Reopening of Masses with a Congregation-  Essential Guidelines & Resources

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Reopening of Masses with a Congregation- Essential Guidelines & Resources

After extensive consultation with civic authorities, many of our Catholic Churches have decided to reopen to ‘new beginnings’ in a phased-in approach. 

Phase one brings smaller groups of healthy Catholics back to a limited Mass with strict social distancing guidelines and rules. Phase two would allow larger groups while phase three would allow choirs to return to church and social gatherings to resume. At this point, it is unknown when we might be able to enter phases two and three. Phasing the return allows for the ability to re-evaluate the process as necessary in order to ensure the health and safety of the community going forward.

For now, only 50 people can attend a single mass and the number of masses have been reduced to two on Sundays. You must make a reservation to attend and those reservations are ‘sold out’ through the end of the month.

Livestreaming church mass is still a preferred option. 

Many dioceses are issuing statements to parishes and parishioners preparing them on how to protect themselves and letting them know what is expected of them. 

Reach out to your communities via emails or announcements through your website and social media channels. If you need assistance, reach out to our team at GiveCentral to help you plan your communications during this time. 

Sample Guidelines to add to your communications

You can customize these guidelines for your website or emails to include other directives as determined by the individual Diocesan Bishops. Establish the following common practices in the celebration of Mass to fulfill the requirements of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before Mass
  • Those who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to another with the virus within 14 days are not permitted to enter the church, in accordance with national, state and local health directives. All attendees are asked to check their temperature at home before coming to church.
  • Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issue or who are 60 or older are strongly encouraged, for their own health, to avoid the risk of attending public celebrations of the Mass.
  • We highly encourage parishes to live stream Mass, even on a daily basis, so that those unable to attend in person may maintain a spiritual connection with their local church. 
  • Appropriate cleaning of high use areas within the church is to be done before and after each service.
  1. The pews utilized by the assembly shall be wiped down with disinfectant.
  2. All hymnals and missalettes are to be removed from the pews and stored for the duration of the pandemic. No other materials may be left in the pews. The faithful are encouraged to bring their own missals or hymnals or smartphones for use during the celebration of Mass.
  3. Restroom facilities and door handles, push plates, and knobs are to be sanitized after each service.
  • Holy water fonts are to remain empty until further notice.
  • Hand sanitizer is to be made available throughout the church, whenever possible.
  • The faithful are obliged to wear a mask upon entering the church and during the celebration of Mass, except when remaining in the pew and for the brief moment of receiving Holy Communion. Ushers and other volunteers are to wear masks and gloves (when gloves are not available, frequent handwashing will be necessary) throughout the celebration of Mass. Pastors are to see to it that these obligations are enforced without exception. Those at the altar are to wear a mask if distributing Holy Communion.
  • Clergy and other ministers are to maintain six-foot distancing and should not greet parishioners as they enter the church.
During Mass
  • Entry and exit doors are to be adequately designated and monitored. Entry doors are to be propped or held open before Mass, and exit doors are to be propped or held open at the end of Mass to prevent people from touching the door handles, knobs or push plates.
  • Staff, ushers or other volunteers should assist with directing people to pews specifically marked. Attendance may be limited to assure compliance with social distancing requirements.
  • Families are to maintain six-foot distancing between their family and other families or individuals throughout the celebration of Mass.
  • Seating is to be arranged such that six feet of distance can be maintained between members of one household and members of another.
  • One or two pews are to be left vacant in between congregants such that six feet of distance can be maintained in all directions.
  • Music ministers are to maintain six-foot social distancing.
  • Procession of the Gifts is suspended. Collection baskets (or any other materials) are not to be passed from one family to another, nor shall ushers take up the collection from the congregation. Stationary baskets are to be used for donations from the assembly and are to be monitored by the ushers until the donations are collected and handled according to the proper protocols in place for handling the collection.
  • Those who wish to donate online can follow the link (add your link) or via mobile by sending a text message to (add you number here.)
  • The sign of peace is optional. If it is offered, there is to be no physical contact. A simple gesture, such as a nod of the head, is recommended.
  • All concelebrating clergy are to receive Holy Communion by intinction, utilizing a separate chalice from the main celebrant and with the last priest communicant consuming all that remains in the Chalice.
  • Priests or deacons who are in at-risk groups are permitted to refrain from distributing Holy Communion and are able to delegate distribution to other Communion ministers.
  • For the distribution of communion, ushers or other volunteers who are masked and gloved will ensure six-foot distancing in the communion line. Floor markings shall be placed six feet apart in the aisles in which the congregation approaches the sanctuary for communion to facilitate proper social distancing.
  • Communion ministers must be masked, sanitize their hands immediately before and after distributing Communion, and when at all possible, to utilize a disinfectant wipe or purificator dipped in a sanitizing solution (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) to sanitize their fingers when incidental contact is made with the communicant.
  • Distribution of Holy Communion from the chalice is prohibited to the assembly and vested deacons. For those who are gluten intolerant, special arrangements are to be made with the pastor.
  • Maintaining a single-file is necessary for the distribution of Holy Communion for each Communion minister and communicant to maintain social distancing. Multiple Communion ministers may be used as long as one-way traffic patterns are observed.
  • During this time, Holy Communion will be distributed in the hand* in keeping with the advice of state health officials and thereby to avoid the Communion minister’s fingers coming into contact with saliva or airborne contagion. 
  • Those who refrain from receiving communion still unite themselves with the sacrifice of Christ. Non-communicants are kindly asked to remain in their places rather than process to request a blessing—a blessing all receive at the end of Mass.
  • When approaching the Communion minister, the communicant is to pull their mask below their chin in order to receive Communion. The communicant immediately replaces their mask after consuming the Host.
After Mass
  • Family units should depart the church in an organized manner wearing masks and observing six feet of distance between other households. Ushers or clergy may need to direct this process.
  • Ushers are not to hand out bulletins or other materials.
  • Clergy and other ministers are not to greet parishioners as they exit the church.
  • There are to be no receptions or social gatherings (e.g., coffee and doughnuts) following Mass.
  • Pews and other high traffic areas of the church are to be wiped down before the next service, with the removal of trash and other items from the pews.

We have an excellent communication toolkit for social media with sample content and emails templates available at your dashboard. Please make use of them. 

If you have any questions about livestreaming a mass click to connect with our support team here. 

Further, our resource page is a good source of information and helpful resources for fundraising during Coronavirus. 


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