update March 26 at 4:45 PM
Please read this important update regarding Covid and Easter …..
As we prepare to enter Holy Week and the Easter Season, please be aware that Lebanon County remains (as of March 25 ) in the high-risk category for the spread of COVID-19. Parishioners are still getting sick from the coronavirus and are still being hospitalized. As vaccination efforts give us hope, we will continue to follow CDC and Diocesan guidelines.
Bishop Gainer’s dispensation from attending mass is still in effect and means that you do not incur sin if you do not attend mass on Easter Sunday because of Covid concerns. As at Christmas, you might want to consider attending one of the daily 8 AM Easter Octave Masses instead of attending Mass on Easter Sunday. There is also the option of watching the 10:30 AM Easter Sunday Mass live streamed.
Should Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday Masses reach social distancing capacity, the doors will be locked and those unable to enter will be offered Holy Communion after Mass should they choose to wait.
Please consult the bulletin for the Holy Week Schedule and please exercise prudence and charity as we approach Holy Week and Easter.
Peace and all good,
*The Holy Week Schedule can also be viewed on on our website under Parish News.
Updated July 2nd at 3:00 PM Yesterday, Governor Wolf signed an order from the Secretary of Health mandating that masks be worn in all public spaces. [Access the order here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20200701-SOH-Universal-Face-Coverings-Order.pdf] This includes our church properties whenever the faithful are assembling for Holy Mass or other liturgical services. Please note that the following amends all previous instructions given by the Commonwealth and the Diocese of Harrisburg.
Masks are to be worn by all individuals, laity and clergy, attending liturgical services and parochial events whether in a church building or out of doors. The masks are to remain on the faces of individuals the entire time they are assembled with the exception of the reception of Holy Communion. Priests are to wear masks during the Celebration of Mass with the exceptions of: the proclamation of the biblical readings and homily, and the recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer. Priests and deacons are to wear masks during the celebration of the sacraments whenever possible, especially when they are in proximity to others.
The order from the Secretary of Health includes exceptions due to age, health situations, and ability to safely remove a mask as indicated in the order. For those who come to Mass without a mask due to one of these orders a special seating area should be arranged to separate them from others.
We are asked to comply with these regulations as given.
Updated Friday June 26 at 9:00 PM
Reopening our Church Safely
While the parish office is open, we are screening visits and following PA Covid-19 safety procedures for businesses in order to protect our parishioners and employees working in the Commonwealth. If you must come to the Parish Office, please call or email first to make sure we can accommodate you. If you come to the office, you will need to wear a mask, have your temperature taken and provide us with contact tracing information.
Thank you for your compliance with these safeguards and thank you to the parish and mission staffs and volunteers who work hard to keep us all as safe as possible.”
* Until further notice, weekend masses will be celebrated at St. Mary’s according to the following schedule: Saturday at 5:30 pm, Sunday at 7:30 am and 10:30 am. This schedule is subject to change.
* Weather permitting, confessions will be held outdoors in the parking lot on Saturdays from 4-5 pm or in another well-ventilated space.
* Masses at the Fatima Chapel will be outdoors during the summer months and on a “to be announced” basis. Please check email, website and Facebook for updates.
* Weekday Masses at St. Mary’s will be celebrated in the main church Tuesday through Friday at 8 am. The changes below will apply.
* There will be no Tuesday morning confessions until further notice.
* At St. Mary’s we will use only the front doors of the church to enter the church. This will make the church accessible to the disabled and facilitate sanitizing.
* The wing doors of the church may be opened during Mass to facilitate better ventilation.
* Face masks are to be worn by all the lay faithful with the exception of those who do not wear masks for medical reasons. The only time face masks are to be removed is when a lector proclaims the readings and for the reception of Holy Communion. A cantor who is separated by a good distance from the assembly my participate without a face mask.
* Face masks are not to be worn by the clergy during the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. However, the clergy will wear masks for the distribution of Holy Communion (see below).
* Pews will be taped off to facilitate social distancing. Only those living in the same household should sit together. All others should exercise the 6-foot social distancing norm.
* Hymnals will be removed.
* Access to lighting votive candles is restricted to the pastoral staff.
* There will be no offertory procession or sign of peace.
* Collection baskets will be placed (not passed) for parishioners to drop off their contributions.
* Altar servers may not serve at Mass during the Yellow Phase.
* Extraordinary Ministers of Communion will not serve during the Yellow Phase except in necessary cases and with the permission of the Office of Divine Worship.
* All gatherings before or after Mass are prohibited in the narthex, church proper and entrances/exits.
* In order to provide for proper social distancing, fewer than 1/3 total occupancy may occupy the church at a given time. For St. Mary’s, that should be less than 200 and ideally between 100-150 parishioners (religious spaces are not held to the same standard as gatherings established for businesses).
* After each Mass the church will be sanitized.
* Gloves may not be worn for the distribution or reception of Holy Communion.
* Should other changes come about, announcements will be made before the start of each Mass.
Thank you for your attention to these matters as we begin to celebrate Mass publicly again. The celebration of other sacraments will also come with changes and restrictions depending on the specific sacrament. We will keep you informed and do our best to keep you safe. I ask for your patience and understanding. Thank you to our parish staff and volunteers who have been working very hard during these unprecedented times.
Peace and all good,
✔️ Nursing Home Visits Suspended: posted March 18 . First Friday visits to the home bound and pastoral visits to nursing homes are suspended. Anointing and Viaticum (Last Rites) are still available to those in danger of death.