996 Brayton Ave, Somerset MA (Click For Directions)
Monday-Friday: Suspended until further notice.
Please call 508-678-5513
On-line Giving Please consider on-line giving at: http://www.sjogsomerset.org/on-line-giving.html
Starting Sun. May 31st. until further notice
8:30am Mass at St. John of God
9:30am Mass at St. Dominic (in the church);
11:00am at St. Francis of Assisi
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
While most of us are very anxious to get back to the celebration of Mass, we need to be very aware that we’re talking about SLOWLY reopening. Many people seem to think that as of the weekend of Pentecost that we will simply go back to Mass as it used to be. THIS IS NOT SO! As Bishop da Cunha said to his priests, the Governor said that we CAN reopen, not that we MUST reopen. AND we are allowed to reopen on condition that the regulations set forth by the Commonwealth are strictly followed in terms of sanitizing for the protection of everyone involved.
The health regulations that have been issued require us to sanitize the entire church and any space used between services along with doorknobs etc. It is not a suggestion. It is mandated by the state as you hopefully read in the requirements that we’ve shared with you. While I initially figured out the numbers for 40% of what our sitting capacity is, the number did not consider the “6foot” rule between persons/members of a household. The number of people who will be permitted into each Mass then is reduced to an even lesser number. Because of the time that it will take to sanitize our churches, we will only be able to have one Mass per weekend at each of the three churches. Daily Mass will continue to be celebrated only privately without a congregation. The churches will NOT be open during the day for private prayer and adoration since we have neither the equipment nor the manpower at the present time to sanitize spaces every time that a person leaves.
I don’t know of any parish that has anticipated the scope of what we would be required to do. With the government buying most of the items related to COVID-19 protection, much of what we need and should have is not available to us. We did not order what we didn’t anticipate. This week however I have ordered three electrostatic disinfection spray systems - one for each of the parishes (sold one per customer) - hopefully these will be here towards the beginning of June. Once these arrive, we will hopefully be able to disinfect a bit more quickly and easily so as to allow perhaps two Masses per church per weekend. Much will depend on how quickly the disinfectant solutions dry once they are applied. Depending on the availability of the disinfectant solutions, they should help us to allow for at least one daily Mass a week in each of the three parishes. Much of this is yet to be determined since we also need to consider the possibility of funeral Masses. Funeral Masses could possibly require a daily Mass to be canceled as the funeral would take precedence.
Because of the numbers that will be involved vary from church to church and since we are one Mt. Hope Catholic Community of Faith, I am hoping to institute the following norms for us based on 3 Sunday Masses. The schedule will follow, in sorts, what we had before. 8:30am Mass at St. John of God; 9:30am Mass at St. Dominic (in the church); 11:00am at St. Francis of Assisi. In order to give fair access to Mass for the entire community, I am going to ask people to send in their Mass preferences to the rectories along with the number of persons per household who hope to attend. For example: a single person-1, a married couple without any children-2, a family with three children-5, a single parent with two children-3 and so on. People who do NOT live in the same apartment/house are not considered as one household. You can NOT pick up one of your friends and ask for the two of you to sit together. It is not permitted by state regulation. Because of the SIX FOOT RULE, we have determined that to comply with State regulations, the maximum number of seats available will be 72 seats each for St. John of God and St. Francis of Assisi and 32 seats at St. Dominic for a grand total of 176 per weekend. The number is horrifyingly small, but it is what it is. What is paramount is doing whatever is necessary to protect the health of each and every one of us.
Those wishing to reserve a place for themselves (members of a household) are asked to contact any of our rectories, preferably by using the parish email address. Include the name(s) of those who wish to attend, the time/church of choice and your phone number. We are hoping to notify most by email rather than by phone so as to expedite the process of notification. If you are aware of parishioners who do not have access to a computer, kindly notifiy them of our procedure and either email for them or ask them to call the rectory of choice. Should you chose to email FOR a parishioner, please remember to have their telephone number so that we can contact them as to a date for their Mass reservation.
Once we have gathered the lists of those who wish to attend a particular Mass, lists will be made filling the available spaces at our three churches in the order that requests were made. (We cannot at this time honor requests for particular weekends.) Those names who do not make the first cut will be invited for Mass on the second week. Those who do not make the first or second cut will be invited to Mass on the third week, and so on, repeating the list once everyone has had a chance to attend a Mass. Names of those permitted for a particular church/weekend will be checked off at the church entrance. Only those who are given a “reservation” will be permitted into the church. At the risk of sounding like a secular business - Walk-in’s are not welcomed!
Because of the difficulty that we will have initially sanitizing our worship spaces, all those who are allowed to attend Mass MUST enter and exit through the front doors of the church. You will NOT be able to enter through a side door. Because of this, the only Mass currently available for those confined to wheelchairs will be 8:30 at St. John of God due to the ground level entry.
The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday (or a vigil) remains suspended by the bishop for the foreseeable future. Government guidelines recommend that those persons 60 years or older should consider not going out. Those with underlying health/medical conditions are strongly encouraged to stay home. However, no parishioner regardless of age will be denied a place on the rotating Mass schedule, nor a place in church on their appointed day. Because the parking options vary from church to church, be mindful that “drop off’s” at St. Francis of Assisi are strongly discouraged, particularly since the area between the two driveways at the front doors of the church will be close to traffic.
When I met with Fr. Albino earlier this week he commented that closing the churches was easy (speaking from a practical point) but opening back up is not going to be easy at all. This process is FAR from ideal. It is not much to be liked. It is yet another cross for us to bear. Nonetheless, a little in this case is better than nothing; Mass perhaps once a month is better than no Mass at all. And again, those who are in a high risk category are encouraged not to attend. Likewise, those who are NOT in a high risk category but remain rightfully weary of venturing into a crowd, the obligation to attend remains suspended for the foreseeable future for all age groups.
As we begin this process of reopening, please be patient. We need to see how things go and perhaps make adjustments accordingly. There are going to be bumps in the road. But please realize that no individual is more entitled than another to attend Mass. At this point, because of government mandates, no one has a right to be present. However, everyone has a right to request a place at the table and EVERY request for a place will be honored IN TIME as fairly as possible. In the meantime, please let us ALL offer this next sacrifice in union with Jesus on the Cross for the benefit of our Mt Hope Catholic community and our individual linked parishes!
Saint John of God
Saint Francis of Assisi
MANDATORY SAFETY STANDARDS
All places of worship shall limit occupancy to 40 percent of the building’s maximum permitted occupancy level as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder. The occupant count shall include all persons inside the place of worship, including attendees and staff.
Staff or attendants shall monitor the number of attendees entering the place of worship to ensure compliance with the maximum occupancy level.
Attendees who are not part of the same immediate household must be seated at least 6 feet apart. Members of the same immediate household are permitted to sit together and less than 6 feet apart.
If there is fixed seating, rows should be blocked off and kept empty to allow for sufficient distancing between rows. All attendees and staff must wear face coverings or masks in accordance with COVID-19 Order No. 31 and the Department of Public Health’s Guidance while inside and while entering and exiting places of worship or otherwise participating in in-person services, except where a person is unable to wear a face covering or mask because of a medical or disabling condition.
For children between age 2 and 5, the wearing of a face covering or mask is at the discretion of the child’s parent or guardian. Children under the age of 2 should not wear a face covering or mask. A person who declines to wear a face covering or mask because of a medical or disabling condition shall not be required to produce documentation verifying the condition.
Places of worship may refuse entry to a person who refuses to wear a face covering or mask for non-medical reasons.
Recommended best practices
If feasible, places of worship are encouraged to arrange online sign-up for services in advance in order to monitor and limit the number of attendees.
Places of worship are encouraged to place tape or other visual distancing markings on seating to delineate 6 foot separations and to post signage indicating the maximum number of persons permitted per row.
Promote ventilation for enclosed spaces where possible. For example, consider opening windows and doors to allow airflow
Places of worship are encouraged to take steps to encourage orderly entering and exiting of services in a manner that encourages social distancing. For example:
• Signage or floor markings should be posted to have one-way aisles or otherwise direct attendees to follow certain pathways for entering and exiting the service.
• If a line forms outside of the service, those waiting should be directed to maintain social distancing. Tape or other markings on the ground outside of places of worship should be placed to encourage attendees to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.
• Staff should direct people in high traffic areas to help maintain social distancing.
• Officiants or other staff should direct successive, row-by-row exiting
Places of worship shall ensure that attendees and employees have access to handwashing facilities, including soap and running water, and allow employees sufficient break time to wash hands, as necessary.
Recommended best practices
They are also encouraged to make alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol available, if possible.
Places of worship shall not have communal gathering pre or post service (e.g., coffee hours or other food services). Places of worship running food pantries or other prepackage food distribution may continue to do so. Any childcare services shall remain closed until such time that there is additional guidance. If a place of worship learns that an attendee or employee or other worker has tested positive for COVID-19, it shall notify the local Board of Health (LBOH) in the city or town where the place of worship is located and assist the LBOH as reasonably requested to trace likely contacts and advise contacts to isolate and self-quarantine.
Recommended best practices
Places of worship are encouraged to modify the means to collect any financial contributions from attendees so as to eliminate shared contribution trays and baskets and to minimize contact. Consider setting up a no-touch method to collect contributions, and encouraging contributions through mail or electronic means.
Places of worship are encouraged to modify communal rituals, like taking communion or passing of the peace, so as to limit contact with others. Consider distributing, where applicable, prepackaged communion or sacraments. Places of worship shall be cleaned and disinfected between each service, including disinfection of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, bathrooms, microphones, shared instruments). If a place of worship learns that an individual with COVID-19 attended a service or otherwise entered the place of worship, it shall conduct a deep cleaning and disinfecting consistent with the Centers for Disease Control guidance
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Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
Please find below a link to the video concerning the reopening of churches for public Masses.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
It appears to me that when we get to this coming Pentecost weekend, Fr. Brian and I will not be seeing a whole lot of you. Fr. Brian will be presiding at St. Dominic. I will be at St.John of God and St. Francis of Assisi. Next weekend … just the opposite. Of our three parishes in our Mt. Hope Catholic Community, the only one of the parishes that will see attendance at the “limit” will be St. Dominic, mostly because the size of the church limits how many we can admit. The small numbers at all three parishes DELIGHT me as your pastor. In all honesty, I think that we in New England are opening up our churches earlier than we should. However, because the New England bishops have given the “green light” I feel compelled to offer the opportunity for Mass. The diocesan guideline have recommended that in parish grouping like our own, that Mass be celebrated in ONE location only. I don’t think that is particularly fair considering that we have parishioners who live between the Taunton River and a ways into Seekonk. We cover a large territory!
You may be aware that there are parishes in our general area who are having multiple Mass per day per weekend. In all honestly, I will not do that because it puts your health and mine at risk. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has told us that the virus which we are battling can linger on surfaces and in the air for days. The CDC directives for places of worship recommend that there be one service per site. After the service, windows should be open for at least one hour and then be closed. The worship site should be locked and not entered for at least 24 hours. At that point, the worship space may be sanitized.
Why 24 hours? The answer given by the CDC is that the virus/bacterias can linger in the air. After 24 hours, they will have fallen either to the floor or whatever stops them above the floor. At that point then, the worship spaces can be confidently sanitized. If we attempt to sanitize within an hour of Mass, or less then 24 hours, our attempts will be useless and we won’t be able to guarantee that we have sanitized properly or even to a point of safety. I know that there are other parishes that are having Mass every 2 hours. Honestly, it is impossible for them to properly sanitize their church according to the CDC guidelines. And of course, I cannot be answerable for the decision of other pastors but only for myself. However, Fr. Albino, Deacon Gary and I are all on the same page, so to speak, in our plan of reopening as we are all in agreement that the physical health of our parishioners must be put ahead of a rush to reopen.
As I mentioned in a past note, we have ordered and are awaiting sanitizing equipment which we anticipate will arrive sometime in the first half of June. Once we receive them and experiment with them, then hopefully we can expand our schedule. In the meantime, it is not my intention to put anyone at risk. Is it inconvenient??? You bet your bottom dollar that it is!!! Is it what I would have planned or hoped for??? Not even close. However I prefer to be cautious and minimize to the extent possible any possibility of any one of us being exposed to COVID-19. This virus is serious. This virus is deadly. This virus is still very much present in Southeastern New England. As your pastor, I would much prefer for you to be longing at home for the Eucharist than to be celebrating the cemetery prayers for you as I have already done for some of our Mt. Hope parishioners. This will end eventually. In the meantime, if we stay close to our Blessed Mother who herself longed to be reunited with her Ascended Son, then we will have the grace of patience in our waiting. In the meantime, for those of you who have chosen to stay home because of your unwillingness to expose yourselves to risk or because of underlying illnesses or because of your age … Thank you for using the God given gift of your intelligence. One of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is WISDOM .. thank you for availing yourself of that holy gift by not putting yourself at risk!
New Door - The Parish Office door, which was in much need of repairing, has been replaced with a beautiful door. It has a mail slot where you may drop off your envelopes. We are very thankful to one of our parishioners who donated the labor.
Thank you to the members of the Holy Rosary Sodalidy who crowned the statue of Our Lady, in front of the church, with a wreath of fresh flowers.
We continue to do the bible study… We conduct it over the Internet using a service called Zoom – for those who don’t have Internet there are Zoom service dial in numbers to participate over the phone... We do it every Thursday at 7 PM... Anyone wishing to participate can contact Carlos Tavares at 508-493-1120 or email@example.com... Carlos will send you the details to join the Zoom based bible study…
Message from Bishop da Cunha regarding First Communions and Confirmations. Please go to the link below.
Link to the 2020 Catholic Charities Video
Ligação do Vídeo das Caridades Católicas de 2020
English : https://www.catholicfoundationsema.org/appeal-video
The St. John of God Food Pantry and Ministry Meals are suspendend until further notice.
The St. John of God Annual Parish Feast has been postponed for 2021.
Thank you to all our Parish families who have taken the time to either drop off or mail their weekly donations to the rectory, and the families who signed up to donate online. It is very much appreciated. God Bless and protect everyone
Miracle Approved! Father McGivney to be Beatified!
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