Local churches will reopen for public mass from Monday June 29, but St Peters PP, Canon Eugene Sweeney has reaffirmed the policy that 'the safety and health of parishioners is of paramount importance' and some normality will return with Government direction and the Framework Document issued by the Irish Bishops' Conference.
The following applies in both St Peter's Our Lady of Lourdes Churches from 29 June:
1. The dispensation from the Sunday and Holy Day obligation continues.
2. People who are vulnerable or unwell, and especially those with any symptoms that might suggest Covid-19 infection, should stay at home. The same applies to those who have been in recent contact with someone who has the virus, in accordance with public health advice.
3. A Covid-19 Support Team has been put in place in both St Peter's and Our Lady of Lourdes Churches to prepare for and implement the return to public Mass.
4. Stewards will be available at all Masses to assist.
5. Automatic hand sanitisers will be available at all entrances to the churches, and parishioners are asked to use them as they enter the church.
6. Mass times will be as they were prior to the cancellation of public Mass in March:
St Peter's; Saturday Vigil, 6.15pm. Sunday, 8.00am, 11.00am, 12.15pm. Monday to Friday, 8.30am, 10.30am. Tuesday, also 7.30pm. Saturday, 10.30am. Our Lady of Lourdes Saturday Vigil, 7.30pm. Sunday, 9.30am, 10.30am, 12.00 noon. Monday to Saturday, 10.00am.
7. All Masses will continue to be broadcast live by parish webcam on the parish website, www.saintpetersdrogheda.ie.
8. Memorial Masses for those who died during the time of no public Mass, Month's Mind Masses and First Anniversaries may be held, for the time being, on a weekday evening in either church.
9. Signage will be in place in both churches. Regular cleaning and sanitising will take place. The Parish has acquired an electric ULV fogging machine for the sanitising of seats.
10. The physical (social) distancing demands of the public health authorities, currently two metres, will be maintained. This means that the maximum number of people who can be accommodated at any given time will be much reduced. Some rows of seats will be cordoned off. The specific part of a seat which may be used will be marked by a praying hands sticker. Those from the same household can sit together, while those who come to Mass alone will require a place to themselves. Seats will be allocated on a first come basis.
11. Holy Water fonts will not be used.
12. The Sunday collection will be taken up at the church entrances and exits.
13. Designated seats will be available for Ministers of the Word and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion on the sanctuary for the duration of Mass.
14. The Sign of Peace will be omitted.
15. As in the period before the cancelation of public Masses, Holy Communion may be received on the hand only.
16. Priests and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will sanitise their hands both before and after the distribution of Communion, and wear a face-covering while distributing Communion.
17. Baptisms will recommence on the weekend of 4/5 July. Details are as follows: Our Lady of Lourdes Church: Every Saturday at 5.00pm. Register at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Sacristy, Friday and Saturday, 9.30am - 12 noon. Tel 041 983 1973.
St Peter's Church: Every Sunday at 1.00pm. Register at St Peter's Church Sacristy, West Street, Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 12.30pm. Tel 041 984 5355.
18. Confessions, observing social distancing and hygiene requirements, will be held as follows: St Peter's Church: Wednesdays, 12.30-1.00pm; Saturdays, 12.30-1.00pm, 5.45pm - 6.10pm. Our Lady of Lourdes Church: Saturdays: 7.00pm-7.25pm.
'Returning to public Mass with considerable constraints is a challenge. The Covid-19 support teams, the sacristy teams, the Parish Pastoral Council, ushers, collectors and many others have done fantastic work, and will continue to do so. Many people have felt it a real deprivation to be away from public Mass for so long, though webcam has really helped. It will be a great relief and blessing for many to be able to receive Holy Communion again,' the Parish Priest stated.
'With the other priests I look forward again to the privilege of saying Mass with a congregation in the pews. It has been very difficult for families to be restricted to such small numbers for funerals, and it is great that this will now change. We look forward in hope to the day when the People of God can fully, freely and without restriction assemble again in the church, for community is central to the Christian way of life,' he added, on behalf of clergy, Parish Pastoral Council and sacristy teams.