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From Fr. David Medow

NEW DETAILS ABOUT THE REOPENING OF

NOTRE DAME PARISH

 

June 10, 2020

 

To the People of Notre Dame Parish:

Grace to you and peace from God Our Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Well, things change…as we have all been experiencing over the last several months! Yesterday we announced to you that we have received permission from Bishop Pates to reopen our parish for Masses with people attending and that we would limit the numbers at Mass to 10 people per liturgy. I expressed concern about our neighboring parishes opening immediately with 100 people or more and that we would try an alternative – Masses in the Parish Parking Lot.

Today I met with the Parish Staff to determine the best way for us to go forward. One thing that is of concern for us all is to make the best decisions that we can both to keep people safe as well as to maximize the ways that we can serve our parishioners. Everyone one of us – except one participant – are very reluctant to go the way of our neighboring parishes who have immediately gone from zero to 100 attendees or more at Mass.

The good news I have to share with you today is that, in our own way here at Notre Dame, my staff and I have decided to do more.

Since the Bishop invited us to begin to plan for reopening, the instructions were that we would be allowed to begin with 10 people at Mass and, once conditions allowed, we could increase that number to 50. But many parishes have started with 100 even though all the doctors that I am speaking with are telling me that it is not yet safe to gather that many people together. While the numbers of virus infections in this part of Illinois are heading the in the right direction, it is expected that the infection rate will spike due to the Justice Marches that have taken place in the area for a couple of weeks. I would hate to start with a high number of attendees at Mass and then have to dial that back in the face of higher infection rates or the dreaded and expected “second wave.”

I believe that our Parish Staff have come up with a better solution whereby we are able to open up for attended Masses with a safer number of people present (because we need a week to train the volunteers needed for Masses with more people, this weekend we will have 10 people at our weekend masses and increase to 50 people beginning June 20; we will begin with 10 people at daily Masses (again, we need a week to train our volunteers) and quickly move to 25 attendees – see the schedule below)…and then build up the numbers as the infection rates warrant. God willing, we will increase to beyond 100 before too long. This is the model that has been suggested to me by a parishioner who is a front-line doctor at one of Chicago’s main hospitals that has been dealing with the Covid-19 virus.

But we will do far more in order to accommodate more people. Soon we will have two attended Masses on Sundays as well as our Saturday evening Mass; in addition, Monday and Friday mornings (10 to 11 am) as well as Wednesday evenings (6 to 7 pm) we will have outdoor Communion Services in the front Piazza where people can come, briefly stand in line to pray and then come forward to receive the Eucharist from a Eucharistic Minister or a priest or deacon. During the Wednesday evening sessions, I will also be hearing Confessions in the Piazza (at a safe distance) as well. These events will move into the building if the weather requires. In this way, we can have many hundreds of people receive the Eucharist each week…achieving a level of bringing the Blessed Sacrament to people at a rate far higher than merely choosing to have 100 people at Mass.  

All of our Masses in the Church – daily and at weekends – will continue to be live-streamed for those who cannot come to Mass in person.

Other salient points of information:

  • we will be posting – before Friday – a digital sign-up for people to sign up to attend daily Mass and weekend Masses.
  • Even with people being welcomed back to Mass, in limited numbers, it will not be possible for you to sign up to attend Mass each weekend…we want to give as many people as possible the chance to attend.
  • Those without access to the Internet will be able to call the Parish Office to make a Mass reservation but only by speaking with the Receptionist, not by leaving a phone message.
  • When you come to Mass inside the building, you will be required to follow every instruction about wearing a mask, having your hands sprayed with hand sanitizer, where to enter, where to sit and where to exit the Church and the building. Attendees will only be permitted to sit in designated areas.
  • We will soon be issuing schedules and sign-ups for times of Adoration and Private Prayer. These would likely be held in the O’Keefe Room. Almost certainly, these events would be limited to weekdays during office hours (the spaces will require cleaning afterward).

 

 We will need many parishioners to help with volunteering to take on the many required tasks that go with reopening. Here are the areas where volunteers are needed:

 

  • Eucharistic Ministers (we will need 4 at each weekend Mass and 2 for the daily Masses; in addition, we are looking for help to distribute the Eucharist in the Piazza on Monday and Friday mornings and Wednesday evenings)
  • Ushers (these folks will direct people into seats and then out from Mass)
  • Greeters (responsible for ensuring that people enter and exit the buildings through the proper doors, checking people in who have reserved a spot, spray hands with sanitizer when they enter the building, possibly take their temperature [using a hand-held distance thermometer aimed at the forehead), and direct people how to enter the Church.
  • Cleaners (Since our Building Staff are typically not here at the weekends, we will need help with cleaning and sanitizing the places where people have been)
  • Those to purify vessels after Mass and set up for the next Mass (we plan to distribute the Eucharist using pyxes [Bishop Pates has approved this method] and, after each Mass, the pyxes will need to be taken to the Sacristy [behind the Altar] to be purified, cleaned and prepared for the next Mass.
  • All those who volunteer for these positions will need to be trained to follow the guidelines of our Diocese and the protocols for which we have been given approval. Those who sign up will not be able to fulfill those roles until they have been trained. The Parish Staff have gone through a lot of training through watching required videos and frequent reviewing of the Diocesan policies and guidelines. Training times will be sent to those who sign up online to take on these roles.

 

  • I am asking that the Volunteers come – as much as possible – from parishioners who are younger adults, under 60…remembering that those over 60 years of age are at a significantly greater risk from the virus. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR NON-SENIOR CITIZEN ADULTS TO STEP UP TO HELP AT A CRITICAL TIME.

 

  • If you want to be able to attend Mass more frequently, sign up to volunteer to help at weekend and/or daily Mass!

 

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL MASSES IN THE CHURCH. GO TO THE “SIGN-UP GENIUS” RESOURCE ON THE PARISH WEBSITE TO RESERVE A SPOT FOR YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

 

  • Here is the Mass Schedule for the rest of June:

Friday, June 12            8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church – NO ATTENDEES

Saturday, June 13        8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church – NO ATTENDEES

                                       5:00 pm Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

Sunday, June 14          9:30 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

Monday, June 15         8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

Tuesday, June 16         8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

Wednesday, June 17   8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

   6:00 to 7:00 pm Eucharist is available in the Front Piazza   (Confessions start next Wednesday)

Thursday, June 18       8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

Friday, June 19            8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

                                       10:00 to 11:00 am Eucharist is available in the Front Piazza

Saturday, June  20       8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 10 Attendees

                                       2:00 pm Wedding with 10 Attendees

                                       5:00 pm Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 50 Attendees

Sunday, June 21          9:30 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 50 Attendees

Monday, June 22         8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 20 Attendees

                                       10:00 to 11:00 am Eucharist is available in the Front Piazza

Tuesday, June 23         8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 20 Attendees

Wednesday, June 24   8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 20 Attendees

                                       6:00 to 7:00 Eucharist and Confession in the Front Piazza    

Thursday, June 25       8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 20 Attendees

Friday, June 26            8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 20 Attendees

                                       10:00 to 11:00 am Eucharist is available in the Front Piazza

Saturday, June  27       8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 20 Attendees

                                       5:00 pm Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 50 Attendees

Sunday, June 28          9:30 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 50 Attendees

                                       11:30 am Mass in the Church with 50 Attendees

Monday, June 29         8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 30 Attendees

Tuesday, June 30         8:45 am Live-Streamed Mass in the Church with 30 Attendees

So, there you have it! We are doing our best to be prepared to serve you and to do all that we can to keep people safe. Depending on how all of this goes, and also depending on the infection rates of the COVID-19 virus in the Chicago area, we can continue to expand the opening of our parish life and increase the number of people at Mass. However, please note:

  • People over 60 should consider not attending Mass at this point.
  • People who are aware of any recent exposure risk that they might have had should not attend Mass (have you been on any of the recent Marches for Justice in the Chicago area? Stay away from Mass for at least two weeks – and medical experts are advising marchers to get tested for Covid-19.).
  • If you feel at all unwell – or someone in your household is ill, even if it is not the COVID-19 virus, do not come to Mass.
  • If you have a fever, even a slight one, do not come to Mass.

Even though I am very cautious and concerned about open too much and too soon, I can tell you that I am very happy that I will be seeing you in the building and at Mass again soon. You have missed being here…I have certainly missed you!

But we are far from being out of the woods with this global pandemic. With every new medical pronouncement, there is also a statement from medical and scientific experts concerned that there is still so much about this virus that is unknown or they fear the surprises yet to come. That is why we need to proceed with caution…it is, after all, a matter of life and death!

It seems to me, as I have stated before, that precautions and special protocols with be with us until there is the widespread use of a safe and effective vaccine against this viral threat to the human race. It seems that such a vaccine will not be available for some time.

But, in the meantime, we continue to live as people of faith, hope and love; we continue on our life’s journey with the Lord, with our Blessed Mother and with one another. And all of this is happening during an historical time in the life of our beloved nation. We are going through the growing pains of becoming a more just and equitable society.

Our faith informs us, supports us and guides us in both these epic struggles – for freedom from the virus and freedom from prejudice and injustice. The Lord, who loves us and who calls us to the freedom that comes from God alone, will help us to realize both of these important goals.

I ask that we all pray to the Lord and to Our Lady for grace, guidance, and wisdom. Let us continue to pray for one another and support one another. I ask for your prayers, your support and trust, as well as your continued support for the life of our beloved Notre Dame Parish.

Oh what stories we will be able to tell…!!!

God bless you all! I hold you all in my heart with love and gratitude!

 

Your servant in the Lord,

Fr. David Medow

Pastor

 

 

 

June 9, 2020

 

To the Parish Family of Notre Dame Church:

Greetings to you in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

I want to update you on the latest developments on our parish reopening. As you know, many nearby parishes have reopened. We anticipate reopening no later than this weekend; we are currently waiting for the Diocese of Joliet to give approval of our reopening plan.

I am concerned, however, about the fact that many parishes are reopening with up to 100 people attending Mass. I have kept myself well-informed about issues related to Covid-19 and am frequently in contact with medical personnel. The risk of transmission of the virus is still significant – and even more so with the likely spike in infections as a result of the ongoing protests being carried out by large groups of people who are not keeping social distance. Last evening, I was in communication with a physician from our parish who is a frontline doctor in an area hospital. He told me that, in his professional opinion, it is far too early to open up to large groups…Masses with no more than 10 people is still the safest and best policy at this point.

Since my decision to lockdown our parish and our parish school, my constant concern is for the health and safety of our parishioners, our students and of our staff. Many of you may not be aware that several people from the Notre Dame family have died from the virus. While the infection rate appears to be improving, this is not the time to put anyone at risk.

Our staff have done a magnificent job of preparing to welcome people back to Mass. As soon as we get permission to do so, we will reopen. We are also asking the Diocese for permission to hold Mass in the Parking Lot (with people remaining in their cars) whereby we can welcome more than 100 people to Mass. We are working hard to make that happen.

We intend to announce a new Mass Schedule tomorrow (Wednesday) and post our online sign-up resources so that you can make plans for your return to the inside of Notre Dame Church.

You are all constantly in my prayers. I am so very grateful for the support – spiritual, emotional, and financial – that you have been giving to us. We are working hard to serve you in the best, most faithful and safest ways. God bless you all…and keep you safe and well!

Your servant in the Lord, Our Healer,

Fr. David Medow

Pastor