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REINSTATING THE OBLIGATION TO ATTEND SUNDAY MASS

“We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 in as individuals and families. It has been a time of acute hardship and struggle, of separation and isolation. It has also had an impact on our lives of faith. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has been with us throughout this challenging period and is most especially near to us when we encounter him in the Eucharist. The Eucharist offers us His healing and peace, His mercy and reconciliation. It is now time for everyone to return to the Eucharist with renewed faith and joy.

As many aspects of life are now returning to normalcy, each Catholic Bishop in Pennsylvania will reinstate the obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays and Holy Days beginning on Sunday, August 15, 2021, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Bishops previously jointly decided to dispense the faithful from this obligation in March of 2020 in order to provide for the common good given concerns over the developing pandemic. Now, with the impact of the pandemic considerably reduced, it is again possible for the faithful to assemble for the Eucharist. It is time to lift the dispensation from the obligation.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days comes from our Baptism as Christians. Baptism compels Christians to unite themselves with Christ at the altar in his saving Sacrifice of the Cross. Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2182). This is the foundation for the law of the Church that binds Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days (Code of Canon Law, canon 1247) and the Christian way fully to observe the Third Commandment, to keep holy the Lord’s Day (Deuteronomy 5: 12; Exodus 31: 15; Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2180-2181).

This obligation, as is always the case, does not apply to those who are seriously ill, have a serious health risk, as well as those who have serious anxiety about being a part of large groups at this time. Likewise, the obligation does not apply to those who care for those who cannot attend Mass in person (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2181). Those who are legitimately excused from Mass on Sundays and Holy Days are encouraged to spend time in prayer, meditating on the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, reading the Sacred Scriptures, and uniting themselves to Christ in his worship of the Father of us all. Those who are legitimately excused are also encouraged to view a broadcast of the Mass which is intended for those who cannot participate in person.

As Bishops, we welcome this moment of the reinstatement of the obligation for all Catholics in Pennsylvania. This is a moment to thank God anew for the great gift of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus to us in his Holy Body and Blood as well as the joy of gathering together as people of faith.”

Most Reverend Nelson Pérez

Archbishop of Philadelphia


DIRECTIONS FOR CELEBRATION OF SACRED LITURGY AFTER 31 MAY 2021

Given Directives from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in Light of the Recent Center for Disease Control Guidelines and Governmental Guidance, the following should be observe at Masses at St. Margaret of Antioch Church, Narberth 

Masks – As of May 13, those who are fully vaccinated need not wear a mask in Church, but may continue to wear a mask, if they so desire.  Those who ae not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask in Church.   Children under 2 years of age need not wear a mask.  Other children should be masked.

Church Capacity, Distancing and Sanitation – As of May 31, Churches in Montgomery County may operate at 100 % capacity and the previous social distancing and sanitation requirements are lifted.  All the pews may be used and it is no longer necessary to sanitize the pews between Masses.  Everyone should still observe personal hygiene of regularly washing and/or sanitizing their hands.  Sanitizing dispensers will still be available at Church.

Holy Water – Holy Water has been restored to the fonts for those who wish to use them. 

Collection – We will resume having ushers take up the collection during Mass.

Offertory Gifts – The gifts of the bread and wine can be brought forward again from the nave of the Church during the Mass.

Sign of Peace – The Archdiocese has asked all the Churches not to observe the sign of peace until further notice.  It is best not to encourage people yet to shake hands, the traditional sign of peace extended at Masses.

Communion – Sharing of the Communion Cup is still suspended.  The priests, deacons and ministers of Holy Communion should not wear masks for the distribution of Holy Communion.  Communicants are asked to remove their masks to receive Communion.

Liturgical Ministers – Lectors, ushers, and ministers of Holy Communion are invited to resume their ministries.

Singing at Mass – Liturgical singing can take place without any restrictions and hymnals and missalettes may be used.

Confessions – Confessions, face-to-face or anonymously can be heard without any restrictions.

Dispensation from the Obligation to Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation – The faithful continue to be dispensed by the Archbishop from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation until further notice.  The dispensation is primarily directed toward those with health issues who could experience serious complications if exposed to the virus and those who may be concerned about conveying the virus to someone they come in contact with whose immune system and health are compromised by medical issues.  The faithful not facing these issues are encouraged to return to in-person participation at Mass.  Those who are still wary of gathering in a more crowded Church can view the Masses by livestream in the Annex and Communion will be brought to you at Communion time of the Mass. 

For the spiritual and pastoral benefit of the faithful, several weeks notice will be provided as to when the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will be reinstated by the Archbishop.  Even when the obligation is restored, the faithful, as always, are excused legitimately from the obligation when they are seriously sick or caring for someone who is.


GUIDELINES FOR RETURNING TO PUBLIC MASS

 

May 29, 2020

Guidelines for Resumption of Public Masses

Archbishop Perez has announced that parishes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia can resume public Mases this weekend of June 6 and 7.   We are happy to welcome you back to the in person celebration of the Mass.  While our county remains in the Yellow Phase of statewide reopening, all of us need to do our part to make sure that our return to Mass is a peaceful and safe experience for all.  Please take the time to read the instructions below.  We ask everyone to follow these guidelines when attending Mass during this period:

General Points

  • The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation is still in effect during this Yellow Phase and continues until further notice. You are not required to attend Mass at this time.
  • Please stay home if you are sick.
  • Please stay home if you are at higher risk of severe illness with COVID – 19.
  • Mass will continue to be available via livestream. 

Mass Schedule

  • The number of people at a Mass cannot exceed 50% of the Church’s capacity. Due to the smaller size of our church and the need for social distancing a limited number of people that is even less than 50% of our capacity will be able to attend Mass in our Church at one time.   We anticipate that we will be able to accommodate about 100 people per Mass.  For this reason, we are adding an additional Mass at 8:45 am each Sunday until further notice so we can provide for the possibility of more people attending Mass. So the Mass schedule will be 5:15 pm on Saturdays, and 7:30, 8:45, 10:00 and 11:30 am on Sundays.  Also, the Antioch Annex will be set up with seats set apart to respect the need for social distance.  The Masses being celebrated in the Church will be able to be viewed in the Annex at the same time so as to accommodate those who could not fit in the Church.   Communion will be distributed in the Annex during Communion time of the Mass.  

Before Coming to Mass

  • Please wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • A face mask or cloth covering will be required to enter Church. Exceptions to this will follow the Center for Disease Control Guidelines, children who are younger than two years old, those who cannot wear a mask because of breathing problem, and anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance. 
  • The liturgical ministers will not be wearing masks so that they can more easily exercise their ministries. Their position in the sanctuary allows them to be safely distant from the congregants in the pews.
  • Missalettes and hymnals will not be in the pews during this period. You are welcome to bring your own missal/readings with you.

Entering the Church

  • Hand sanitizers will be available at the Church entrances. Please use the hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the Church.

Seating

  • When taking your seat, please honor indicators about where you may sit. Only every other pew will be open for seating.   And even in the open pews only certain parts of the pew will be available.   We will be using tape on the pews to indicate where you may not sit.
  • Members of the same household may sit together as normal. There will be six feet between members of your household and members of a different household.
  • Ushers will be present to help guide you to the available seating.

During Mass

  • Singing will be more limited than usual. A cantor will be singing in in the sanctuary, but we ask that everyone in the congregation participate by listening and not joining in the singing.   This will help prevent the release of droplets into the air.  With masks on it will be uncomfortable singing anyway.
  • The collection will not be taken up as usual at the time of the Presentation of the Gifts. Rather, baskets will be available at the doors into which you can drop you offering either while entering or exiting the Church.   The use of online giving is a good option to exercise during this period. 
  • There will be no Sign of peace during Mass.
  • The Precious Blood will not be distributed.
  • There should be no holding of hands during the Our Father.

Reception of Holy Communion

  • During the Yellow Phase, you are asked to receive Communion in the hand. Please loosen your mask when receiving Communion.  Step aside, place Communion in your mouth, reposition your mask on your face and return to your pew.  In the event you need to receive Communion on the tongue, there will be a special Communion station toward the side aisle on the Blessed Mother side.  Come up the center aisle in the Communion line and go over to the special station.  The minister at that station has to purify his/her hands after each communicant.  
  • There will be one single Communion line in the center aisle. The extraordinary ministers will be wearing masks. There will be one or two people distributing Communion up front. Near the center aisle, as well as the additional station described above for those who need to receive Communion ion the tongue.  Even if two people are distributing, please stay in one line, and go to one or the other minister of Communion when you arrive up front. Please maintain social distancing in the Communion line.  Keep several pews between yourself and the person in front of you while in line and when returning to your pew.

Exiting the Church

  • At the conclusion of Mass, please exit the Church and proceed directly to your car. Please do not congregate for any reason.  
  • Please take a Parish Bulletin home with you. They will be in the back of the Church for you to pick up as you exit.  The ushers will not be distributing the Bulletins.
  • Please leave your mask on until you exit the Church.

Sanitation

  • The pews people use will be wiped down with disinfectant wipes after every Mass.

Closing Remarks

     As you can see, there are many guidelines so that we can gather safely.  However, I do think that they will be easy to follow and the Masses will go smoothly.

     I am looking forward to our public celebration of Mass.  I thank you for your love for the Lord, for your families and communities, for the sick and the needy, and for our Parish that you have shown in the face of the challenge of this pandemic.

     May God bless you all and may the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament fill us all with his peace and strength as we continue to meet the challenges that are still ahead.

 


Statement from the Archdiocese Regarding the Project Resumption of the Public Celebration of Mass in the Five-County Region

 
Friday May 22, 2020
 
In mid-March, the celebration of public Mass was suspended in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the obligation for the faithful to attend Mass was dispensed. Those decisions were not made lightly and were always intended to be temporary measures.
 
They were made out of necessity for the common good and in recognition of the fact that all of us share a responsibility for the preservation of public health, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this unprecedented time, the Archdiocese has made every effort to provide for the spiritual needs of the faithful as well as the temporal needs of those who benefit from its many charitable works.
 
It is important to note that Catholic churches in the Archdiocese have never been closed. Local parish churches have remained open for private prayer as well as the celebration of the Sacraments Baptism, Penance, Matrimony, and funeral Masses at the discretion of the local pastor and with respect for guidelines from public health officials as they have evolved over time.
 
Based on recent statements from government officials at the state level, it is anticipated that the five-county region comprising the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will move into the “yellow” phase of the statewide re-opening plan by Friday, June 5th. As such, it is projected that the celebration of daily and Sunday Masses will resume beginning on Saturday, June 6th.
 
The administration of the Archdiocese has been working in consultation with public health officials to ensure that such a resumption takes place within the context of state approved guidelines and is actively working to provide appropriate guidance to its clergy so that all will be as prepared as possible when the public celebration of Mass begins again. All of us are eager to open the doors of Church wide for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
 


 

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez Announces The Suspension Of All Public Masses In The Archdiocese Of Philadelphia Effective At Noon Tomorrow

Today, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez has suspended all public Masses in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia effective at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18th and until further notice.

Last week, the Archbishop dispensed the faithful from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Both decisions were made in response to the growing concern over the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the directives provided by government and health department officials at the local, state, and national levels. These measures will be re-evaluated pending future developments.

Archbishop Pérez said, “As the Archbishop of Philadelphia, my first priority is to ensure the health and welfare of those entrusted to the pastoral and temporal care of our Church. So, in light of the developing Coronavirus pandemic, a decision has been made to suspend the public celebration of all Masses in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the time being.

All of us need to do our part to slow the spread of this illness. Like you, we are monitoring coronavirus developments and look forward to continuing our lives on a more normal basis.

While things may look and feel different during these uncertain times, I want to be very clear that the Catholic Church in Philadelphia is not closing down. It is not disappearing and it will not abandon you. Time and again as our history has proven the Church has risen to meet great challenges and provide a beacon of hope and light.

As your Shepherd, I promise that the Church remains steadfast and is prepared to walk with you and serve you. Neither the Church nor its charitable works will stop. God is always by our side. He never abandons us. I invite you to join me in prayerful solidarity for the intentions of the sick, suffering, and their caregivers as well as government and health officials. With God’s grace and blessing, we will navigate the difficult waters of this challenge as a united human family, for after all is said and done, we are people of Hope!”

Though public Masses are suspended in all churches in the Archdiocese, the right and need of the faithful to hear the Word of God and celebrate the Sacraments is not put aside. Pastors, along with all those who work with them, will be as attentive as possible to all the spiritual, pastoral, and charitable needs of the people they serve.

Priests will continue to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Mass during this period and to honor all requested Mass intentions.

Churches can remain open as a location for private prayer at the discretion of the pastor.  Baptisms, Confessions, Marriages, and Funerals will take place as usual but with due regard for the limitation of participants and reasonable social distancing. 

In conjunction with directives already in force in hospitals and institutions, all visits to the sick with Holy Communion, including in private homes, by priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are suspended.  In such instances, only priests will be available to celebrate the Sacraments for those in immediate danger of death. In all circumstances, government and health agency directives for group size and social distancing are to be observed as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia strives to meet the pastoral and temporal needs of all those in need.

On Sunday, March 15th, the Archdiocese featured a live streaming broadcast of the 11:00 a.m. Mass on its website and Archbishop Pérez’s Facebook page for the benefit of those wishing to participate in the liturgy remotely. This broadcast will continue each Sunday on an ongoing basis.

Additional information regarding opportunities for prayer and devotions are available on the Archdiocesan website.

For comprehensive information about the pastoral and temporal response of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit http://archphila.org/covid19/.

Contact: Kenneth A. Gavin
Chief Communications Officer
Archdiocese of Philadelphia

 


MESSAGE FROM MONSIGNOR DOUGHERTY

 

Plans for St. Margaret

Monsignor Dougherty will celebrate privately the weekday and Saturday morning Masses at our regularly scheduled times.  For Sunday, Monsignor will celebrate a Mass privately.  Although you cannot attend these private Masses, we are currently working to arrange for these Masses to be livestreamed through the internet and to be accessed when you wish.  Information regarding that possibility will be forthcoming.

 

Confessions will be offered at the scheduled times.  As stated by Archbishop Perez, Baptism, Marriages and Funerals will take place as usual but with due regard for the limitation of participants and reasonable social distancing.

 

Act of Spiritual Communion

When we are unable to attend Mass in person, the Church encourages us to make an act of spiritual communion.  I have included one here for your benefit:

 

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament.  I love Thee above all things, and I desire Thee in my soul.  Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come spiritually into my heart with the healing power of your saving presence.  I welcome you with great joy and ask that you fill me with your life and peace.  Filled with your grace, may my whole being radiate the light of your goodness.