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WELCOME HOME!: REOPENING of ST. PATRICK'S - INFORMATION


Section 1: Pastor's Letter from Fr. Thomas O'Rourke, C.Ss.R.

 

Dear Parishioners,

I pray that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. This has been both an exceptional and challenging time for all of us. Feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, loneliness and gratitude are ones which we have all felt. During this difficult time, please know the Redemptorist priests have carried you and your intentions in our masses and daily prayers each day.

You may have heard that we are now able to re-open our churches once again. We are thankful as this time of closure has been painful and difficult. As we implement our re-opening plans we must do so with prudence and caution, ensuring that we continue to do everything possible to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

When you return to St. Patrick's, things will look a little different. Some of our physical distancing procedures for sitting, going to Communion and other things may feel uncomfortable, overly restrictive, and maybe just strange. While this feeling will be common to all of us, our physical distancing and other precautionary measures is our way of loving and caring for our neighbour and of trying to keep each other as safe as we can. However, to prevent us from having to close once again and to keep everyone as safe, we must all do our part and make the best of this challenging situation.

One of the biggest challenges in re-opening is that we must do so in phases. At the present time, provincial health officials have given permission for churches to allow seating at 30% of their regular capacity. St. Patrick's has a practical and comfortable seating capacity of 545, which means that we may have up to 164 people at each Mass. We have identified approximately 50 physically-distant individual or household spaces in the pews, and so this will also be a factor in determining how many people can be admitted. 

Please refer to our revised Mass schedule included in this update. We have had to temporarily revise our regular schedule because of the extra time needed to welcome people, disinfect the church, and to ensure that we are able to have a team of volunteers at each mass throughout the week.

I am also attaching a "Guidelines for Returning to Church" document 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. The Archdiocese has also produced a short "How to Return to Mass" video that is well worth watching. We'll offer reminders/signs when you are here but it's good to review these guidelines in preparation to return. Also, in this update, you will find a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on the re-opening of the parish.

One key point that I would like to highlight is that the Archdiocese, after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer for the Province of Ontario, is recommending that all those, over the age of 3, who come to church wear a mask/face covering to prevent the potential spread of the virus. While not mandatory, they are highly recommended. If it is uncomfortable to wear one throughout the mass, please consider wearing one when entering and leaving the church, and when going to Communion.

Finally, I invite you to consider how you might help as a volunteer. The many tasks required for re-opening are significant and we need more volunteers, especially as greeters, ushers, and cleaning teams to implement the health and safety guidelines. If you would like to volunteer, please contact us at imihaljek@stpatrickstoronto.ca or call us at 416-598-3269 ext. 1211, or speak to one of the volunteers at the door when you come to church.

Our joy of re-opening churches is somewhat measured by the restrictions that we are required to follow. However, being able to return to the sacramental life of the church and to gather as a faith community, hopefully will be a source of encouragement, particularly during this trying time. I look forward to welcoming you back soon – be assured that you remain in my daily prayers.

In Christ, the Redeemer,

Fr. Thomas O'Rourke, C.Ss.R.

St. Patrick's Parish


 

Section 2: Revised Temporary Mass Schedule

Sunday Masses

Sat. Vigil Mass at 5:00pm

Sunday 8:30am, new 11:00am, 5:00pm

 

Weekday Masses

Mon-Tues; Thurs-Fri 12:10pm

*there will be no 7:30 am masses 

 

Wednesday Masses (with Devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help)

9:30am, 12noon, 2:30pm, 5:05pm, 7:00pm

*there will be no 7:30am masses; and no confessions on Wednesdays, or immediately prior to Sunday masses

 


Section 3: Revised Temporary Confession Schedule

Saturday 3-4pm (Beginning June 20)

Tuesday 11-11:45am  (Beginning June 23)

Thursday 11-11:45am (Beginning June 25)


 

Section 4: 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 provides a significant opportunity for the projection of particles from the mouth. Those attending mass will be asked not to sing at this time.
  • For the time being, there will be no choirs at Sunday masses. A cantor accompanied by a single instrumentalist will lead music where possible on Sundays and Wednesdays. 

 

How will Communion be distributed?

  • Upon the strong recommendation of medical authorities, the Bishops of Ontario have regulated that for the time being, the Holy Eucharist is received only in the hand at this time. The practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue will be restored as soon as the public health situation allows for it
  • At Communion time, ushers will guide the congregation, in single file, to receive Communion from the priest. Physical distancing requires that those who do not live in the same household remain 2 metres (6 ft.) from one another in the communion line.
  • Communicants are instructed to stop 2 metres (6 ft.) from the minister of Communion who will present the Blessed Sacrament saying "The Body of Christ." The communicant will respond "Amen", and proceed forward to receive Holy Communion in the hand. The communicant will then step aside to the markers along the floor on either side of the priest, remove their mask, and consume the Eucharist. The communicant may then reposition their mask and return to their seat using the side aisles, while maintaining physical distance. The following "How to Return to Mass" video illustrates this procedure clearly. 

 

What precautions is the church taking to remain safe during the pandemic?

  • The church has been completely cleaned and disinfected
  • Sanitizer is required upon entering the church, and before lighting vigil candles
  • Physical distance markers have been placed on the pews and carpets
  • All pamphlets, flyers, prayer intention slips, pencils, and children's books have been removed for the time being
  • Hymnals, Sunday Missals, and Prayer Cards for Wednesday Devotions will not be available
  • All unnecessary chairs and furnishings have been removed so that social distancing and disinfecting may be done with ease
  • Washrooms will be available for urgent situations only
  • In order to minimize the possibility of crowding at the entrances and to ensure that we can easily track numbers of people, we have decided to designate the South front doors on McCaul St. as the Entrance, and the North front doors as the Exit. The door from the parking lot off St. Patrick Street will not be used for entering or exiting at this time.
  • The accessible entrance (ramp) and elevator will be available only for those who require it, along with an attendant where necessary

 

What hours will the church be open?

 

  • The church will be open one hour prior to the beginning of mass. One exception will be for those who wish to go to Confession on Saturday afternoons between 3 and 4pm. The church may not be left open, unsupervised, at this time.

 

What are the new temporary Mass times, and why was the schedule changed?

  • The daily mass schedule remains the same with the exception that there will be no 7:30am masses from Monday to Saturday
  • New Sunday Mass Schedule: Saturday, 5pm; Sunday, 8:30am; 11am, and 5pm
  • The 10am German mass is temporarily suspended as the priests who are able to speak German live outside our parish community and are not available at this time. In addition, Neumann Hall remains closed and is temporarily unavailable for fellowship after mass
  • In order to assist in the scheduling of volunteers and the time required to disinfect the church on Sunday mornings, a second Sunday morning mass will be offered at 11am as indicated above. This will take the place of the regularly scheduled 12:10pm mass.
  • The decision to cancel all 7:30am masses is due to the numerous logistics required to safely open the church at that time of day

 

What will seating be like during mass?

  • Pews and aisles will be marked to note physical distancing requirements
  • Some pews will be roped off to ensure physical distancing
  • Those who live in the same household will be seated together
  • Please follow the guidance of our Greeters/Ushers when arriving at church for Mass

 

What happens if I arrive for Mass, but seating capacity has been reached?

  • Mass attendance will be available on a "First Come basis". Most likely we will be able to accommodate everyone, except possibly for the busiest masses on Wednesdays and Sundays

 

If I or someone I live with is considered to be high risk for catching the virus, and 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 your health, and 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 online?

  • Unfortunately, we are unable to continue online masses. Due to numerous challenges, both practical and technical, we will no longer be able to provide this option
  • Several other options continue to be available through the website of the Archdiocese of Toronto, or through online services/television networks such as Vision TV, Salt + Light TV, EWTN

 

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?

 

Should I wear a mask?

  • The wearing of masks is highly 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 physical distancing between your children and other parishioners and that sanitizing protocols are followed
  • We have been instructed by the Archdiocese that the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word for Children is not permitted during this time of pandemic. 

 

Will the parish halls and meeting rooms be open and available for group and ministry meetings?

  • All halls and meeting rooms remain closed and are not available for use

 

What about Confessions?

  • Confessions are available on Saturdays from 3-4pm, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-11:45am. The regular confession times on Wednesdays and before Sunday masses are not possible at this time
  • To ensure physical distancing, Confessions will be heard in the room with the stained-glass gate near the statue of St. Joseph on the right-hand side of the church

 

Is the Parish Office open?

  • The parish office remains closed to visitors; to contact us please call 416-598-3269 or email the parish at secretary@stpatrickstoronto.ca. Messages and emails are monitored regularly.