Please review and familiarize yourselves with our protocols and procedures FOR ATTENDING MASS AT ST. JOSEPH. Read them, re-read them, and share them with your fellow parishioners who may not be receiving my daily emails.
Attendance at Mass:
~Those who are sick or symptomatic should stay home!! Even if you don’t suspect COVID, please err on the side of caution and don’t come to Mass!
~The bishop continues to dispense all the faithful from the Sunday Obligation until further notice. In addition, he has encouraged vulnerable individuals, those 65 and older or with underlying health condition, to continue to shelter in place. Families with vulnerable individuals are encouraged to continue to take special precautions. If you aren’t comfortable being in crowds yet or would like to stay home for other reasons, it is perfectly ok not to come to Mass at this time.
~The bishop also states, “We would like for our parents to consider the vulnerability of infants, toddlers and small children during this time, considering not bringing them to Mass or to perhaps bring them to a Mass during the week that is less attended rather than one of the busier weekend Masses.
~Our bishop has mandated the wearing of face masks for all in attendance over the age of two. Please be prepared for this and bring a mask with you. If you forget yours, we will have some extras available.
~Hand sanitizer will be provided for you to use before you enter the church. Please bring your personal hand sanitizer to use before you receive Communion.
~Only the doors on the north side of the church, under the porte cochere, will be open to enter the church. As you leave Mass, you will be allowed to leave through all doors.
~We are estimating our social distancing church capacity to be approx. 125 persons. Families living in the same residence will be allowed to sit together, but there MUST be a distance of 6 ft. between family groups or individuals.
~Due to the limited seating capacity, YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO CALL TO MAKE A RESERVATION and let us know which Mass you are planning to attend! You can call the Parish Office beginning on Monday, continuing through Thursday of each week before Sunday Mass, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to let us know which Mass you would like to attend, and how many family members will be with you. You need to call only for yourself and your immediate family, please. No calling for other people! When a particular Mass is full (maximum number is 115), you will be offered space at one of the other Masses. The office number to call is 601-856-2054. No emails, no calls/texts to parish staffs’ cell phones or home phones or before/after hours will be taken. If you call or text a staff member, you will be instructed to call the parish office number. We are doing our very best to be fair to everyone and are praying for your patience and understanding during these difficult times!
~Offertory baskets will not be passed. There will be a large basket on the table in the foyer for you to place your envelopes, checks, or cash.
~Missalettes and prayer cards have been removed from the pews. We will have disposable worship sheets available as you enter the sanctuary if you would like to use one. You will be asked to bring them out of church with you at the end of Mass and dispose of them in a trash can which will be provided.
~The cry room will be closed until further notice.
~Masses will be celebrated on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 12:00 noon. After Pentecost we will also have Wednesday Mass at 5:30 p.m. These are all “new, temporary” times, and the times may be adjusted as we go forward.
~The 8:00 a.m. Sunday Mass will be recorded and posted on YouTube. The link will be included in the Sunday email so that, if you are not able to attend Mass in person, you can watch the recorded Mass later in the day if you would like. We will try to have the Sunday email “blast” posted by mid-afternoon so that you can watch the Mass as early in the day as possible.
AS YOU ARRIVE AT MASS:
~You will not be sitting in your “usual” pew!!
~Ushers will be seating parishioners as they arrive, and the church will be filled from front to back in an orderly, organized manner. Again, due to the limited number of seats available, we want to be as efficient as possible in order to allow as many people to attend Mass at one time. Again, we ask for your patience and understanding, and hey, you may just make a new friend in your new “spot”!
~You will see a LOT of blue tape decorating the church! This is to help ushers and you with appropriate social distancing.
~As we begin this “new, and we hope temporary” way of celebrating Mass, we will begin by having congregational singing with one verse of a familiar Opening Hymn and one verse of a familiar Recessional Hymn. We anticipate that singing while wearing masks will be difficult and uncomfortable, and the diocese has advised that scientists contend that saliva may spread as far as 26 feet when we sing. We will re-evaluate as we experience the reality of singing while masked.
~For Communion, the floor will be taped off at 6 ft. intervals. Father Kevin and I will be distributing the Holy Eucharist while wearing masks and standing 6 ft. apart. The center aisle will be taped off at 6 ft. intervals as well. You will approach for Communion, Father or I will place the host in your hand (Communion on the tongue has been suspended by our bishop), you will step to another mark on the floor (either 6 ft. or 12 ft. away), raise your mask, consume the host, and then proceed back to your pew. Father Kevin and I are planning to “demonstrate” the best way to do this before each Mass.
~At the end of Mass, the congregation will be dismissed by row. You are asked to proceed toward the back of the church and then outside, without stopping, and while maintaining the appropriate social distance. Again, ushers will be present to assist.
There are many, many other details which we are attending to in order to make our return to the celebration of the Eucharist as safe and prayerful as we possibly can. We have tried to anticipate as many things as we can, but, of course, every detail cannot possibly be anticipated. Please know that all of these protocols will be “tweaked” as we begin the process and see how everything is working. Even our “old” normal wasn’t perfect, we were just used to the imperfections. Helpful comments are always welcome – just call, text or email me, please! firstname.lastname@example.org; 601-573-2053
As one of my favorite priests, Father Mike Schmitz, says: “We are going to learn to ‘boldly advance into the shadows of uncertainty!’”
Again, we ask for your patience, your understanding, and your prayers. This is as “new” for us as it is for you and we are prayerfully doing everything in our power to make worship as normal as we can during this time.