May 16, 2020

Archbishop Wester issued a letter to the priests of the Archdiocese where he informed us that public Mass celebrations can begin this weekend May 16th and 17th.   In his letter the Archbishop stated that, “It is of paramount importance to remind our people that the Church values their safety and well-being. Life is sacred and we are taking every precaution to protect our people from the coronavirus. We realize that there is always a measure of risk in anything we do.  Anytime we leave the house we are increasing, to some extent, our risk of contracting COVID-19.  These protocols, reflective of those put into place yesterday by our governor, are based on sound medical advice and we believe they keep this risk at a minimum.” 

As a result of a conference call meeting with members of our OLA Parish Council, I decided to postpone the public celebration of Mass here at Our Lady of the Assumption until next weekend Saturday, May 24th and Sunday May 25th giving us ample time to prepare.  The exact times for the Mass are under discussion, but at present I expect we will celebrate one Mass on Saturday and two masses on Sunday.  The question of who, when, and how to attend mass, while keeping to the directive that no more than 25% capacity will be allowed, is part of the discussion. Many other issues will need to be decided before next weekend; therefore, our Parish Council will meet next week, Monday, May 18th to discuss and resolve these issues before public Mass celebrations begin in our church.  

I have included the Diocesan directives for the public celebration of the Eucharist below.  Please take a moment to read them.  We will comply with all the directives and will use them as our guide through this transition period.  I am,

Diocesan Directives

Mass in Church during COVID Pandemic: 1st Phase of Return 1
(Version of May 14, 2020)

General Guidelines:

  • Attendance limited to 25% of building capacity, per fire marshal assessment. Pastors have the prerogative to limit to less if they feel it is prudent. 
  • Dispensation from Sunday obligation remains for all.
  • Safety/ common good is the priority. Coordination with staff will be essential, as will be clear and detailed communication to the people.
  • Local pastors can make these directives more stringent as necessitated by local conditions; however, they cannot make them less strict.
  • The reopening will be accomplished in phases.
  • The Archbishop/Vicar General will continue to offer live stream/recorded Mass each Sunday and weekdays, and parishes are encouraged to do so as well.
  • Social distancing/masks/increased cleaning are mandatory. Each measure presents an additional layer of protection, which individually may be insufficient.
  • Cleaning staff should be present to disinfect commonly-touched surfaces after each Mass (pews, door handles, rails, etc.) Have on hand ample cleaning supplies, and masks if possible.
  • Persons over 60 and with compromised immune systems should be pre-advised that they are at increased risk and be encouraged to remain home.
  • Communicate that these guidelines are for the safety of lives and health for themselves and neighbors, and that continued opening depends on everyone’s cooperation.
  • The Archdiocese remains responsive to changes in conditions/requirements and will revise these instructions periodically as necessary.

In Churches:

  • No open holy water present. There may be a dispenser for people to fill bottles if desired.
  • Wipe down commonly-touched items such as pews, chairs, ambos, handrails, door handles, etc. between Masses. Prop open doors if possible.
  • Remove missalettes/hymnals and worship aids; these are vehicles for contamination.
  • Remember that Livestream music requires a separate license.
  • Restrooms to be disinfected after each liturgy, with disinfecting supplies also available for persons utilizing the facilities.
  • Map out seating/give assignments with at least 6 ft distance between families in all directions. This may require roping off some pews.
  • Consider reservations/revised capacity, and persons must sit where directed in clearly marked designated seats. They may not be able to get their “regular” place. Ushers will be needed to direct them.
  • Cry rooms to be closed; inform families beforehand.
  • Those of the same household sit together.

 Individual Responsibility:

  • Sick/symptomatic stay home, as well as those with health vulnerabilities or weakened immune systems. Mass in Church during COVID Pandemic: 1st Phase of Return 2 (Version of May 14, 2020)
  • Face masks are required for children age 3 and over. Parents are highly recommended NOT to bring children less than 3 years old. Persons without masks will be turned away until they can obtain one.
  • Encourage attendees to bring their own disinfecting supplies to assist the parish during/between Masses.
  • Prepare Children: Children 3 and older must have a mask and understand the need to wear it, having social distancing explained to them. Small children need to be with an adult at all times and not allowed to wander or visit with neighboring persons/families. Children younger than 10 should be accompanied by a responsible adolescent/adult at all times, including in the restroom.
  • Let persons know if masks/sanitizer available and that they are required.
  • Persons with allergies who are sneezing/coughing please refrain from attending out of charity to others.

Our Lady of the Assumption Church

Rev. Edward C. Domme, Pastor
811 Guaymas Place NE
Albuquerque, NM  87108
Parish Office (505)256-9818