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Steubenville diocese issues guidelines for resumption of masses

Ironton Catholic churches will follow same dates

STEUBENVILLE — Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton, in consultation with clergy and laity and after review of norms and practices in other dioceses and organizations, has released guidelines for when the diocese resumes daily public Masses May 18 and Sunday Masses, the weekend of May 30-31.

The Diocese of Steubenville is the local Catholic Church in 13 counties of southeastern Ohio, which include Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Monroe, Noble and Washington.

Father David Huffman, of the Ironton Catholic Community, said that they will be following these guidelines and dates.

General

  • The dispensation from the obligation to participate in Mass remains in effect.
  • Those faithful who are in at-risk groups, those who care for people in at-risk groups, and those who have any symptoms of sickness at all are most strongly encouraged not to go to Mass.
  • Social distancing of six feet is to be maintained (including in the nave, the processional / recessional, sanctuary, sacristy, entrances to restrooms, etc.). Families/households do not have to do this social distancing amongst themselves because they already live together.
  • Facilities that are in use, especially highly-touched items (e.g., pews, door knobs, rails, etc.) are to be cleaned with disinfectant/cleaning solution following each liturgy.
  • The faithful are strongly encouraged to wear face masks, which can be temporarily removed for the reception of Holy Communion. Priests and deacons should not wear masks during the celebration of the liturgy.
  • There are to be no special gatherings following Mass. People should not congregate outside church; social distance is to be maintained at all times.
  • Holy water fonts are to remain empty.

   Seating

  • A church may not exceed occupancy of more than 50 percent of seating capacity. Once capacity is reached, ushers are to kindly refrain from admitting more people into the church.
  • To ensure social distancing in the pews, there are two options: Close off every other pew with tape or rope, and alternate the open pews between the opposite side of pews is recommended.

   The Mass in general

  • Mass should not be unnecessarily prolonged, so as to avoid people being in a social setting for too long and to allow sufficient time for cleaning of the church between Masses. As such, briefer homilies, less music and other issues are to be taken into consideration. However, the integrity of the liturgy is to be strictly respected and no required parts of the Mass may be omitted.

   Distribution of Holy Communion

  • Pastors may consider one of the following options for the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful: The communion procession with social distancing maintained in the procession; Communion distributed at the altar rail with social distancing maintained; and the priest, deacon, or extraordinary ministers taking Communion to the faithful in their pews by utilizing the space of the empty pews.