Saint Francis de Sales- by Phil Konckyk and Bob Batastini
Like most churches, we have been streaming Sunday services in both English and Spanish via our parish website, facebook and YouTube Channel. As of this writing, we are preparing to begin public worship on a limited basis beginning May 31st. Of course, things will be far from normal. As part of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, our bishop and his team establish the guidelines for moving ahead. In our parish, we have a committee of parishioners organizing the procedures for our parish.
Our typical weekend attendance spread over four masses averages about 2,000, with two of the services approaching near capacity (800). The new plan will limit attendance to 125 per service, seated so as to retain social distancing between individuals and family groups. Parishioners will be required to wear masks, answer health screening questions and to sign-up to attend specific services.
The choir risers have been removed to provide additional room for the musicians to be able to also practice social distancing. The hymnals have been removed, and a disposable worship bulletin will be distributed for each service. The clergy and accompanying ministers will not enter by processing through the church as usual, but rather, will enter through a side door close to the altar platform. The surface with which worshippers have physical contact, will be sanitized before each mass. All in all, the primary concern is safety.
For the time being we will not sing multiple stanza strophic hymns but will limit congregational song to service music and short Taizé-like pieces. The spoken parts of the service will be as customary. The choir will not be reconvened until it is deemed safe to rehearse and sing in comparatively close quarters.