response team and how were they selected?
Fr. Paul reached out to members of the parish with medical backgrounds to work with parish staff to look at the recommendations issued by the Archbishop and implement guidelines to safely resume Mass at Nativity. The members of the response team are: Fr. Paul DeLuca, Sr. Janet Schneider, Rudy Gruenke, Dr. Jeanne Corwin, Dr. Ted Gossard, Julie Kulhanek – Nurse, Kathy Michel – Nurse and Dr. Darcy Thornton.
What is the delay in resuming Mass? Other parishes are having Mass on May 25. Didn’t the Archbishop require churches to start having Mass on May 25th?
The Archbishop released a statement that public Mass could begin on Monday May 25th. The statement provided 5 pages of guidelines for parishes to individualize to their church space to resume Mass in the safest way. This requires the work of many and takes time. Additionally, the science and data on Covid-19 transmission changes almost daily. We appreciate your patience because we know people are very much looking forward to worshiping together. Also, the bathrooms are not functional right now as the long-awaited remodeling to make them handicapped accessible is almost finished. Hopefully that will stay on schedule and be completed by June 8th. To view the recommendations:
Why couldn’t we use St. Sebastian Hall until the renovations to the bathrooms are completed?
This is something we considered. The setup requires a lot of physical work by staff in close proximity to each other, putting them at risk and safety precautions need to be implemented in any space for worship. The gym floors, however, are scheduled for the yearly refinishing the 2nd week of June, right about when the bathrooms will be finished in the church. It makes more sense to wait until then.
Could Mass at Nativity be live streamed?
We have not had the equipment necessary to live stream Mass. We are working to secure all of the equipment and should be able to start that soon. Even when Mass is resumed, people at high risk and others may not feel safe coming and would be able to use this service.
What about First Communion, Confirmation, and the RCIA Elect?
First consideration will be given these groups. We feel extra caution should be taken in any Mass where children would be attending in large numbers based on new data regarding Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome being seen in children. This is going to take compromises for the participants as getting the entire group of First Communicants or Confirmation Candidates together seems unwise.
Why is Nativity being so cautious?
The Catholic Church has a moral theology to preserve life, thus a moral mandate to preserve our own health and the health of others. No one wants parishioners getting sick from attending Mass and taking the virus to others. The Mass you attend in the weeks ahead will look and feel quick differently from the Mass you remember from two months ago. It is imperative for all of us to work together during these times. The pandemic is not over, and safety precautions must be followed to promote the continued health and safety of our community.
Who can we contact if we have additional questions?
Please email any questions to Rudy Gruenke, Director of Systems & Special Projects at firstname.lastname@example.org.