UPDATED: Wednesday, May 19, 2021 10:30 a.m.
With the removal of the dispensation granted at the beginning of the pandemic, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days will be reinstated by Archbishop Aquila effective Saturday, May 22, the Vigil of the Solemnity of Pentecost. There are, however, reasonable, prudent, and serious concerns that would preclude Catholics from attending Mass in person. For example, in this time of pandemic, such serious reasons would include:
- Anyone who is sick, symptomatic, or has been recently exposed to the coronavirus. Protecting the health of others is an act of Christian charity and our moral duty to one another.
- Anyone with significant health risk factors that requires them to avoid public spaces, or if you care for someone with significant risk factors.
- Anyone who cannot attend Mass through no fault of their own, for example, if a parish has reached capacity.
For more information about the removal of the dispensation, visit https://archden.org/return/. **
With the lifting of pandemic restrictions for fully vaccinated persons in the City and County of Denver, our parish pandemic protocols for celebrating the Eucharist are changing. Remember: those who are not fully vaccinated are still asked to social distance and wear masks in public.
The parish pastoral council has asked that our new protocols be rooted in the same principles that have governed our pandemic behavior from the start. They are: the Word of God; the teachings of the church; and science. The Word of God teaches us to “bow to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). The church teaches that legitimate civil authority is responsible for the common good of society, not the church. Science teaches us that the pandemic is not over yet, but that fully vaccinated persons may begin to re-engage their public lives. The following protocols will govern our returning to the celebration of the Eucharist:
1) Patience, respect, and care
We are all children of one heavenly Father and brothers and sisters in Christ and the church. Ours is a respect life church, meaning, we respect all life and each other’s lives. Not everyone is in the same place when it comes to each’s health and well-being. Some may be more vulnerable to the virus’ transmission, others more hesitant about being vaccinated, etc. Above all, therefore, put on charity; before all else be patient. Patience is the virtue by which one
puts himself in another person’s world before demanding that the other put him/herself in theirs. Be respectful. Respect, from the Latin, res spectare, is beholding the truth, the truth of the other. And care, care for one
another. St. Bernard of Clairvaux taught that the command of Christ is not to cure all but to care for all.
We presume that everyone who comes to the Eucharist and approaches Jesus’ altar is being honest with him/herself, and therefore with others, regarding his/her health and vaccination status. (The sick, in any case, should not be venturing out in public, especially coming to church, where persons are in close proximity to one another for approximately an hour’s time.) Persons not fully vaccinated are asked to show patience, respect, and care for those who are by occupying a special section in the church (see #4). Fully vaccinated persons should not shame or call to task persons who have not been fully vaccinated and/or are still wearing masks. Nor should one presume that if someone is
wearing a mask, he/she has not been fully vaccinated.
3) Sign-ups and capacity limits
Effective May 22-23, 2021, Notre Dame Parish is discontinuing signing up for Sunday Mass and lifting capacity limits in the church. No longer will I ask parishioners to sign up with Flocknote or call the parish office. We encourage all to resume their spiritual habit of celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday and holy days of obligation.
4) Social distancing
Assuming that a majority of parishioners have been fully vaccinated, we will discontinue seating restrictions in the central sections of the church. However, because adults who are not fully vaccinated are still asked to social distance and because others may still prefer to maintain six feet of physical distancing, we will reserve the church’s north and south side sections for them.
We encourage fully vaccinated Mass-goers to wear masks in church but will not require them to do so. We ask those seated in the side sections to still wear masks. However, no one will police the wearing or not wearing of masks.
Presuming that at every celebration of the Eucharist there will be both persons who are and are not fully vaccinated, we ask that as you approach the altar for holy Communion you continue to social distance, maintaining at least six feet of distance between yourself and the person in front of you. For those fully vaccinated we will resume the distribution of the sacred Body of Jesus either in the hand (preferred) or on one’s tongue (acceptable).
Finally, we will soon get to work on rebuilding the liturgical ministries, including greeters, servers, lectors,
extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, etc.
We have been through a difficult time. Hopefully we have grown in faith, hope, and love during these pandemic months. Let us now rise, not to old ways of living but, having learned the lessons this pandemic has tried to teach us, resurrect to new life. Let us commemorate, celebrate, and continue on, inspired by Jesus’ Holy Spirit, who declares all truth to us.
For more information about how Notre Dame is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and creating a safe environment to return to worship, prayer, and service in a responsible manner, feel free to call the Parish Offices at (303) 935-3900.
To learn more about what the Archdiocese of Denver and the State of Colorado have mandated, required, and recommended, visit the following:
State of Colorado COVID-19 DIAL – As of May 19, 2021, the City and County of Denver was in “Level Blue: Caution.” For more information about policies, requirements, and allowances, visit the State’s website (linked above), scroll down to the DIAL table, and take note of the column marked “Level Blue.”