Reopening – What You Need to Know (includes VIDEO guidance!)

We’re Open for Mass!

Weekday Mass:  Monday-Friday 8:30 AM in the church

Weekend  Mass Times: 

Saturday:   5:00 PM Mass
Sunday: Note that there will NOT be 7:30 AM Mass*
                        9: 00 AM Mass
                      11:30 AM Mass

*To allow sufficient time to sanitize the church, the 7:30 AM Mass is temporarily cancelled.

Our primary concern is everyone’s safety, so if you are vulnerable, sick or simply apprehensive about gathering with others at this time, please consider staying at home.  The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect throughout this phase of our reopening.  Additionally, St. John Church will continue to offer live Mass streaming via our Facebook page on Sundays at 9:00 AM.

Drive-Up Confessions

Confessions are available on Saturdays from 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM via drive-up in the parking lot of the Parish Office building. Fr. Pete’s car will be parked there, and he will be waiting inside his car on stand-by. Pull up and park your car on the right side of the pastor’s car. While remaining inside your vehicle, open the window and begin the confession.

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While we always strive to provide a spiritually-fulfilling and welcoming worship experience, another important priority during this time is the safety of all those who will be walking through our doors.

With that in mind, there are some new ways of doing things that we’d like to share with you as outlined below. Be sure to check out our Reopening Guidance video to understand what to expect as we reopen.

Sign Up for Sunday Mass In Advance

To save time when you get to church, sign up ahead of time via Sign Up Genius – it’s quick and easy!

Click here to go to our Sign Up page with links to the Sign Up Genius forms for each of the weekend Masses. The sign-ups for each week will remain open until 4 PM on Saturday. You may also call or email the parish office with your name, email, phone number, the Mass you’ll be attending, and how many will be attending.

Please recognize that online sign-up is intended to facilitate the record-keeping of those who have attended Mass at St. John for contact tracing purposes. Signing up will help save time when you arrive to check in before Mass, but please understand that signing up in advance does not reserve or guarantee seating. We will do our best to accommodate as many people as possible between the church and the church hall, both of which have limited capacity. We hope you understand these limitations for your health and safety.

Please note that if we reach maximum capacity in the church, we will offer a virtual Mass venue in the church hall with limited overflow capacity. We suggest arriving 15-20 minutes before the scheduled start of Mass.

When You Arrive

When you arrive, everyone – including parishioners, Eucharistic Ministers, musicians, ushers, lectors, servers, etc. – will check in with the Head Greeter, who will be stationed outside of the church. If need be, parishioners will line up at 6-foot intervals along the front of the church under the roof overhang.

The Head Greeter will check off your name if you signed up in advance, or you may fill out your contact information at that time. You’ll then enter through the open doors to meet one of our ushers, who will escort you to a seat in the church, or if maximum capacity is reached in the church, they will direct you to the church hall.

Being Seated

Ushers will be seating people from the front of the church to the back. Those living in the same household may sit closely together, but social distancing of 6 feet from others will be maintained. Ushers may place 6-foot spacers between groups in the same pew to help with seating capacity and proper distancing.

Please follow the guidance of the ushers regarding being seated. During this time, we ask for your understanding and patience as we strive to accommodate as many people as possible in a safe manner.

This means you likely will not be able to sit in your preferred section and/or pew during this phase of reopening, and if we reach full capacity in the church, you may be seated in the church hall for virtual Mass with Communion. We hope you agree that this is a minor and temporary inconvenience in light of the joy of being able to worship in-person again!

The animation below helps to give you an idea of the entrance flow.

 

Seating Capacity – Virtual Venue in Church Hall

Our ushers will work to fit as many as safely possible in the main church. Should we reach maximum capacity, we will provide a virtual Mass venue in the church hall. Mass will be broadcast on the projection screen, and a Eucharistic Minister will go downstairs to the hall to administer Holy Communion.

Communion

The flow for the Communion line will be modified in order to ensure single lines of one-way traffic.  Everyone in a pew will need to enter the Communion line, whether you receive Communion or just a blessing. This avoids the need for people to climb over one another. Ushers will release alternating sections of the church for Communion as shown in the animation below.

There will be no Precious Blood, and the Eucharist will be received in the hand. As you approach the priest or Eucharistic Minister, DO NOT MOVE YOUR FACE MASK. This is updated guidance from what has been previously published. Rather, with your face mask in place, receive the Eucharist in your handand walk back to your pew. After you’re back in your seat, you may slide your mask away from your mouth in order to place the Eucharist in your mouth. Then slide your mask back over your mouth promptly, and kneel as usual.

Dismissal

At the conclusion of Mass, ushers will dismiss alternating sections of the church from back to front, as shown in the animation below. This will help to ensure safe social distancing and an orderly exit from the church.

 

Thank Your for Your Patience

This new way of doing things will take some getting used to, and we anticipate that there will be some bumps in the road, but we will get through this together – We Are St. John!  Please understand that these new procedures and protocols enable us to safely worship while remaining in compliance with all of the guidelines we must follow.

We’re thrilled to welcome you back to St. John to worship together again!

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Archdiocese Phased Approach to Reopening

The Archdiocese of Baltimore (AOB) has outlined a phased approach for parishes to open, once it is permissible to do so per local jurisdictions.  The AOB “phases” are somewhat different from the state of Maryland’s “phases,” including maximum capacity limits for AOB churches, which is set at up to 1/3 capacity.  At St. John, once the pews are marked to allow for proper social distancing protocols, our maximum capacity will be approximately 100 people, including clergy, ministers, servers, musicians, etc.

We have been preparing the church and lining up volunteers, as well as establishing the procedures that will help keep everyone safe and in compliance with Archdiocesan and government requirements.

Recognizing that many will still be concerned with exposure, and that many parishioners may be unable to attend Masses due to being over the age of 60 or part of an at-risk group, the Archbishop has maintained dispensation of the Sunday Mass obligation, even when we reopen. We encourage those concerned to stay home and participate in our Sunday Live-streamed Mass on Facebook at 9:00 AM.

Fr. Pete has written a letter to help explain the current situation, and the letter is posted below (click images to enlarge).  You may view a PDF version of the letter here.

The Archdiocesan Phase 1 Guidelines are also available here for your review.