Coronavirus News For Our Cluster

An Update from Father Tom
Resuming Public Masses
May 23 2020
Updated Yet Again: The Resumption of Public Masses without Reservations, With Precautions, and In Line with Public Health Authorities
There is an old saying that any successful home repair requires three trips to the hardware store. Apparently the same is true for announcing the resumption of public Masses.
My first communication was the bulletin, written on Wednesday and perhaps still on your kitchen counter. This was outdated by the statement from the Minnesota Bishops allowing the resumption of public Masses while negotiations continued with Governor Walz.
Now, on Saturday afternoon, I can share with you the news from Bishop Kettler that a resolution has been reached. Governor Walz will issue an executive order that permits our parishes to resume public Masses on Wednesday, May 27 with up to one-fourth the capacity of each church (as determined by the fire marshal) or up to 250 persons, whichever is less.
So there are two very minor changes from what was shared on Friday: first, that the date has been delayed one day, until May 27; second, that the number permitted is changed to a quarter of the site’s capacity.
Again, since we are no longer limited to ten persons, you do not need to call for a reservation at this time. If the resumption of larger public celebrations proves problematic, we will adapt as necessary.
Some clarifications:
– The dispensation from the Sunday obligation remains in effect for all Catholics. That is, attendance at public Masses, weekday or weekend, is completely optional. There is no obligation or expectation for anyone to attend. Those who are feeling ill are not to come. Those who have concerns about health or safety, especially those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions, are encouraged to stay at home. We will continue our daily livestreaming of Mass, as noted below.
– The public celebration of Masses with these limited numbers begins on Wednesday, May 27. Again, you do not need to call to reserve a space. The Mass schedule is on page 5 in the bulletin. Please check each week because this schedule may vary. Generally:
  Weekdays:    7:00 a.m. at St. John Cantius (M, T, W, Th)
                                   7:15 a.m. at St. Anthony’s (T, W, Th, F)
                                   10:00 a.m. at Holy Spirit (livestreamed) (M, W, Th, F)
          Saturdays:     4:00 p.m. at Holy Spirit
                                   4:30 p.m. at St. Anthony’s
           Sundays:       7:30 a.m. at St. John Cantius
                                   8:45 a.m. – Mass in Latin at St. John Cantius
                                   9:15 a.m. at St. Anthony’s
                                   9:30 a.m. at Holy Spirit (livestreamed)
                                  10:30 a.m. at St. John Cantius
Precautions We Will Take
The precautions outlined earlier must be observed. In most cases, they are already more strict than the State is requiring. Our plan has been specifically approved by the Diocese, and we ask most seriously your cooperation with these precautions. These include:
– social distancing of six feet will be required. Members of the same household may sit more closely to one another if they choose.
– total attendance at Masses is not to exceed one-fourth of each church’s seating capacity as determined by the fire marshal. Practically, this means: 80 at St. John Cantius; 185 at St. Anthony (with balconies); 125 at Holy Spirit (overflow of an additional 30 is possible). Please follow the directions of ushers and the signs, ropes, or tape marks provided to keep appropriate space, including in the Communion procession.
– we ask your cooperation to minimize restroom use as well.
– funerals, Baptisms, and weddings with Mass may resume within these limitations. However, we will not be able to offer funeral dinners or host receptions.
– more generally, in line with diocesan guidance and social distancing, we will not be having any meals, receptions, sale of items, sign-ups for events, or social gatherings at the churches at this time.
– face coverings are strongly encouraged; gloves may be worn by those who choose. They need to be removed in order to receive Communion, of course. Reception in the hand is preferred at this time. However, the celebrant, deacon, music ministers, and lector will not wear these items due to the nature of their role in the liturgy.
– we will not be using Mass servers or choirs/ensembles at the present time. Music will be limited to an accompanist and cantor at most, or the entire Mass with antiphons will simply be spoken, which is foreseen in the Rite.
– Communion will be offered only under the form of bread.
– when weekend Masses resume, the collection will be taken up with long-handled baskets or dropped into baskets as you leave; please follow the celebrant’s directions. Those who wish may continue to mail in their contribution or use electronic giving. Thank you for your ongoing support!
– the Sign of Peace and the procession with the gifts will be omitted.
– the Holy Water fonts will remain empty, and the hymnals and missalettes are removed from the church and placed in storage for now. Bulletins will be placed on tables for you to take rather than handed out; they are also online if you prefer not to have a paper copy.
– the pews, door handles, musical and technical equipment, and other surfaces and objects used will be sanitized between each Mass.
Additional Information on Parish Life
The parish offices will remain closed to public business; as before, please email or call for assistance from our office staff.
Confessions remain by appointment only; please call your parish office to reserve a time for either Thursday afternoon or Saturday afternoon.
Public prayer and Adoration will continue at St. Anthony’s as we have done since May 4, with slight changes for the weekend:
           Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
           Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
           Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Plans for Baccalaureate, First Communions, Confirmation, and other parish events still remain pending. We apologize for the many inconveniences.
Please continue to pray for an end to this pandemic, for peace in our communities and world, for those who are suffering in manifold ways from the consequences of this worldwide crisis, and for the coming of the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide.
Thank you for your understanding and your cooperation.
Fr. Tom





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Latest letter from Fr. Tom:

A Message From Father Tom


Dear Friends in Christ:
On Tuesday afternoon, April 7, the pastors of the Diocese received an update from Bishop Kettler. I share with you the Bishop’s decision that public Masses will not resume until at least May 15.
While this is of course disappointing, especially in the Easter season, I understand the need to continue to “flatten the curve.” Through involvement with St. Cloud Hospital, I regularly hear the medical and public health side of this concern, and the peak surge for COVID-19 infection is expected around mid-May; some even project into June. We have had success in slowing the spread of the virus, and it is important not to lose that momentum to allow preparations to continue so we can avoid if possible the tragic outcomes we have seen in New York, New Jersey, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere in our nation and world.
It seems counterintuitive to be doing something vital by doing “nothing” – but as Bishop Kettler notes, slowing or preventing the spread of this virus is itself an active work of charity and respect for life.
Note that these are not new restrictions, just their extension for a longer time. If circumstances with the virus change, this timeframe may also change … we are learning flexibility.
Along with this ongoing suspension of public celebration of Masses, Bishop Kettler’s directives mean that for the present and at least until mid-May:
  • our parish offices and buildings will remain closed to the public. Please call or email with parish business; our staff are working from home or in the office as needed
  • the Adoration chapel remains closed, and Holy Hours and other individual and group prayer will continue to be observed at home
  • Confirmation will be rescheduled by the Bishop some time after May
  • First Communions are also postponed; we will let families know as soon as we can on alternative dates but certainly not until after May 15
  • funeral Masses remain prohibited, with graveside services taking place for now and Memorial Masses to be scheduled after restrictions are lifted
  • Baptisms are to be rescheduled to a later date as well
  • weddings already scheduled may take place without a Mass and with less than ten people present
  • confession is available by appointment only. To allow us to schedule other responsibilities, we will be designating specific times that confessors will be available for appointments. Please watch for further information after Easter
  • the Divine Mercy Sunday observance in our area, normally at St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be offered online (a link will be posted when available)
Regarding finances: along with our schools, our parishes are applying for the various provisions of the CARES Act that are advantageous and open to non-profits. We will do all we can to support our valued staff, meet our financial responsibilities, control our costs, and emerge intact from this challenging time.
Thank you most sincerely for your faithful financial contributions during this time. As you will see in our online bulletins, many continue to support the parishes through the mail. I know that stamp and trip to the mailbox are added steps but it is very much appreciated!
Regarding parish life: this extension will mean that we will need to continue to find creative ways to keep our parish connections and ministries functioning. We will be convening virtual meetings with our staff and our Pastoral Councils soon to discuss this.
We will continue to livestream our daily Masses and offer occasional programs to engage those interested in various topics. We are brainstorming.
One other change: due to circumstances beyond our control, the 8:30 a.m. Easter Sunday Mass will not be livestreamed. The 10:30 a.m. Mass on Easter will be livestreamed.
This is hard, but above all, please know that Fr. Greg, Deacon Frank, and I pray daily for each of your households, along with our nation and our world. It sounds a bit hollow to say “we’re here for you” when so much is closed down, postponed, or simply not possible right now; but we are truly one Body in Christ. As we enter these most sacred days and share in the victory of Jesus over the power of sin and death, we are reassured once more that the Lord will never fail us.