Reopening

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Section 1: Pastor's Letter from Fr. John Sullivan, S.J.

14 June 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
I pray that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.  This has been a most unique time for all of us.  We’ve felt a mixture of uncertainty, anxiety, loneliness and gratitude, and often at the same time.  Please know that your blessing and safety has been my Mass intention every day.    
 
You may have heard that the Ontario government has given permission for places of worship to reopen this Sunday, June 14, the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Cardinal Collins has asked that churches be open for private prayer with daily Mass resuming on Wednesday and Sunday Mass on the weekend of June 21.  These months of strict social distancing has not permitted us to celebrate and receive together the “summit and climax” of the Christian faith, that is, the Eucharist.  Thus we are most grateful to the government and public health officials for trusting us to receive the Sacrament again and to do so according to health guidelines.  As we reopen, we must do so with prudence and caution, seeking to do everything possible to reduce the potential transmission of the virus. 
 
When you return to Lourdes, things will look a little different. Some of our social distancing practices for sitting, going to Communion and other things could feel uncomfortable, overly restrictive and maybe just strange.  While this feeling will be common to all of us, trust me, our social distancing is our way of loving and caring for our neighbour, of trying to keep each other as safe as we can.
 
One of the biggest challenges in reopening, is that we must do so in phases.  At the moment, provincial health officials have given permission for churches to allow seating to 30% of its regular occupancy.   Our Lady of Lourdes has an occupancy of 450, which means we may have up to 135 people at each Mass.  Please refer to our revised Mass schedule included in this update.  We had to slightly change our old schedule because we need extra time to sanitize the church following a Mass.  
 
I am attaching a “guidelines” document (link) to give you a better sense of what you can expect and how you can help even before you arrive at church, when you arrive and at points in between. We’ll offer reminders/signs when you are here but it’s good to review the guidelines in preparation to return.  Also, in this update, you will find a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on the reopening of the parish.
 
One of the best ways we can care for each other is to wear a mask/face covering while present at Lourdes.  The Chief Medical Officer for Ontario has strongly encouraged that we adopt this practice, especially when we are indoors.  Cardinal Collins has asked that we do so, and I join his most reasonable request.  Please follow this guideline and bring your mask/face covering with you when you return to church.  If you do not have one, do not think you may not come.  We have purchased washable masks to be given to a person if needed.   Simply speak to a Welcomer/Usher to receive a mask.
 
Finally, I invite you to consider how you might help as a volunteer. The many tasks required for reopening are significant and we need more volunteers, especially, as Welcomers/Ushers, to implement the health and safety guidelines.    If you would like to volunteer, please contact us at [email protected] or call us at 416-924-6257 ext. 3295. 
 
Our joy of reopening is somewhat measured by the restrictions that we are required to follow.  However, returning to sacramental life and gathering as a community is food for our hearts and strength for our faith, particularly during this trying time. 
I look forward to seeing you again and be assured that all of you remain in my daily prayers.
 
God Bless and take care,
 
Fr. John Sullivan, S.J.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church

Section 2: New Mass Schedule

Sunday Masses

8am, 9:45am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 5pm (Tamil/English), 7pm; Sat. Vigil Mass @ 5:15pm

Weekday Masses

Mon-Fri 8am, 12:10pm, 5:15pm
Sat 8am, 12:10pm

Online Masses

Sundays at 11:30am
Mon-Sat at 12:10pm
Streaming Live from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish on Lourdes TVYouTube, and Facebook Live

Section 3: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sit with my family/roommate?
  • Yes, families and those living in the same household will be able to sit together.  As a unit, they will keep social distance with other individuals and families in the church
Will there be singing during Mass? Will there be a choir?
  • Unfortunately, singing allows for a significant opportunity for the projection of particles from the mouth.  Parishioners attending Mass will be asked not to sing at this time.    Also, you will notice that the hymnals and other books and pamphlets in the church have been removed to cut down on the possible contamination of soft materials.   
  • For the time being, there will only be one musician and a cantor for each Mass.  This is so that we can accommodate social distancing requirements.
How will Communion be distributed?
  • Upon the strong recommendation of medical authorities, the Bishops of Ontario had regulated that for the time being, the Holy Eucharist will be distributed in the hand only at this time. The practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue will be restored as soon as possible once the public heath situation allows for it.  
  • At Communion time, our Welcomers/Ushers will guide the congregation to one of our Eucharistic ministers.  Social distancing requires that we remain 6 ft. from one another.  
  • You will be asked to stop 6 ft. from the Eucharistic Minister who will present the Blessed Sacrament saying “The Body of Christ.”  The Communicant will respond “Amen”, remove their masks (if they are wearing them, proceed to receive Holy Communion in the hand, step aside and consume the Eucharist.  The communicant may then reposition their mask and return to their seat, maintaining social distance from others. (link to video)
What precautions is the church taking to remain safe during the pandemic?
  • The church has been completely cleaned and disinfected
  • Sanitizer will be at all entrances and exists
  • Social Distance Markers have been placed on pews and the floor 
  • All hymnals, missals, flyers, etc, have been removed for the time being.   The bulletin will only be available electronically for the time being
  • The upper church has been cleared of some of our furnishings so that social distancing and sanitizing may be done with ease.
  • For those who are in need of a washroom – only the Bernadette Hall facility will be available. 
  • In order to minimize the possibility of crowding in the entrances of the church, and to ensure that we can easily track numbers of people (so that we can maintain our capacity levels with social distancing) we have decided to designate the South Sherbourne doors as our Entrance and the North Sherbourne doors and our parking lot doors as our Exit.  
What hours will the church be open?
  • 7:30 am until 7 pm daily 
 
What are the new Mass times and why was the schedule changed?
  • Daily Mass Schedule (beginning Wednesday, June 17) remains the same:   8:00 am ; 12:10pm & 5:15pm
  • New Sunday Mass Schedule:  Saturday, 5:15 pm; Sunday:  8:00 am; 9:45 am; 11:30 am; 1:30pm; 5:00 pm (Tamil/English) and 7:00 pm 
  • The new Mass times are necessary so that our Cleaning Ministry is able to sanitize the church in between Masses. 
  • If necessary, to accommodate the numbers of parishioners coming to the church while social distancing, the Parish is considering adding additional Masses.   We will keep you up to date with developments
What will seating be like during Mass?
  • Pews and aisles will be marked to note physical distancing requirements.
  • Every other pew has been roped off to ensure social distancing
  • Families and those who live together in the same household will be seated together
  • Please follow the guidance of our Welcomers/Ushers when arriving to church for Mass
What happens if I arrive for Mass, but seating capacity has been reached?
  • We are currently working on implementing a reservation system for our Masses.  We hope that this will help us anticipate crowd sizes.  Of course, no one system is perfect, and some of our parishioners do not have internet or are not registered.  
  • If someone arrives for Mass but we are at our 30 % capacity, they will be asked to join the next scheduled Mass.
I or someone I live with is considered to be high risk for catching the virus, I feel uncertain about coming to Mass, what should I do?  
  • We recognize that this is a time of great anxiety for people, especially for individuals in high-risk categories and those who care for them.  
  • You are encouraged to stay safe and do what is best for the health and well-being of those you love.
  • If you find yourself in this position, please know that Cardinal Collins has continued the dispensation from Sunday Mass for those who may not be able to attend for health reasons or due to capacity restrictions.  
Will Mass continue to be offered on-line?
  • Yes, Live-streaming of Mass will continue:  11:30 am Sunday mass and the 12:10 pm daily Mass
What should I do if I have come in contact with the virus?   
  • If, within 14 days of attending Mass, you learn that you or someone in your family who attended Mass with you has tested positive for COVID-19, you are asked to:  a) contact the Ontario Public Health Authority; and, b) contact the parish office.   Your identity will not be revealed to anyone other than the Public Health Authority, and only to ensure that any spread is contained.
What precautions should I take in preparing to come to Mass?  
  • Please take a look at the attached document:  Guidelines for Returning to Church –Resources for the Faithful 
Should I wear a mask?
  • The wearing of masks has been encouraged, but not mandated by the Archdiocesan guidelines.  We encourage people to do what they believe to be best for themselves and for the care of their neighbour.
Can I bring my children to Mass?  Will there be any children’s programs running?
  • Absolutely, children are welcome at any time now that the church is open.  As parents, we ask that you will ensure social distancing between your children and other parishioners and that sanitizing protocols are followed.
  • At this time, we have been directed by the Archdiocese to no run our children’s ministries, because of the difficulties of ensuring safe practices.   As soon as we are given the go ahead, we will look to reinstate our wonderful Kids at Mass program 
Will I still be able to have a coffee and socialize with friends after Mass?   
  • At this time, we will not be able to extend our wonderful welcome following our Masses.  
Will the meeting halls be open and available for group and ministry meetings?
  • At this time, the halls remain closed and are not available for use.  
What about Confessions?
  • Confessions remain available by appointment only - please call or email the office at [email protected] or 416-924-6257.
Is the Parish Office open?
  • The Parish Office remains closed to visitors; we continue to monitor voicemails and emails ([email protected] and 416-924-6257), and our team is continuing to work diligently to handle your requests.
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