The State of New York, following recommendations from the CDC, lower rates of infection and higher numbers of people being vaccinated against COVID-19, has relaxed many of the restrictions which were in place. Because of that, with the pastoral care of the people of Brooklyn and Queens in mind, Bishop DiMarzio is issuing the following guidelines.
- Our Churches may open to full 100% capacity. There is no longer any need to rope off a pew between the occupied rows. Social distancing is still required for those who are not vaccinated. Unvaccinated parishioners should distance themselves from others who are not members of the same household.
- Hand hygiene is still required and disinfectant use should be encouraged. Additionally, it is wise to provide disinfectant at the entrances of the Church.
- For those who are not vaccinated, masks are still mandatory in Church. However, everyone is encouraged to wear masks while in Church.
- Hymnals and missalettes can once again be used.
- Lectors may begin reading from the main ambo or pulpit in Church.
- Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion may resume their ministry, using correct hand hygiene before and after Holy Communion.
- Offertory collections may resume with offertory baskets as usual.
- The Offertory Procession with the gifts of bread and wine can begin again.
- Choirs with vaccinated members can resume normal choir activities. Those not vaccinated should maintain social distance.
- Altar Servers may resume their ministry, observing necessary hygiene procedures.
- Holy Communion is still to be given under the form of Bread only. There are no shared Communion cups. Receiving in the hand is still the recommended practice.
We are relying on the honesty of people regarding their vaccination status. No one should be asked to prove having been vaccinated. Nor should anyone be compelled to sit in one place or another in Church.
The obligation to attend Holy Mass on Sunday is a sacred one and must be taken seriously. The dispensation from this obligation which has been in effect since the start of the pandemic will be lifted as of the weekend of June 5-6, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi). Although the dispensation will be lifted, those who are ill, or feeling unwell, those who care for the sick and those truly at risk are automatically dispensed from the obligation, as is always the case.
As the Bishops of New York State has stated: “The term ‘obligation’ does not adequately express the great privilege that is ours regarding attendance at Mass. It is not a ‘chore’ as the word could sound to modern ears. The Mass is the greatest gift that Our Lord has given to His people. It is a supernatural moment in which we are truly in His presence, to relive His passion, death and resurrection, to hear His holy Word, receive Him in Holy Communion, and give Him thanks and praise for blessings. More than an obligation, it is a remarkable opportunity – one not to be missed.”