June 8, 2020
Dear St. John Vianney Parishioners,
I hope that this letter finds you well.
We are pleased to let you know that we are able to resume public Masses utilizing 25% of the capacity inside our Church beginning this coming weekend, June 13 & 14. A group of Parish leaders have worked together to create a comprehensive plan, in accordance with State and Diocesan guidelines, that enable us to safely provide this opportunity. Below are the guidelines of what to expect, which should answer most of the questions that you may have about returning to Mass. We ask that you take a few minutes to read through this letter.
Weekend Masses will be celebrated:
On Saturdays at 4:00 PM & 6:00 PM
On Sundays at 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM & 12:00 Noon
Please note that we have changed the Saturday Mass time from 4:30 to 4:00 PM so that we can add an additional Mass on Saturday evening at 6:00 PM. We will add more Masses if we find that we need to do so. The 6:00 PM Mass is a temporary addition while our capacity is limited and the need for it remains. Our goal right now is to enable everyone who would like to come to Mass to be able to do so.
We have formed Parish Safety Teams for each Weekend Mass, consisting of parishioners who have offered their assistance. These members will guide and assist those attending each Mass.
While we are permitted to have 25% of our Church capacity available for Masses, this will reduce the number of people who can attend each Mass from what it had normally been. For that reason, anyone wishing to come to Weekend Mass while the Governor maintains this restriction will need to reserve a space for the Mass they wish to attend. This is a temporary adaptation that is necessary given the 25% capacity limit so that we do not have an overflow of people and end up needing to turn people away.
Sign-ups for weekend Masses will open each week on Monday at 9:00 AM for the coming weekend. To reserve a space for Mass, please call us at 716-508-7005. Should you receive our voicemail, please leave us a message with your name and the best contact number to reach you. We will get back to you in the order that your message was received as soon as we are able.
If Masses fill up for a weekend, you will be offered the opportunity to be added to the list for the next available weekend Mass. If, after making a reservation, you find that you are unable to attend, please call us at 716-508-7005 so we can enable someone else to take the place that you had reserved for Mass.
While Masses will be resuming, please note that until further notice, Catholics in the Diocese of Buffalo continue to be dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays, in particular for those who are most vulnerable and/or immunocompromised. Additionally, we ask that if you are sick, have a temperature, or any symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness that you remain home and do not attend Mass.
For those who are unable or not ready to return to Mass, we will continue to live-stream our 10:00 AM Sunday Mass and will also begin live-streaming the 4:00 PM Mass on Saturday, both can be found by visiting our website, saintjohnvianney.com or our public SJV Facebook Page.
Most of the changes noted below are mandated and temporary. The goal of these regulations is to meet the spiritual needs of all, maintain the integrity of the liturgy, and address the current needs of the wider community in the interest of health and safety.
Prior to coming to Mass at SJV, please note the following:
- Each person attending Mass over the age of two is required to wear a mask throughout Mass.
- We encourage you to bring your own supply of hand sanitizer for personal use.
- We will have hand sanitizer available in the entry ways of the Church.
- Please maintain proper social distancing from non-household members.
- There are to be no social gatherings before or after Mass, including congregating in the Church or in the parking lot.
- The ministries of Altar Servers, Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Greeters, Sacristans, Ushers, and the Choir will not be incorporated in the Mass to help reduce the number of people in possible points of contact. This is a temporary adjustment. We are grateful to all who look forward to resuming these ministries when it will be prudent to do so.
- There will be no congregational singing during Mass. Hymnals have been removed from the pews. If you desire, you may bring your own worship aids (copies of readings, prayers, etc.) to Mass.
- Everything that you bring into church must be taken with you after Mass, taking care to avoid leaving anything in the pews.
- The shrine areas of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, located in the church foyer, will temporarily be unavailable for candle lighting and personal prayer.
- Restrooms are limited to one person at a time; however, parents must accompany their child to the restroom.
- The crying room will not be available at this time.
- The weekly bulletin can be found on our parish website at saintjohnvianney.com. For those who do not have access to the internet, a limited number of printed bulletins will be available. You may ask a Parish Safety Team member to provide you with a copy.
- We ask that all who attend Mass arrive not earlier than twenty (20) minutes prior to the start of Mass, and no less than five (5) minutes before Mass begins, as this will allow us enough time to clean and sanitize the Church between Masses, and to get everyone seated before Mass begins.
- We may not be able to seat those arriving late for Mass.
- When arriving you will be greeted under the canopy by a member of our Parish Safety Team who will check you in for Mass and direct you to one of the three sets of doors at the main entrance of Church.
- Another member of the Parish Safety Team will then direct you to your seat.
- The driveway directly in front of the Church doors will not be accessible as a drop off point. However, for those who for whom walking is especially difficult, we will open it for you as needed.
- The entrances near the Gathering Room and Chapel will not be available for purposes of entry.
- There will be visual aids marked on the ground to facilitate social distancing.
- Once inside the foyer you will see a drop box in which you may place your offertory contribution should you wish. The offertory collection will not be taken up in the usual manner during Masses.
- Additional ways to support SJV include Online Giving, which can be accessed through our website at saintjohnvianney.com, by texting SJVOP to 555888 from your smartphone. Thank you so much for your continued support, we are so grateful!
- Everyone is asked to use the touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers located in the foyers upon entering and exiting the Church.
- There will be no processional, offertory, or recessional processions.
- The Sign of Peace will be omitted.
- For the distribution of the Eucharist the priest alone will distribute Communion wearing a mask.
- Each section of pews will be guided to come forward for Communion by a Parish Safety Team member, beginning with those in the last pew. Communion will proceed in a single file line.
- Floor markers will be used to assist in maintaining social distance.
- Those who are unable to come forward for Communion may remain in their pew. Please notify a member of the Parish Safety Team prior to Mass and the priest will bring Communion directly to you.
- Per the temporary directive of the Bishop, Communion may only be received in the hands. No contact will take place through this form of distribution. Regarding this guideline we recall the words of one of the Fathers of the Church, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386 AD) who said,
“Approaching, then, do not come with your hands extended or with your fingers open. But make a throne with your left hand for the right, as intending to receive the King, and having made a hollow in your hand, receive the body of Christ, after which you say ‘Amen.’”
- Masks will be worn until right after one receives the Eucharist in his/her hands from the priest. After receiving the Host, communicants should take two steps to the side, pick up the Host with their dominant hand (the hand that is underneath the one holding the Host), remove the mask with their free hand, and then place the Host in their mouth. After placing the Eucharist in their mouth, they should immediately place the mask back on. (This will be demonstrated at the beginning of every Mass.)
- Gloves are not permitted to be worn while receiving the Eucharist.
- The distribution of the Precious Blood will be omitted.
- To ensure the safe and proper exiting of all from Mass, after Communion everyone will return to their pew and remain in Church until after the final blessing and dismissal
- After the final blessing and closing hymn, everyone may be seated momentarily.
- Each pew will then be directed by a member of the Parish Safety Team when it is their turn to depart. This will help to maintain a safe and efficient flow of movement through the parking lot. All Church exits will be used for dismissal.
Parish Staff and Parish Safety Team members will be available to assist or answer any questions that you may have. We are incredibly grateful to you for your faith, support and patience through this transitional time.
Regarding other Masses and Sacraments:
- Weekday Masses will begin this Tuesday, June 9. They will resume at their usual Mass times - so Tuesday’s Mass will be at the usual time of 6:00 PM, Wednesday at 8:45 AM, Thursday at 8:00 AM, Friday at 8:00 AM, and next Monday at 8:00 AM. You do not need to reserve a space for these Masses. However, if the number of those arriving to attend exceeds our properly spaced capacity limit, we would only be able to accommodate those who have arrived prior to reaching that limit. The other guidelines listed above for weekend Masses also will apply for weekday Masses.
- Funerals and Memorial Masses may also be celebrated within the restrictions and guidelines listed above. Families may contact Emily at 608-6560 to discuss and plan a time for these special Masses.
- Baptisms may now be scheduled. They also will follow the guidelines above where applicable. To all parents, please feel free to contact Mary Beth at 608-6562 anytime.
- Confessions: I want to give everyone the opportunity to return to Confession before receiving the Holy Eucharist again. I will be hearing confessions this Thursday, June 11 from Noon-3:00 PM, and Saturday, June 13 from 1:00-3:00 PM under the canopy of the Church (or in the Church foyer if the weather is poor). I will be setting up new regular confession times which I will announce shortly.
- Many children in our Parish are awaiting the blessed day of their First Reconciliation or First Eucharist, and we have some young adults who have been prepared to receive Sacraments through the RCIA process. We will reach out to each family within the next two weeks regarding plans for these special occasions. We are so excited for you and will do our best to make the logistics of it all work for each family as we proceed.
Finally, I want to note that all other regular Parish meetings and activities will continue to be conducted remotely. Our Parish office is open, as it has been all along, but the office also is not yet open for in person activities. We will notify you when it is.
It is our desire to keep everyone informed as we continue in this process. To ensure that we have the most up-to-date contact information for your family you will find enclosed a short half-page information sheet that can be filled out and mailed back to St. John Vianney at 2950 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park, NY 14127, filled out online by clicking here (if you are reading this online), or dropped in the collection drop box when you come to Mass. Additional information will be relayed at appropriate times as we progress, we will keep you informed as best as we are able.
We offer great thanks to all of our Parishioners who have advised us during this process, offered to serve as Parish Safety Team members, and to our parish staff who have worked so diligently to help prepare for the reopening of Masses. Thanks also to each one of you for remaining close to God during this time, for supporting our community in so many ways, and remaining as a spiritual family united in prayer. We have striven to serve you throughout these past months and are very excited to begin to come together once again before our Lord, who is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
Our Parish, like all parishes, is a place where we come together in different ways to support one another, share one another’s joys and sorrows, build one another up in the faith, and grow together as a spiritual family so that each person may grow closer to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Be assured of my daily prayers for each of you!
Sincerely in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Fr. Mark Noonan