Attending MassPlease read instructions carefully
Link for Christmas Sign Ups only: https://signup.com/go/VXAbmKT
Beginning after Christmas, December 26, 2020, we will no longer require signups to attend Mass. In addition, beginning today, the formula for how many people can attend Mass in the church has changed as well. For now, will now begin overflow seating in the gym after we reach 175 people in the church. Sheridan and Grand Ronde remain unchanged. We still require masks, social distancing, and following proper safety precautions from all who attend. We will continue to enter through the main church doors. Please read the fuller explanation by Fr. Mike after the specific instructions below:
Those who cannot come:
• Anyone who is sick or showing any cold or flu like symptoms, please do not come.
Those who might want to consider not coming:
• Anyone who is elderly and/or compromised in health should consider not coming.
For now we will be providing Masses:
At St. James:
• Wednesday-Friday at 8:30am (English with a Spanish homily recap) (check bulletin for exceptions)
• Saturday at 5pm (English)
• Saturday at 7pm (Spanish)
• Sunday at 9am (English)
• Sunday at 12pm (Spanish)
At Good Shepherd in Sheridan (for Parishioners of Good Shepherd): Masses at 8:30am (English).
At St. Michael in Grand Ronde (for Parishioners of St. Michael): Masses at 10:30am (English).
We will also continue to stream Masses and other events on the St. James McMinnville YouTube channel and it will be linked from the St. James McMinnville Facebook page.
• Confessions are at 3:30 pm on Saturdays.
We are asking you to:
• Use the hand sanitizers available at the back of the church.
• Keep a 6-foot distance from others at all time (family members can sit together).
• Sit in the assigned pews that have been sanitized and arranged for social distance.
• Do not touch your face or anything else that you don’t have to.
• We are required to wear a mask while at church.
• Plan to be at the church at least 10 minutes before Mass time to avoid traffic at the entrance.
• If receiving on the tongue, please allow others to receive first.
From Fr. Mike:
Beginning after Christmas, the changes in the state requirements as well as the directives from Archbishop Sample permit us to have Mass without the need to do sign ups. In addition, the formula for determining the number of those who can attend in church have changed to be 50% of the official capacity or the number that can safely fit following proper social distancing requirements of six feet between families of the same household. To be safe, we have chosen 175 as a low and cautious estimate and one that we easily worked with in our recent past.
On a personal note, as your pastor, I have tried to maintain as far as possible the ability for everyone who wants to attend Mass to be able to do so while also being mindful of the safety of all parishioners. Our safety precautions have paid off. We have had no outbreaks that originated at the church. However, more often than not I have often found the state’s requirements too restrictive and it has hindered people’s ability to freely express their religious practice. This has concerned me from the beginning of the pandemic as I have noticed that a misuse of the word “essential” implies that faith is less essential than materialistic or secular considerations. We need to be safe but we also need to put our faith at the forefront of our necessities. We can all do that appropriate to our own situation.
I am happy to hear of the new instructions since I think they find a better balance and put us on par with other “essential” services. That being said, I want to approach the new directives cautiously because COVID is a real risk and I do take seriously my old as a pastor of people’s spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing. I realize that there are those who have decided for good reasons to avoid public Masses and other activities as part of their discernment. I also realize that many are trying to find the right balance in their lives. Therefore I would like to mention a few things as well as offer some suggestions:
1. Church is safe although that is not an absolute. Of the top 100 spreaders of the virus in the state, not a single church was listed. What was listed were several retail stores, work places, and many “essential” establishments that were not required to follow regulations as strictly as our church was. Still, there is a level of risk in any place where people congregate so we need to stay attentive. We also need to discern the level of risk that we are willing to accept and act accordingly. As the data currently shows, it is fair to say church is safe since we have a lower risk than many places people are currently visiting and assume as being “safe” because they have been deemed “essential”.
2. For those who wish to attend live Masses but keep risk as low as possible, I would recommend coming at times when you are more likely to find the fewest parishioners. This would include daily Masses and Saturday evenings. Remember that the dispensation from the Sunday obligation still applies and is intended for those at highest risk including the elderly and of compromised health.
3. For those who wish to minimize risk to the highest extent possible, we will continue to have the online options. We have our YouTube channel at St. James McMinnville where you can watch not only the Sunday Masses but also a variety of other programs including the Catholic Combine which combines Bible study, the official Catholic Catechism, and prayer experiences. You can also find Fr. Mike’s Homilies Podcast, Fr. Mike’s Bible Study Podcast, and the Catholic Combine podcast. Use this time to participate in Sunday Mass as much as possible, pray, and learn the faith through these many options.
4. It isn’t too much longer that many of us will have access to the vaccine which has been shown to be very effective. My hope is that as the situation improves, we can further increase our participation in our faith.
5. One concern I have is that many people who are not in a particularly high risk group have chosen to check out of the practice of their religion. I am concerned that our focus on physical wellbeing (an appropriate concern) has come at the expense of a proper concern for our spiritual wellbeing. We need to keep both in balance and not sacrifice our spiritual wellbeing because in an absolute sense it is more essential. Now is the time to move deeper in our knowledge and practice of the faith. There is nothing that stands in our way or keeps us from being able to do that. So do what you realistically can and be prudent without living in fear. God is with us as he has always been and your Church is with you as well.
God bless you,