SHAMOKIN — Masses will resume at local Catholic churches this weekend with heavy restrictions being in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All Roman Catholic churches and Ukrainian Catholic churches in the local area will celebrate public Masses on Saturday and Sunday for the first time since the middle of March.
The following is a list of Mass times at local churches:
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church, Elysburg — 4 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. Sunday; 10:30 a.m. Sunday outdoor Mass in the main parking lot; 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
Holy Angels Church, Kulpmont — 5:30 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday; 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Mother Cabrini Church, Shamokin — 4 p.m. Saturday; 7, 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday; 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Mount Carmel — 4 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday; 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Transfiguration Ukrainian Catholic Church, Shamokin — 6 p.m. Saturday; 9:30 a.m. Sunday; 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Patronage of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church, Marion Heights — 8 a.m. Sunday.
SS Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, Mount Carmel — 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Centralia — 10 a.m. Sunday.
Divine Redeemer Church, Mount Carmel — 4 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. Sunday; 8 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Our Lady of Hope Church, Coal Township — 4 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m. Sunday.
St. Patrick Church, Trevorton — 9 a.m. Sunday.
Numerous restrictions will be in place to prevent the spread of the virus including social distancing, mask wearing, hand sanitizers and attendance restrictions.
Churches will open either 15 minutes or 30 minutes before Masses and will be locked between Masses.
Ushers will be assigned to aid with seating and in most cases, there will be no altar servers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion or choir.
The Diocese of Harrisburg announced last week that churches in Northumberland, Montour, Snyder and Union counties that transitioned to the “yellow” phase May 8 may hold public Masses this weekend.
The Diocese of Harrisburg developed new guidelines for parishes in the “yellow” stage after reviewing directives from the Governor’s Office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as studies provided through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The diocese will review and amend the directives as the situation continues to develop.
The full guidelines for parishes in “yellow” counties are available on the diocesan website at www.hbgdiocese.org/coronavirus.
According to the diocese, the one-week delay in reopening churches in the “yellow” stage was given to allow parishes necessary time to implement the guidelines and provide time for parishes to communicate the changes to parishioners.
While these are general guidelines provided by the diocese, individual pastors may choose to continue some restrictions if the health and safety of their parishioners are still in question.
Bishop Ronald Gainer requested parishioners to not cross counties when churches begin to reopen to ensure parishioners have primary access to their own parish churches and to respect the government’s stay-at-home order.
Highlights of the guidelines include:
• The dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass is still in place. All Mass livestreams are to continue.
• Public Masses may resume at the pastor’s discretion, so long as social distancing and proper sanitation is observed. Sanitation must take place after every Mass. Parish buildings may contain no more than 1/3 occupancy at any given time.
• Please contact your parish directly for more information on any changes to Mass schedules. Public Masses may also take place in church halls, outdoors and in church parking lots.
• All parishioners attending Mass must wear a face mask. Masks may only be removed when receiving Holy Communion.
• Holy Communion will be distributed after Mass. It is recommended that Holy Communion be received on the hand.
• Confessions may resume at the pastor’s discretion, pending social distancing and proper sanitation are followed. Creative means of confessions, including using outdoor spaces, are encouraged.
• Weddings, funerals, and baptisms may resume, so long as occupancy and all protective measures are followed.
• Adoration chapels may be opened with limited hours, occupancy and strict sanitization after each visitor.
• Parishes are to use tape or rope to indicate proper social distancing within the parish buildings, including the pews.
• Proper sanitation will occur after every gathering and at the close of every day.
• Holy water fonts will remain empty. Bottled holy water may be available for parishioners to take home.
• All hymnals, missals, missalettes and Bibles will be removed. Printed worship aids may be provided for all public liturgies. These worship aids will be disposed by the user when leaving the church. Projection devices may also be used.
• The sign of peace will continue to be omitted.
• Limited public entrances may be opened.
A change for parishioners will be the distribution of Holy Communion after Mass. This will ensure proper social distancing, sanitary conditions and leaves space for those not comfortable receiving Holy Communion at this time.
Below are the procedures parishes are asked to follow:
• After the priest’s reception of Holy Communion (and that of the other clergy present), the priest places the vessel with the consecrated hosts for distribution into the tabernacle. Mass then continues and is concluded.
• After the dismissal or after the final hymn, a small table with hand sanitizer is set up at the location for distribution of Holy Communion.
• The assembly forms a line to receive Holy Communion, keeping six feet apart.
• The priest will begin the distribution of Holy Communion with, “Behold, the Lamb of God . . .” The people make the response, “Lord, I am not worthy.”
• Each communicant approaches to receive Holy Communion, lowering their mask when they are next to receive.
• The priest or whoever is distributing should purify and sanitize his hands as often as he thinks is necessary. This is not necessary after each person. It is necessary if contact has been suspected or if a communicant requests it.
Following the directives of the state government, those who are sick or those who have health conditions that make them more susceptible to illness, should continue to remain at home at this time.
The Diocese of Harrisburg will continue to update its guidelines regarding public Mass and the sacraments. The most up-to-date information can be found at www.hbgdiocese.org/coronavirus.