Reopening letter: Important information you need to know

The following is a message from Father Jim dealing with our parish reopening the weekend of July 4 and 5. It also has been sent to all parishioners via mail:
After several months of being isolated by COVID-19, we now are allowed to resume church services at reduced capacity. That’s about 125 people per Mass.
Many preparations have been underway and numerous protocols needed to be implemented before we could reopen. Things will be much different from what we are accustomed to, but all this is being done for the health and safety of everyone.
With that in mind, I am pleased to inform you that we will reopen our parish starting the weekend of July 4 and 5. It will be a limited reopening, but a reopening nonetheless. Our liturgies will remain at the same times: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 4; and 8 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday, July 5.
For those who can’t attend or still are reluctant because of the continuing pandemic, Bishop Douglas Lucia has continued to suspend the obligation to attend weekend liturgy. The fact is COVID-19 remains among us, there is a risk of an increase in cases, and we do not want to risk the health of others. Similarly, if you have been sick recently, please stay home – do not put yourself or anyone else at risk.
For those who wish to attend Mass, let me go over the protocols that we have in place:

Mass reservations

You need to make reservations as to which liturgy you wish to attend that will include your name, address and phone number and number of people attending. This is part of the contact tracing that we are required to perform. Should someone in attendance subsequently get diagnosed with COVID-19, we will be able to inform you of the potential exposure.
Reservations will be accepted via a link on our website from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the THURSDAY before the weekend you wish to attend. Or you may call the rectory at 315-735-1482 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. No reservation will be taken any other day.
Registering online is easy:
  • Visit our website at
  • At the top right you’ll see “REGISTER FOR MASS.” Click on the “SignUp” logo.
  • A new tab or window will pop up. Under “Mount Carmel,” click on “Mass Registration.”
  • Now, click in the “Sign Up” box for the Mass you want to attend.
  • Click “Submit and Sign Up.”
  •  In the “Sign me up for” box, under “Quantity” click in the total number of people attending Mass.
  • Fill in the rest of the information requested and click “Sign Up Now.”
  • (Your also can click on the big photo on the page home page that says “Register for Mass Here.” There are easy instructions to follow.)
Should you or someone in your party be diagnosed with COVID-19 within two to three weeks after the liturgy you attended, please have someone inform us immediately so that we can inform the others who were at that liturgy. We will not divulge your name to the others in attendance; we would simply inform them that they were potentially exposed to the virus. For the sake of full disclosure, please be advised that we also are required to report potential exposures to local health officials and the Diocese of Syracuse.

Arrival procedures

  • When you arrive at church, please use the front doors on Catherine Street while maintaining the required 6-feet social distancing.
  • Signs will be posted on the doors and volunteers will guide you. The Jay Street entrance will be locked.
  • The wearing of masks is REQUIRED during the entire time you are in church.
  • Once you enter, please sanitize your hands, and then you stop at the registration table where you will have your temperature taken and check in.
  • You will then be pointed toward the ushers who will seat you with social distancing and capacity limitations in effect. We will only have certain pews in use and we will fill them from front to back. Since this will require time, we ask that you please come at least 15 minutes before the beginning of Mass. But please note that the doors of church will not open until 30 minutes before each Mass. We also ask that you do not ask for an alternative pew. Please sit in the pew we place you in.
  • We have been advised to keep our liturgies to less than an hour. Other short-term changes will be implemented. These include no hymnals, prayer cards or missalettes, no entrance or recessional processions, no bringing the gifts to the altar and no collection during Mass. There will be baskets as you leave church for you to place your envelopes and donations.

Distribution of communion

Distribution of Communion will be very different. As it would be cumbersome (and time consuming) to have people process up the aisle while maintaining social distancing, we instead will come to you right in the pew. With empty pews between you and the next party, there is plenty of room to make this happen.
  • At communion time, we ask that you sanitize your hands before we get to you (please bring your own sanitizer).
  • All people MUST receive communion in the hand. The risk of germ transmission runs much higher with placing the host on your tongue.
  • When receiving communion, stand, keep your mask on and hold still. Once the Eucharistic minister has passed, sit down, then lower your mask, place the host in your mouth, and then immediately put your mask on.

Rest room

Please be advised that while the restroom in the back of church will be available, we ask if at all possible, please try not to use the rest rooms to limit germ spread.

Exiting the church

As we also will need to maintain social distancing while we exit, you will be dismissed by section, starting with those in the back of the church. I know this can feel tedious, but again, it is for your safety that we dismiss in the way to have you not walk past so many people. Please follow the ushers’ instructions.
When you leave, we ask that you please not congregate outside to visit. I know this can be difficult — many of you have not seen each other in a while. But we do need to clear the property as soon as possible to prepare for the next liturgy (including a complete sanitizing of the entire church).
I know this will be a major change and one we must adhere to, but we need to remember the purpose of the protocols — the safety of others and ourselves. While the risk cannot be reduced to zero, following these instructions will help reduce the possibility of spread of the disease. These are times when it is wise to err on the side of caution. I feel that this is one of those times.
We hope to see you soon – and if not, I completely understand. Either way, please stay safe.
God Bless!