Directives and Guidelines for the Diocese of Youngstown
In light of the decision to resume the celebration of public Masses and liturgies by the Bishops of Ohio, the following Directives and Guidelines are issued for all parishes of the Diocese of Youngstown. These take into consideration how to best proceed under these unusual circumstances while remaining pastorally sensitive to the People of God and adhering to restrictions issued by the State of Ohio. The guidance provided aims to clarify how such spiritual care can be responsibly offered to the faithful during this period and have been formulated with great care to preserve and respect the powerful liturgical and sacramental symbolism of the rites of the Mass. These directives/guidelines currently remain in effect by order of Bishop Murry and will be revised or changed should any further directives be issued by the Governor of Ohio, the Bishops of Ohio, or Bishop Murry. They are considered to be temporary until it is determined safe to return to the normal circumstances.
DISPENSATION FROM THE OBLIGATION TO ATTEND SUNDAY MASS
The Catholic faithful who reside in the Diocese of Youngstown and especially those who are sick, or at high risk of becoming sick continue to be dispensed from their Sunday obligation until further notice.
- Understanding the desire of many to return to church, it remains important for those who are at greater risk to refrain from returning until such time they feel confident to do so.
- Those who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to another with the virus within 14 days should not attend Mass in accordance with national, state and local health directives.
- Appropriate cleaning of high use areas within the church is to be done before and after each service.
- Every effort to ensure appropriate physical distancing before, during, and after liturgical celebrations is required. Methods will vary depending on capacity and arrangement of church buildings. Parishes will decide how best to configure seating to maintain proper physical distance.
- No more than one family is permitted in the Cry Room at each Mass.
- No receptions or social gatherings (i.e. coffee/donuts) are to be held.
- While not mandatory, those attending Mass may wear masks or face coverings.
- Bulletins will be available for pick-up at each exit. Greeters and Ushers will not pass them out.
- All in attendance should wash or sanitize their hands before and after Mass being mindful not to touch their face, eyes, or nose.
- All should make every effort to continually model and encourage good hygienic practices.
- Holy water fonts are to remain empty until further notice.
- The practice of passing baskets throughout the assembly is temporarily suspended. Contribution baskets will be placed at all the entrances of the church for worshippers to drop their offering at the beginning of Mass or when leaving Mass.
- Physical contact during the Lord’s Prayer (holding hands) and the Sign of Peace is suspended. For the Sign of Peace those present are encouraged to make a slight bow or nod to others and offer words of peace.
- It is highly encouraged and strongly recommended that the reception of Holy Communion be given in the hand.
Distribution of Holy Communion on the Tongue
Out of pastoral necessity and urgency, those desiring to receive Holy Communion on the tongue are permitted to do so. In this instance, they are to be last in line and receive only from the priest. In the unfortunate circumstance that the priest’s fingers come in contact with the mouth of the communicant, he must immediately sanitize his fingers before continuing with the next in line.
- Reception of the Precious Blood from the chalice by the assembly is temporarily suspended.
- The location of stations for the distribution of Holy Communion should be considered to facilitate orderly movement and to maintain proper physical distance. One-way traffic patterns are encouraged.
- Appropriate spacing between individuals in the Communion Procession is to be maintained.
- Holy Communion is not to be distributed with gloves, nor may it be received in the hand with gloves.