In some ways the title of this letter almost says it all. It’s now been around eight months since we began resuming in person Masses after the initial “COVID shutdown.” For those who have resumed attending Mass in person, that means eight months of hand sanitizer at the entrances. Eight months of wearing masks. Eight months of strange Communion lines, tape marking the floors, ropes blocking off every other pew, sanitizing pews after Mass, and all of the other procedures that have been put in place to try to attempt to keep people as safe as possible while still allowing the Mass to be celebrated with a congregation present.
And after eight months of all of this... we’re tired. The routine is getting to us. I can see it. And others are starting to see it as well (as I am getting emails, phone calls, etc. about these things). Whether due to accidental inattentiveness or conscious choice, there has been a “slipping” of the practice of our safety measures in recent weeks here in the parish. More and more I have seen people entering the church and not using the hand sanitizer stations. Mask wearing habits have gotten slack as well, with some people not even attempting to cover their nose and, occasionally, people even removing their masks entirely while in the pew during Mass. Social distancing in the Communion line has been increasingly spotty and at some Masses the Communion line is looking a lot more like it did during pre-COVID times than it ought to look under our current policies.
And while many of the COVID “indicators” here in Connecticut have been getting better over the last few weeks, the recent detection of the more highly contagious “British variant” of the virus here in our state is a worrisome development that has the real potential to undo a lot of the progress we have made.
So I would like to make a personal appeal to everyone in the parish to please do your best to “refocus” on our safety precautions when you come to Mass. Please use hand sanitizer when entering, either from our stations or from your own supply. Please be attentive to wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth the entire time you are inside. Please be aware of distancing in the Communion line, and indeed everywhere in our churches, including the vestibules, areas around our side altars when lighting candles, the area around the tomb of Fr. McGivney, and so forth. Even if you think these measures are overkill or entirely unnecessary, I am asking you... as your Pastor... to please follow them anyways. Consider it an act of solidarity with the most vulnerable among us. We have many elderly in our parish. We have younger individuals who are immunosuppressed. We have individuals who are the sole caretakers of homebound sick or elderly relatives. May-be years from now history will look back on all the measures put in place by the archdiocese and render the judgment that many of them were minimally helpful or even entirely unnecessary. Even if that ends up being the case, I’d still like to think we did the right thing by erring on the side of caution during a period of time when a new and strange pandemic was raging bringing about uncertainty even among “the experts.”
So please, for the time being, I ask everyone to please be attentive. Thank you.
Fr. John Paul