Parish updates protocols for funerals in church during pandemic

Our church now is open for funerals, following the protocol listed below.

Because of regulations imposed by our diocese and governor, in order to have a funeral Mass or a funeral service in church, we must ALL follow the protocol recommended here:

  • Under current regulations, 125 people are allowed to attend the funeral Mass or service. Our liturgies will continue to remain private. The funeral Mass/service will be by invitation only in order to remain under 25 percent of our building capacity. No service information will be listed in the newspaper or online.
  • Everyone in the family and funeral staff must wear a mask while in church and bring hand sanitizer if you wish to receive the Eucharist.
  • Guidelines for the funeral mass or funeral service:
  • In order to secure diocesan and governmental guidelines for the number of people in our worship space and for the handling of any materials, ALL of the following recommendations will be part of our protocol:
  • Funeral home staff will bring to church the attendance sheet that we have provided that includes a list of names, addresses and phone numbers of all who come to church in the funeral procession from the funeral home. This list will be given to the parish attendant before the service begins when the funeral home staff arrives to set up flowers, etc. The parish attendant will remain at the Catherine Street entrance in order to get the names and information of others who arrive. This list is required by the governor/county health department in order to track attendees might be tracked in order to limit the potential spread of the virus. Please note that the center front door at Catherine Street will be the only point of entry. Other church doors, including Jay Street, will be closed.
  • Minimal funeral staff will bring the casket into church and place it in front of the altar where it usually is left during Mass before the services begin. Family will remain in their cars during this point.
  • The casket can arrive early if funeral staff have the ability to do so. The funeral staff will place the pall on the casket at this time using gloves.
  • There will not be an entrance procession into church with the casket and family. This will allow us to keep social distancing rules.
  • All members of the assembly are to sanitize their hands upon entering the church. Family will be escorted to their pews by one funeral staff person.
  • Family members who live together may sit in the same pew. Those not living with one another should sit every other pew and the space between individuals should be at least 6 feet.
  • One member of the funeral staff must remain in church during the Mass or funeral service. Other funeral home staff need not remain in church during the service in order to allow the maximum participation of family and friends.
  • You may have family members or friends proclaim the two readings and a eulogy, if they want. The eulogy will be read after the opening song. Eulogies are not to be lengthy because a longer service offers more opportunity for the potential spread of the virus. Eulogies can be delivered at the graveside or at the wake as well. There will not be an offertory procession with gifts if you choose to celebrate a funeral Mass, and there will not be an opportunity given to share the sign of peace .
  • Regulations regarding communion: (1) Before leaving your pew, please hand sanitize your hands. (2) Wear a mask when going to communion and stand in line 6 feet away from the person in front of you. (3) Once Father has given you the Eucharist in your hand, step aside 6 feet and lift the facemask with one hand and place the Eucharist in your mouth using your other hand. (4) Then put your mask on again and return to your place. (5) Keep your mask on for the rest of Mass and during the time you exit the church. (6) For people who do not feel safe receiving the Eucharist, you may refrain from doing so. Father will offer a prayer of Spiritual Communion that you will repeat so that you can feel that you have partaken in the Mass fully without receiving the Eucharist.
  • When the funeral Mass or funeral service has ended, the priest will escort the family down the aisle to the church doors. The funeral staff can meet the family outside and escort them to their cars. A member of the funeral home staff should then enter church to escort the other guests to exit toward the front door of the church respecting social distance protocol of 6 feet between individuals/families. The remaining funeral staff can meet guests outside and escort them to their cars. In the entire final exit from church, please regard rules for social distancing. Once in the vestibule, please sanitize your hands again.
  • Once family is in their cars, funeral staff will then enter the church to take off pall using gloves and bring casket out to the hearse. If there are pallbearers, they can wait outside the church and carry the casket to the hearse and to the final resting place.
  • As soon as possible, we will be live streaming funeral Masses or funeral services so that family and friends who are unable to attend may have the ability to participate.