Dear Seton Family,
You may recall that Archbishop Lori emailed Catholics throughout the Archdiocese this week to share a set of guidelines for Phase I regarding three areas: Wedding and Funeral Masses and the Sacraments; Resumption of Parish Ministries; and Resumption of Parish Operations. A video was also created to help you understand “What to Expect When You Return to Mass.” This plan will be guided by the three-stage plan Governor Hogan is using to re-open the State of Maryland.
I am writing to let you know how anxious we are to begin welcoming you back and will continue to communicate how this process will unfold. Please be advised that the reopening of Seton Parish will not be like turning on a light bulb. We must follow the guidelines of the State, the County, and the Archdiocese, in that order. Once we sift through those guidelines there is a lot to be done in preparation for the reopening of the church to the public, and I mean a lot of work and preparation. I created a special Task Force to help me in reopening our parish in a safe and intentional fashion that takes into account our campus in relation to the guidelines set forth by the above mentioned entities.
Please understand that each parish will open up in their own timeframe. We are in the process of gathering the proper cleaning and sanitation supplies, PPE and hand sanitizer needed, as well as developing protocols specific to Seton to ensure safety. You may see neighboring parishes opening sooner, later, and/or offering different services. Please know that the safety of the staff and parishioners is my top priority. We are working hard to ensure that we take into account necessary precautions when developing our protocols at Seton for reopening.
Our first step will be the re-opening of the church for private prayer.
• This will include personal visits to be with the Lord, Funerals, Weddings and Baptisms.
• Phase I will also include opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The location will be determined since I will not be using the Reconciliation Room. Dates and times will be announced on a weekly basis.
• The number of people will be strictly limited to 10, and there will be social distancing requirements in place. Masks are required at all times on our campus once you leave your vehicle.
• Within the church, you will find that rows of seats will be closed to ensure proper distancing. You will also find that, following the recommendation of health officials, our hymnals have been removed.
• During this phase we will begin to reopen the office with limited office hours meant to ensure the safety of our staff as we navigate social distancing guidelines.
• We ask that parishioners only come to the office when absolutely necessary. Any business will be conducted in the narthex and no socializing will take place.
Phase II (to begin implementing upon notice from AOB)
Our second step will be the celebration of public Masses with social distancing practices in place and limits on attendance.
• Please note that the Archbishop will continue to suspend the obligation to attend mass for those who are ill, vulnerable, or just not comfortable being in attendance. We will continue to livestream the 9:30am Sunday Mass, as well as daily Mass just as we’ve done for over a year.
• Because of the strict limits on attendance in Phase II, the Task Force will need to see how many we can allow at Mass based on the guidance we will receive from the Archdiocese and State and County officials.
• Other Masses in Phase II including the celebration of First Holy Communion and Sacraments of Initiation for those in the RCIA, will need to be considered with guidance from the Archdiocese.
• The procedure for the distribution of Communion at these Masses will be different from what we are used to, reflecting the Church’s great reverence for the Eucharist while also providing appropriate precautions against infection. Make sure you view the video (link above) to see what is expected of everyone.
Phase III (further down the road)
The third phase should allow for larger gatherings of parishioners here at church and on campus. This would allow greater access to Mass, as well as other times of prayer and meetings/gatherings for various ministries. All of this would happen while still observing whatever necessary protocols are required.
Please remember that as these phases unfold, there may be moments when outbreaks trigger “Stop Signs” at the State or Anne Arundel County level that require us to slow things down.
As Archbishop Lori pointed out in his email this past week, he has also been working regionally with the bishops of Delaware, West Virginia and Virginia, and the Archbishop of Washington. Although they may not all be on the same timeline due to regional details, the Archbishop wants to be on the same page as much as the other bishops can be.
I do not have a specific timeline for our reopening for Phase 1, but I wanted to reassure you that as soon as we are ready, we will welcome you home for prayer here at Seton. I will do my best to communicate out all that you can expect when you come back to church.
You are in my prayers and I look forward to being back together soon!
Here is this Sunday’s Worship Aid
John Russell (Director of Evangelization) has important news about a special project for parishioners graduating from high school and college. We want to honor them in a special way. Click here for more information.
Mass will be live-streamed on the parish Facebook (link) and uploaded on YouTube (link), and our parish website, https://www.seaseton.org/Resources/Media. If you do not have Facebook but wish to watch our livestream, click here for instructions.
Feel free to forward this email to friends, family members and neighbors and let them know of the good things we continue to do here at Seton Parish!
Have a good week!