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COVID-19

The COVID-19 website page has been created to provide the latest updates for parishes and schools regarding notices, preventative measures and closings, as necessary.  We are closely monitoring the situation and following the expertise of the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education as well as the Center of Disease Control (CDC) in order to ensure the health and well-being of our community.  Please visit for the latest updates.

Sunday Mass Obligation Re-established

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Next weekend, you and I will celebrate the 4th of July and offer praise and thanksgiving to God for the blessings of freedom that we have as citizens of this great nation: freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petition among many, but most especially for us Catholics, the freedom of religion which guarantees our right to proclaim and practice our faith in our families and communities.

Celebrating this particular national freedom, as well as the personal freedom of belief given to each human being by God, I announce the return of the “Sunday obligation” beginning next week, namely that each Catholic who has reached the age of reason is once again obligated to attend Sunday Mass.  It may seem rather odd for me to talk about “freedom” while re-establishing an obligation.  That is certainly true if you and I see the obligation as something that is imposed on us rather than as something we take on.  As Catholics, you and I are followers of Christ who are bearers of the greatmandatum or “commandment” which he gave his disciples at the Last Supper “to do this in memory of me.” From the very beginning, the early Church would gather on the first day of the week to carry out that mandatum to celebrate the Eucharist.  This was not something a Christian could choose to not do.  It was the very heart of who they were and who we are. It was an obligation they took on out of love for Christ and His Church.  It was something they desired and wanted, not something onerous and burdensome.

My hope is that all of us who are Catholics see participation in the Sunday Mass as something we want to do, not something we have to do. It is a sacred obligation we choose in freedom. We should make every effort to attend Sunday Mass.  However, as has been the case from the very beginning of the Church as well, there are times and circumstances when one cannot be present for Sunday Mass: injury, ill-health, mobility issues, age, and now personal safety issues that are still present due to Covid 19.  Children who have not been vaccinated, people whose health is compromised so that they have to avoid any risk of contagion as well as their caregivers, may in freedom choose not to attend Sunday Mass.  Most parishes which are doing so now will still live-stream Sunday Mass for those who cannot attend. I also urge them to ask for Holy Communion to be brought to them outside of Mass.  Simply call your local parish and ask.

Please share this information with your family and friends who may not have received the message. Let us rejoice that together we can safely celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, the Sacrament of the sacrifice and the Holy Communion of Christ.  May God bless you and your families as you spread the Good News wherever you go that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

 

Most Reverend Christopher J. Coyne
Bishop of Burlington

 

Download Protocols: Resuming Public Celebration of the Liturgy Phase 5

or view by topic below.

 
I. General Guidelines for All Liturgies

This section provides general protocols and recommendations for all liturgies.

Phase III Protocols published on April 27, 2021.

A. CAPACITY

Churches may return to full capacity with no need for physical distancing.

B. MUSICIANS

Choirs and other music groups may resume at the discretion of the pastor and music directors.

C. PROTOCOLS FOR ATTENDING MASS

Bishop Coyne will soon issue directives and guidance for the re-establishment of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.  All clergy are invited to attend a zoom meeting this Tuesday, June 22, at 10:00 AM.  Details for attending were sent out in a previous email.

D. MASKS

Masks are no longer mandatory; however, parishes are still encouraged to have a supply of masks available at the entrances should a parishioner desire to use one. The use of masks is at the discretion of each individual persons. Those who minister at Mass are not to be refused the opportunity to minister solely based on their decision to wear or not wear a mask.

E. HAND SANITIZER

Hand sanitizer should be placed at each entrance and in the sanctuary. At the entrances, a sign should be posted alerting people to the availability of hand sanitizer and encouraging its use.

F. SANITATION & CIRCULATION
  1. Communion vessels — patens, chalices, ciboria are purified as usual during or after Mass; then they MUST be washed with a mild dish soap and hot water AFTER EACH USE, even if this requires transporting the vessels to the rectory or another location with hot water.
  2. During the celebration of liturgy, windows and doors should remain open when possible to increase air circulation.
II. During the Mass

This section provides protocols and recommendations to implement during Mass.

A. PROCESSION

Processions may take place as usual and in the customary format.

B. MINISTERS

All ministers may resume their liturgical duties.

C. ALTAR & GIFTS

The Preparation of the Altar and Gifts (the Offertory) may take place as usual: setting the vessels on the altar and preparing them, the procession from the assembly with the gifts of bread and wine, the collection, etc.

D. SIGN OF PEACE

Physical contact during the Sign of Peace is discouraged between people of different households. Parishes are encouraged to put the following (or similar) notice in the bulletin: “As we move past the pandemic, please be aware that some people may still choose to greet you at the Sign of Peace simply with a nod of the head or a smile.”

E. DISTRIBUTION OF HOLY COMMUNION

Communion of the faithful will be under the species of bread alone.