Public Masses to Resume at St. Ambrose Parish
Announcement of Public Masses at Saint Ambrose Parish
Earlier this week Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Northern Virginia jurisdictions that remained in Phase 0 will enter Phase 1 on Friday, May 29th, which means that all parishes and campus ministries in the Diocese of Arlington are permitted to offer the public celebration of the Mass according to the current health care directives and guidelines.
The Diocese of Arlington continues to ask that all who feel sick in any way are to avoid public gatherings, including Mass and liturgical celebrations.
The Schedule of Public Masses
Beginning with the 5:00 pm vigil Mass on Saturday, May 30th, St. Ambrose parish will celebrate all Masses in the parish church according to the regular parish Mass schedule: Monday through Friday Masses will be held at 7:00 am and 9:00 am, on Saturdays Masses will be celebrated at 9:00 am and 5:00 pm (Sunday Vigil), and on Sundays Masses will be celebrated at 8:00 am, 10:00am, 12:00 pm, and 5:00 pm.
Special Directives for Masses in Phase One
The Diocese of Arlington requires every parish to ensure the disinfection and ventilation of churches, both before and after each Mass. In order for this to take place, we will open the church right before Mass begins and close it immediately following Mass. Parishioners will not be allowed to stay in the church and pray in between Masses.
To assist us with the disinfection of the church before and after Mass, only one restroom will be open for use at the church. If needed, the restroom in the cry room (located near the main entrance) will be open for public use. We ask that people do their best to use the restroom at home prior to coming to Mass.
Those attending Mass are expected to wear a face mask or face covering. We ask that you bring your own mask, as the church will not have a supply for general distribution.
The Diocese of Arlington asks that each person bring hand sanitizer to the church, to be used before entering the church and before receiving Holy Communion.
When arriving for Mass, ushers will have people form lines outside of the front doors of the church, following social distance norms. Please arrive early as this will take some time.
When the church doors are opened shortly before Mass, an usher inside the church will direct people in single file to pews that have been marked as “open” for seating. To ensure social distancing, certain pews will be marked as “open” for seating, while other pews will be marked as “non-seating”. By having every other pew marked as a “non-seating area”, there will be a six feet distance between parishioners while seated in the pews.
Families and households will be seated together in the same pew. Couples or individuals may be seated in the same pew as other parishioners, but only when an appropriate distance can be maintained. Some of the “open” seating will be designated for parishioners with special needs or mobility limitations.
St. Ambrose church will have “open” seating that allows for fifty percent of the regular public seating. “Open” seating will be available on one side of the church, and if needed, continue on the other.
Ushers will be monitoring the number of parishioners entering the church prior to Mass to ensure we are in the approved limit.
Hymnals (missalettes) have been removed from the church pews. Most Masses will be done without sung music. However, the Sunday 10:00 am Mass will have an organist and cantor, both of whom will be seated in the choir area at a distance from the congregation.
The Diocese of Arlington has asked that parishes continue to omit the Presentation of the Gifts and the Sign of Peace.
A Collection to support the parish will be taken up at Sunday Masses. Ushers will use collection baskets with long poles so that parishioners will not touch the basket itself. Further, the ushers will maintain a safe distance from parishioners at all times during the collection. If possible, please consider supporting the parish through online giving.
At the conclusion of Mass, parishioners are asked to be seated and remain in the pews. A priest or usher will then invite pews to leave, one by one, in single file so as to ensure an orderly exit. We ask that you leave the church in a reverent manner while maintaining social distancing.
The Reception of Holy Communion
Due to the COVID 19 virus, there are many legitimate concerns about current guidelines for receiving Holy Communion. It is our hope to ensure the honor and sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament, and at the same time, to distribute Holy Communion in a safe manner to the faithful.
First, we ask that the faithful do not wear a mask while attempting to receive Holy Communion. A mask is to be worn during Mass, but must be taken down before trying to place the sacred host in one’s mouth. Second, we ask that if a person wishes to receive Holy Communion in their hands, that they first remove any gloves. This is requested so that no particles of the Eucharist would remain on the gloves or fall to the ground. Third, please know that those seeking to receive Holy Communion on the tongue can do so. However, we ask that those receiving in this manner, take extra precaution to remain still and in place, so that no contact will be made between the priests and the communicant. If contact is made, the priest will need to stop and sanitize his fingers prior to continuing the distribution of Holy Communion to the other participants.
An usher will bring the faithful up to receive Holy Communion pew by pew. While coming forward, and returning to your seat, we ask that people maintain a safe distance.
Holy Communion will only be distributed by the parish clergy at Mass.
To be properly prepared to receive Holy Communion, please know that St. Ambrose parish will continue to offer confession at the regularly scheduled times: Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (until the line is done) and Saturdays afternoons from 3:00 pm through 4:00 pm.
New Orientation for the Priest Celebrating Mass in the Church
In order to accommodate the technological demands of Masses being telecast via live stream, the altar has been set up in a new direction. For now, the priest will be facing one half of the church (the half on the St Joseph side of the church). This new orientation is done to accommodate the necessary sound equipment and camera angles needed for live stream telecast.
Please be aware that a parish staff member will be stationed with a camera and tripod in the back of the church during Masses to provide live stream coverage.
What if I am not able to participate in a Mass?
Please know that Bishop Burbidge is continuing a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Also, the Diocese of Arlington encourages all those 65 years or older, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to avoid gatherings of the general public.
For those who are unable to come in person to Mass, please know that St. Ambrose parish will continue to celebrate daily Mass on live stream Monday through Saturday at 9:00 am, and on Sundays at 10:00 am. Those who view the live stream Mass are encouraged to make a spiritual communion with that Mass.
Stay Tuned for More Information
Lastly, as the COVID situation continues to evolve, please stay connected to St. Ambrose parish and the Diocese of Arlington for more information. In the meantime, let us continue to pray for an end to the COVID 19 virus and for all who have suffered from it.
May God bless and protect St. Ambrose parish, our families, and our loves ones.
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