Friday, 22 May 2020
We are reopening the Church for prayer and mass on May 25th! The schedule at St. James will return that day. We will have confessions at 7:45 AM and mass open to all the Catholic faithful will begin at 8:30 AM. Daily mass will continue as normal. Pentecost Sunday, May 31st will be our first Sunday back with a full schedule of masses.
After mass, we will expose the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration all day until 9:00 PM (all adorers, please come and take your normal hours but in the main church). The Lumen Christi Adoration Chapel will still be closed due to the small size.
It has been about two months since the suspension of public masses went into effect in our Diocese of Savannah. These last few months have been excruciating for all of us. Going through Holy Week and Easter without people in the pews pierced your hearts and the hearts of your priests, deacon, and sisters. Day after day and Sunday after Sunday we felt the pain of one another as we walked through this shutdown. We did our best to bring you an encounter with Jesus through the live streaming of all the Masses, Holy Hours, Devotions, and Vespers.
First of all, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday mass will remain in place at least through June 28, 2020. Also, I would like to remind everyone that if you are ill, do not come to Church. Any parishioners who are uncomfortable about attending mass due to the coronavirus or the safety measures implemented, you are free to stay home. In addition, if you are in the higher risk category due to current illness, age or suffering a chronic health condition or compromised immune system, please stay home. The choice to come to mass is yours. You do not have to come to mass if you are still apprehensive.
There is a risk of opening up, no one is denying that. We, however, will be doing certain things which will alleviate some of that risk. So that we may social distance, 200 people will be admitted into the Church for mass. This is 25% of our capacity. If the need arises, we will have an overflow mass in the gym. Wearing masks at the masses is recommended, but not mandatory. The training room (cry room) and the nursery will be closed. No holy water will be in the fonts. The sign of peace will be omitted. The Precious Blood will not be distributed. Receiving Holy Communion on the hand is preferable, although receiving Holy Communion on the tongue will not be denied. These, among other things, will help decrease the risk. We have more details that you can find at our website.
There will be no choir at the masses. Singing by the congregation should also be at a minimum. The hymnals have been taken out of the church. The readings and the hymns will be provided in the bulletin or the worship aides handed out at the beginning of mass. Please take them home with you or throw them in the trash receptacles at the doors of the church. Also, please wash your hands before you come to church. We will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available, but the supply is short. Please bring your own with you if you desire.
I am excited to see everyone again after such a long time! Welcome back!
May the Lord Jesus bless you and your families abundantly! Stay safe and well!
~ Fr. Daniel F. Firmin