It was certainly good to be back for our first weekend in Church! I know there were a couple of little snags, but overall, I think things went really well. I was very pleased to see nearly everyone wearing masks, working through the new communion process, and in general just being excited to be back and patient with the new procedures.
As for myself, we learned a lot this past weekend of what does and doesn’t work. The one major change we’re going to make at the weekend masses in the short term will be what I’m going to call “family pews.” A couple of families were very squished with our current arrangement. This week we’ll have 3 pews on each side that won’t have tape on them. We’d ask that those pews are reserved for families of 4 or more people. That way those families can fit everyone in a pew, while we try to maximize our available space.
I’m hoping that each week our numbers will go up a little bit until we start to approach the attendance we had before this all started. Once we start to reach capacity for a weekend mass, the following week, I’ll add additional masses. We have some time on both Saturday Evening and Sunday Evening for additional masses. As that happens, please work together to try to spread yourselves out as best you’re able. I don’t want to have to do a formal registration process for mass and if we all continue to be considerate of each other, I won’t have to.
We will be making one other change this week. While we had the church open most days with a cleaning schedule up until now, I’ve been watching who’s coming and when. Now that daily mass is back, most people come in the morning, so I’m going to be reducing the hours that the Church is open during the day. The Church will continue to be open to private prayer Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9am-8pm. This works well for an easy cleaning schedule as folks are available to help after the Tuesday evening mass, and Thursday morning after mass when the regular crew cleans the Church. That means we can now do away with the sign-up sheets. If you’d like to help, no need to sign up, just stop by at either of those times.
We’re also getting our sacraments of initiation back on track. Although they will be by invitation only, our First Communion mass and our Confirmation masses have been scheduled.
Congratulations also to the graduates of NCCS, who had their graduation mass this past Wednesday. Although we don’t have any graduates from our parish this year, we congratulate them all the same.
Now that we’re back and getting things organized, I am looking for any confirmed Catholics who would be willing to take communion to the homebound. With the current COVID concerns, it will be much better for now to have a single layperson visit 3-4 people, rather than having myself visit all 90+ homebound parishioners. If you are a confirmed Catholic and have a family member who is homebound that you’d like to bring communion to, or if you would be open to bringing communion to someone from our parish, give me a call at the office and we’ll get you set up. Many of them live relatively close. Right now we all know what it’s like to be without receiving Jesus for a while, please help me get Jesus to our homebound parishioners.
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.