My dear Parishioners of Nativity of Our Lord:
I am happy to announce that our church is now open for mass. Our previous mass schedule, for both weekdays and weekends, will remain the same as before.
Please note that we have determined that in order to maintain the proper 2 metre (6 feet) distancing, and including the balcony, our church seating capacity has been reduced to 160 people., which will definitely impact our weekend masses, where we would get anywhere from 325 to over 500 people attending a Saturday evening or Sunday morning mass.
If you are coming for a weekday mass, attendance will be by a “first come, first served” basis.
However, for all weekend masses, you must register online (or by phone, if you do not have a home computer) by using the link to Eventbrite that will be available on our parish website beginning on Monday, June 22nd at 9 am. see https://myparish.org/post/5eec28e765f492006062ab35
In the guidelines of the Worshipsafe document (written by a committee of experts in the fields of health, safety and liturgy in Ontario), only one entrance will be used for entrance to the church:
For weekday masses: the west side entrance facing the green field; opened 30 minutes before the start of mass;
For weekend masses, the east side (school side) entrance; opened 45 minutes before the start of mass.
To help the members of the Welcoming Ushers, for weekday masses, please come at least 10 minutes early, and for the weekend, 15 minutes early. It will be very hard for our welcoming ushers to seat people once the mass has started without causing a distraction for all those attending, including the priest.
What to do before you come for mass?
Before you come to mass, remember this: If you have been ill or have a fever, even if it is slight; or if you have the symptoms of a cold; or if you have been recently exposed to someone who has had COVID-19, you must stay at home. Please note that Cardinal Collins has removed the Sunday obligation to attend mass for the elderly, for the sick, and for anyone who is unable to attend due to capacity concerns.
The Archdiocese of Toronto, following the advice of the medical experts who helped craft the Worshipsafe document used for our church, is asking this of parishioner wishing to attend mass:
Please take your temperature before you leave to ensure you do not have a fever.
Please bring a mask or face covering with you to wear while attending mass. If you forget one, we will happily provide you with a mask to wear. This will help to ensure the health of all those attending – remember, we wish to provide a safe worship space for all. As I have said to you many times, “We are in this together” – including our health.
While the washrooms will remain open, we ask that they only be used for urgent use. Remember how when you were a little boy or girl and the family was going somewhere for a while, one of your parents would demand that you go to the bathroom? “But Mom, I don’t have to go!” “Go – this way you won’t have to go when you get there”. Mom was right. So go beforehand.
Please do not bring any juice boxes or food to the church. Water may be brought for medicinal purposes.
To help the members of the Welcoming Ushers, for weekday masses, please come at least 10 minutes early, and for the weekend, 15 minutes early. I am afraid the days of showing up at the last minute, or for that matter, after mass has started, are gone, at least during the pandemic.
To summarize, before you come to church, go to the washroom, wash your hands, take your temperature and bring your mask, and arrive early, not late. Hand sanitizer will be made available to you as you enter the Church.
The Archdiocese of Toronto has provided a helpful video describing your preparations for coming to church and how the mass will be different. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z-NirNbHVE
How will mass be different?
As mentioned before, for the Saturday evening or Sunday masses, you must register through Eventbrite in order to gain entrance to the church.
At all of the masses, when you come to the appropriate door, you will meet a member of the Welcoming team who will give instructions as you make your way into the church. In order to ensure an orderly seating of parishioners that will allow for the proper distancing, you will find green markings in the pews where you will be asked to sit. You will be directed to sit in a particular place – hence you will not be able to determine where you would like to sit as was in the past.
You will also notice that the holy water fonts placed inside the doors will remain empty.
For the weekend masses, there will be no offertory procession or collection. Your donations for the church can be given as you leave mass (at both weekend and weekday masses).
At the weekend masses, singing will be restricted just to the cantor – the rest of us will only speak, myself included. Based on the advice of the Province’s health experts, Cardinal Collins and the other Bishops of Ontario have decreed that you will be able to receive Holy Communion only on the hand. Reception of Holy Communion on the tongue will be prohibited until Cardinal Collins lifts that prohibition, following the advice of health experts. I will be providing other details of the reception of Holy Communion as the masses begin.
After mass is over, the church must be quickly emptied of parishioners in an orderly way to ensure the volunteer cleaning team members can then sanitize the church properly. Please note that as stipulated by Cardinal Collins, the church must be sanitized and cleaned after every mass or liturgical celebration.
How can I help?
You can most definitely help, trust me. We will need parishioners who will be willing to clean the church after each mass as well as volunteers who will welcome parishioners and seat them. To find out more about these positions, please see the website for the announcement Update - Volunteers Needed!
Our experience of church is going to be very different during this time of pandemic. The things we took for granted before will be different, such as our preparations for arriving, and having to wear a mask while in church. Together with all our volunteers, we will do our best to provide a safe and comfortable environment. I appeal for your patience and understanding as there undoubtedly will be a few glitches and adjustments to be made in our opening weeks, and as you get used to the new mass routine. Remember, we are in this together!!
Peace and prayers,
Fr. Michael Machacek.