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COVID-19

June 15, 2021

Interim Guidance for Parishes 

It is wonderful news that 70% of New York adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. While this does not signal the end of the pandemic or the vigilance, care, and pastoral concern that we must continue to show for one another as Church, it does indicate that we are making significant progress as a community in mitigating this public health crisis and its effects. Parishes should continue to encourage individuals to follow all local, state, and federal guidance as it is updated/issued.

Vaccinations
Participation at in-person Masses and other parish events should not be contingent on vaccination status, nor should individuals be questioned regarding their vaccination status or asked to produce a vaccine card.

Capacity
At the discretion of parish leadership, reservations, pew restrictions, and other measures to limit capacity may be relaxed. However, individuals from different households should still be encouraged to maintain reasonable separation.

Masks
Based on prevailing guidance from health officials or an individual’s doctor or other medical professional, masks are now optional, but may continue to be worn at the discretion of the individual. Out of pastoral concern, the safety of others should always be considered when making this choice. Ministers of the Eucharist are encouraged to continue to wear masks when distributing Communion for the protection of the vulnerable and those who may not be able to be vaccinated.

Dispensation & Livestream
As of June 6, 2021, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass has been lifted and all practicing Catholics should be invited to resume regular, in-person worship. To support this effort, it is suggested that live-streaming of regularly scheduled Masses be limited to one Mass per language offered per week. (Weddings, funerals, and other celebrations may still be offered to include family members who may not yet be ready to travel.)

Holy Water Fonts & Shared Materials
Based on current guidance from New York State (June 9, 2021), baptismal fonts and holy water stoups should remain empty; hymnals and shared, reusable texts should still be absent from pews.

Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection
After each liturgy, worship spaces should continue to be disinfected, especially high-risk areas or frequently touched surfaces.

Singing
New York State’s recent guidance says, in part, “…Any singing activity must provide for a distance between individuals of at least twelve feet, subject to additional protective measures…” This guidance remains unchanged, and thus we cannot relax any prior guidelines regarding full choirs. Congregational singing should still be discouraged, but those who choose to sing should wear a mask to increase safety and reduce the potential exposure to others. Choirs may wish to safely rehearse/recruit over the summer with the hope that by the fall, based on progress and prudent judgment at that time, they may be able to return in full.

As of June 15, masks are now optional, but may continue to be worn at the discretion of the individual. Out of pastoral concern, the safety of others should always be considered when making this choice. Ministers of the Eucharist are encouraged to continue to wear masks when distributing Communion for the protection of the vulnerable and those who may not be able to be vaccinated.

Parishes may continue to livestream their Masses to help nourish the souls of Catholics who cannot be present for Mass. It is suggested, however, that regular scheduled Masses to be limited to one Mass per language a week.  

The general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation expired on June 6, 2021

No. Anyone who is frail or at risk due to advanced age or medical conditions is always excused from this obligation, and we encouraged you to use your prudential judgement throughout this pandemic to determine if it was unsafe for you to attend Mass. However, for those who are health and not at great risk, the presumption of the faithful should be that, unless they are at an enhanced risk, sick, or caring for others who are at risk or sick, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass now resumes.

At the discretion of parish leadership, reservations, pew restrictions, and other measures to limit capacity may be relaxed. However, individuals from different households should still be encouraged to maintain reasonable separation.

May 22, 2021

Announcement Regarding Mass Obligation

U.S. Bishop Chairmen for Doctrine and for Pro-Life Address the Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines.

Livestream Mass

If you are uncomfortable attending Mass, use one of many parish livestreams available across the Diocese.