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Updating Health and Hygiene Practices

Bishop McKnight has issued a new decree governing the liturgical and pastoral activities of the parishes of the Diocese of Jefferson City. The substance of the decree will be effective June 1; however, there are some liturgical practices that can be implemented as soon as advisable. The most significant point is the lifting of the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass beginning June 1. Unless you are symptomatic, or have been advised by medical doctors to avoid public gatherings, or who are otherwise ill or homebound, or a caregiver of someone who is ill or homebound, you are under the grave obligation to fulfill the precept of the Church regarding Sunday Mass attendance.

Mask use is recommended for those who have not been vaccinated, as recommended by the CDC. Those who have been vaccinated do not need to wear a mask to attend church at this time. However, ministers at the altar and ministers of hospitality at Our Lady of the Lake will need to continue mask use and extra hand hygiene, at least until the end of May, since they would be more regularly and closely engaging with the general public. For the weekend of May 15-16, we will continue to block off every other pew as we transition to open seating while providing some opportunity for social distancing.

While we welcome a little bit of normalcy in our public gatherings, we still need to be attentive while the increased risk of serious illness is still present. As encouraged by our bishop and other legitimate and sound advisors, vaccination against COVID-19 is the best strategy for the common good to prevent serious illness and death. We are especially aware of those in our community who are not recommended to receive a vaccine at this time because of other serious health issues. We hope to provide a reasonably safe place for them to worship. We will continue to live-stream our services for the many folks who are still not able to join us.

Beginning May 15, I will once again invite the congregation to exchange the sign of peace. We will not at this time offer the Precious Blood but will re-visit this issue at our May Worship Commission meeting. We will resume taking up a collection during the preparation of the gifts and plan on reintroducing the Offertory Procession on June 5th, at which time will we be better prepared to task ushers and families to assist in the procession.

Mass coordinators, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, Ministers of Hospitality, Readers, and altar servers are all encouraged to update their availability profile in Ministry Schedule Pro to assist office staff in scheduling. Please stay alert for further updates and guidelines as we continue into the next phase of our pandemic response.