What to Know Before Returning to Sunday Mass
Revised June 6, 2020
Welcome back! We are so happy to be able to come together for mass again, and we pledge do our best to have and maintain a clean and safe church for everyone based on guidelines from the CDC and the archdiocese. This note is provided to help you to comfortably return to mass at St. John the Baptist, and highlights aspects of our gathering that will look and feel different. If you have further questions, you may contact the parish office or ask a greeter or usher at church.
BEFORE COMING TO MASS
Remember that the Sunday mass obligation has been suspended until after Labor Day. Therefore, everyone is called to reflect on and determine when they are ready to return to public mass. If you are not comfortable coming back yet, are a senior citizen, are sick, or have underlying health conditions, you should stay home for now. At this time, live streamed masses will continue to be taped every Sunday, alternating between St. Mary and St. John. Please check the parish website or Facebook for the schedule.
All are expected to provide their own face masks. It is also recommended to provide your own small containers of hand sanitizer (or sanitizing wet wipes) that can be kept in a pocket or purse.
Please help us by minimizing the use of the church rest room. This can be aided by consciously using the facilities just before you leave home.
Since there is a limit to how many can be accommodated at each mass, it’s recommended to try to come earlier than you usually do. We must follow distancing requirements and a limit to approximately 25% of the church’s normal capacity. Seating will be on a first come, first serve basis. Last weekend, our first weekend back, we were able to accommodate everyone who came at all of the masses, but this may change as more people return to mass.
Please have your masks on before entering church. Except for those in the altar area, all are expected to keep masks on while in church except when receiving Communion.
All must enter through the middle doors. Be aware of social distancing as you enter church and meet others. The doors will be propped open to minimize physical contact. Greeters will be present to welcome you. Hand sanitizer is available inside of the church.
The holy water fonts are now empty. However, feel free to make the sign of the cross as you enter church.
Ushers and greeters will help direct you to your seat. Those who live together can sit together as usual. Please be flexible if you are asked to sit in a location that you are not accustomed to. We will accommodate seating requests as best we can.
Once in church, try to avoid touching surfaces as much as possible, such as the ends and backs of the pews. If you cannot genuflect without support, you may bow to the tabernacle instead.
The hymnals have been removed from the church, and there will be no congregational singing at this time. A cantor will provide singing, some less familiar hymns may be used, and there may be some instrumental music. For more information on music and singing at mass, please see the article that is in the online church bulletin or website.
The offertory procession is omitted. Instead of taking the collection at the usual time, please place your offerings in the designated baskets on your way out of church.
The sign of peace is omitted after the Lord’s Prayer.
You may wish to apply hand sanitizer when preparing to receive Communion. Please follow the directions of the ushers and greeters in forming Communion lines. Maintain distancing throughout your movement to and from Communion. Notice the markings on the floor to help guide distancing. In order to help us to avoid physical contact, all are encouraged to receive Communion in the hand. Come up the Communion line with your hands in prayer positon. After “The Body of Christ”, bow and say “Amen” with your mask on. Then pull your mask up or down to receive Communion while staying in your place, and immediately replace it after receiving the Sacrament. Return to your seat respecting proper distancing. No gloves are to be worn when receiving Communion.
The precious Blood will not be offered at this time.
Notice that there will be hand sanitizing stations near each person distributing Communion. If any feel the need to do so, they may briefly stop, place the ciborium on the pedestal, and sanitize their hand before resuming the distribution of Communion. For anyone who requests a blessing instead of receiving Communion, leave your mask on, and cross your arms over your chest. The priest or EME will offer a simple blessing without making physical contact.
Please wait until ushers and greeters approach to guide your departure from your seat. There will be no physical copies of the church bulletin distributed. Bulletins are posted on the parish website. The church doors will be open for your convenience.
Place your offertory gifts in one of the baskets on your way out of church. Thank you for your continued support of the parish.
Please do not congregate in church. Wait until you are outside of the building if you wish to visit with others with proper social distancing. The priest and deacon may greet people after mass wearing masks.
In Christian charity, let us come together to continue to be witnesses to our faith in the world, even in these challenging and uncertain times. See you soon, and be safe!
Transitions and Mass Update
We are now only a week away from the end of the Easter season and the great feast of Pentecost. As we commemorate the Ascension of Jesus this weekend, we see the meaning of this feast not so much as remembering an event, but an insight into the nature of Jesus’ identity as fully divine and the identity of the Church. The ascension is a mysterious experience for the apostles, who couldn’t adequately describe it. For them and us, the meaning is that God has indeed shown His victory through Jesus’ suffering, death, and rising. Now those who are baptized and believe in Him carry on His saving work in all times and circumstances. That’s us, here and now in the year 2020 and all it holds.
Change is the stuff of life, and we sure have our share of it these days. As I shared in the last week, I have heard from the archdiocese that Monroe will not be receiving another priest when Fr. Kevin leaves July 1st, at least not at this time. We will adjust to make this work, but it will involve change and flexibility on the part of all of us.
Fr. Giancarlo, Fr. Bob (when he returns in June), visiting priests, and I will serve God’s people as best we can, with the support and dedication of our parish staff.
On the positive side, a seminarian deacon will join us in ministry and pastoral presence beginning June 1. His name is Zaid Chabaan and he was just ordained a transitional deacon this past Friday. He has completed his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and will be with us full time for a year, at which time we pray that he will be ordained a priest. Zaid’s home parish is National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak. So we will be blessed with his faith, dedication, and enthusiasm, which will be good for our parishes and connect us to the larger Church. He loves history and is looking forward to getting to know this part of the archdiocese. Please welcome him when you see him.
On May 12, Archbishop published a letter with guidelines for the resumption of public Masses in the archdiocese of Detroit. This is great news that we have been waiting for! Here in Monroe, we resumed public weekday Masses on May 19. Even if it doesn’t show it in the bulletin, we have returned to our usual weekday Mass schedule at all three parishes, except that there is no Friday Mass at St. Mary at this time.
Public weekend Masses at St. John and St. Mary will begin next weekend, the great feast of Pentecost. The parish staff, parish leadership and I have been working out the details, since there are many guidelines that we must implement for the safety of all who come into church. When we return, it will be a new feeling, not back to the way we are used to experiencing mass. We trust in God that many of the changes are temporary.
If you haven’t done so, check out the archbishop’s letter and latest guidelines on the parish or archdiocesan website. Also, I have created a document to help you prepare to come back to Mass. It is included on the parish website. Please read it and maybe make a copy to refer back to. We plan to have people in church to welcome worshippers, give guidance for seating, and answer questions.
This weekend we will announce a provisional weekend Mass schedule at
St. John and St. Mary. We will evaluate things in the weeks to come, including attendance, knowing that we can only accommodate so many people at each Mass. Please remember that the Sunday Mass obligation is suspended through September 6, Labor Day weekend. If you are ill, have a health condition, or are nervous about returning to Mass at this time, please stay home and tune in to taped Masses. We fully understand and God will not hold this against you. I appreciate your patience as we learn together during this time. Please check the parish website and Facebook page for updates as they evolve.
For those who are able to come to Mass next weekend, if you can, wear something RED as an outward sign of our unity in the Holy Spirit, and our need for the Spirit’s guidance.
This holiday will likely be different for most of us as we begin the traditional summer season. Given our current situation, there will be no Mass at St. Joseph Cemetery on Memorial Day. Maybe this year we could expand our prayers to include not only those who have given their lives in service to our country, but all who have died because of the Covid 19 pandemic. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace!
It is a privilege and honor to celebrate Easter 2020 with all of you who are joined with us in prayer and faith, no matter where you are physically. In this unprecedented time, it may feel like Easter this year isn’t “real” because we cannot gather together as we are accustomed to, wearing our Easter best, coming together as families, greeting fellow believers, seeing, smelling, and hearing the beauty of the Church and the ritual of our liturgy. Not coming to mass, we also cannot receive the Risen Lord in the gift of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Yet, Easter is here, for us, even in this time of pandemic. This year, more than ever, we need of the Risen Lord, but maybe the circumstances of this time bring this need into sharper focus.
As difficult as it might be, I ask all of you to do your very best, connected to fellow believers through the blessings of technology, try to enter the meaning of Easter. I am doing my best to feel the joy and hope of this celebration as well, even though I do not look out to see a church full of my brothers and sisters. May we all feel in the deepest recesses of our hearts our ability to encounter the living God. Even with the limitations we are experiencing this Easter, this encounter can still happen.
Through and in His resurrection, Christ offers us life that is more than any comfort, health, freedom, material blessing, or even human relationship that we can experience in this world. We know that the world as we know it will pass away. We know that we are all mortals. Yet, we still take so much for granted, the blessings that our God has freely gives us every day. In our second reading, St. Paul says that Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning, the foretaste, the pattern of new life for those who have been baptized. This is a life that we look forward to, but don’t really fully understand now. The full reality of what is coming is now “hidden” from our sight.
Even though we look forward to the coming of eternal life, God’s life is at work in us now, if we desire it and are open to it. On the outside, so much has been taken away, it’s like we have lost our freedom. Yet, even with limited physical options, we can choose to live in the freedom of the children of God now. We offer up to the Risen Lord as a sacrifice of love what we may have “lost”: free movement, entertainment, financial security, trusted routines, the ability to gather with those we love in close physical contact, the ability to make plans for the near future. Some us fear for our health, and some of us have health issues. Some of us are grieving the loss of loved ones whose lives we cannot fully celebrate at this time. Like the women on Easter morning, we bring all of our sufferings and anxieties to the feet of the Risen Lord Jesus, as a way to offer Him homage.
In our own way, we can relate to the first witnesses to the Resurrected Lord were afraid: fear that Jesus was gone forever, fear that His promises would not be fulfilled, fear for their own safety, fear that everything they had begun to put their faith in was a lie, fear for the unknown future. Aware of this fear, both the angel and the Risen Jesus himself told the two Marys: “Do not be afraid!”. They would see much more than the limited experience of the moment. Jesus’ resurrection would penetrate their entire lives and give them the faith and courage to face all that the unknown future had in store for them. They and the eleven disciples would, in time, demonstrate a powerful conviction in proclaiming the Good News. Most of them would even be faithful to the point of giving their very lives for the truth of Jesus.
“Do not be afraid!”: We so welcome these words directed to us in this particular time. We want to believe that the Risen Lord will follow through on His promises to be with His beloved people in all things. This is the message that is conveyed to us on this Easter of 2020.
Do you realize that you are already a witness of the works of the Risen Lord? You have experienced His saving power in your life. We refuse to let this pandemic and all its effects take away our confidence, our memory of past blessings. We have so much to be thankful for. Gratitude for blessings already received is able to give us confidence in God’s blessings that are yet to come. Feel your gratitude on this Easter morning, and give this witness to others, the witness to which you have been commissioned through your baptism, through your faith, even as it is tested. This is the saving plan God prepared for His people from the creation of the world.
As we kneel before Jesus Him now, let us surrender our fears, frustrations, and powerlessness. Will we be ready to receive what He wishes to give us? The gift of Easter is here for us now, as we need it for this life and for eternity.
St. John Parish will be closed until further notice. Arrangements for individual confession or anointing can be made by calling the parish office. Although the office will be closed, staff will still be able to access emails and telephone messages.
To contact the staff call the office at: 734-241-8910: For the parish office press 0, for Fr. David, pastor, press 105; for Fr. Kevin, associate pastor, press 115; for Julie, finance director, press 104; for Amy, music director, press 107.
Current information can be obtained on our parish website at www.stjohnmonroe.com
St. John Office and Church Update
Dear people of God:
During this unprecedented time in our lives, I want to offer my love and support. This Lenten season of fasting has taken on a whole new dimension. I believe that through this difficult and uncertain time, we are all called to re-examine our lives in the light of our faith in God, who is always faithful to us. We take so much for granted. The life of the Church, living in the physical and imperfect world, is also affected.
As of March 13, Archbishop Vigneron has implemented a suspension of all public masses, devotions, and gatherings in groups. For the time being, this suspension lasts until Monday of Holy Week, April 6, 2020. The current CDC guidelines call for no more than ten people gathered in one place together. Unfortunately, as of March 18, for the safety of all, after conversation with the parish staff, the church building will not be open to the public until further notice. This includes the cancellation of Stations of the Cross devotions, Eucharistic exposition, and even scheduled confession times. The church may be accessed on an individual request basis through one of the priests or staff.
Beginning Friday, March 20, the parish office will not have posted open hours until further notice. Staff will come in to work as necessary, and will also work from home. Please contact one of the priests or the parish office for pastoral needs, including confession and anointing, or even just for conversation or spiritual support. If no one answers the phone, you may leave a message, which will be checked by the staff with some regularity. For urgent matters, use the parish office number and follow the prompt. This line is monitored by the parish priests. Fr. Kevin also is happy to be reached at his e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Communication is important. We are continuing to publish the church bulletin, which is available on the parish website; a few physical copies are also being printed. We have included information that supports you and your family during this time. Check the parish website for updates.
In our own homes, we are challenged to sustain and deepen our faith using the resources that are available. Read and pray with the daily and Sunday mass readings. Check out formed.org. We may be physically separated, but the Church remains a family in faith and love.
Let us continue to walk this Lenten journey in faith and trust, knowing that Jesus has already offered the perfect sacrifice for us, His people. We priests pray for you in our private masses, and please pray for us as together we move through Lent to Easter 2020.
Fr. David Burgard