Letter from Fr. Keith (July 1)

Dear Parishioners of St. Dunstan’s,

This weekend, we will joyfully welcome each other back to the celebration of the Eucharist after being away from Sunday Mass for nearly four months, I, for one, when we left that Sunday evening, March 15, thought we’d likely be back in a few weeks—quite probably in time for Easter—and that we’d come back in the door to resume, quite the same as we’d left off. We all now know that wasn’t going to happen.

We will celebrate four Masses this weekend: Saturday at 4 pm, Sunday at 9 am, 11 am, and 5 pm. All weekend Masses will be in the main church. For this weekend we will be limited to 50 people at each, including the priest and those in the various ministries. We hope to increase the number to 100 at each Mass, beginning next weekend. Please note that because of cleaning and disinfecting requirements, the church will not be open other than for Mass on Saturdays and Sundays for the time being.

Preregistration is necessary. Follow this link:    https://www.eventbrite.ca/o/saint-dunstans-basilica-30565390440.      If you have no computer access, please call 902-621-1988 or 902-367-7829. Registration for the Masses closes the day before at 4 pm.

So you’ll have an idea what to expect, be aware that there will be limited seating, and that physical distancing of six feet for people not in the same household is required. You will be greeted by a parishioner who will take your name.  An usher will guide you to your seat. Further instructions will be given before Mass begins.

You will notice some differences. The priest will come directly from the sacristy to begin the Mass. There will not be singing, as we have been accustomed to it. Hymn books have been removed from the pews. There will be no offertory procession or collection of money. There will be a container available as you enter the church where you can deposit your envelope or loose donation. Our time with COVID-19 has been difficult for lots of reasons. Financial hardship has visited many homes. Many parishes have also experienced significant to dramatic economic loss. I say this so you will be aware of the need. We won’t belabour the point! Thanks to those who have contributed so generously over these many weeks.

Before you come to Mass, if you haven’t already done so, please read the directives in the most recent diocesan protocol. Find it here: http://dioceseofcharlottetown.com/worshipsafe-directives-for-church-services/.

A few further details:

Sunday Mass will be briefer than has been the norm.

For the present, washrooms are closed unless needed. Especially with children, maybe they could use the facilities before they leave home.

If you are currently required to be in self-isolation, please do not attend until such time as that period has expired.

If you are unwell, please stay home.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills, shortness of breath, stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, unusual fatigue, recent loss of sense of taste and/or smell, please monitor your condition and call 811 for consultation, and please stay home. If you have been in the presence of someone with COVID-19 symptoms in the recent past, please do not attend.

Please avoid unnecessarily touching any surfaces in the church.

Wash your hands well before you come to Mass, and use the hand sanitizer that is available as you enter.

If you are among the vulnerable population because of age or illness of some kind, and are uncomfortable coming, please feel at ease staying home and praying for us. We will remember you.

A reminder: Bishop Grecco has advised that the obligation for attending Sunday Mass is suspended in the diocese until further notice.

Those attending are reminded that we aren’t able, at this time, simply to walk in. Time is needed for registration and other particulars. For that reason, please plan to arrive at church earlier than may be your custom. Please begin to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to start time—or even a few minutes before that, if you can. You will need to be guided to your seat. As you wait for that, please remember to observe physical distancing.

It is possible there will not be room for everyone. Remember there are also weekday Masses 9 am, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday downstairs in Glastonbury Hall. Please be generous in sharing the opportunity to attend the Eucharist.

Finally, we are in need of parishioners to assist in a number of needs in an ongoing way. We need people to help sanitize the seats and other contact areas after each Mass. We require people to be involved in guiding people to their seats, in helping check names as people come into the church, and, when we welcome up to 100, to assist organizing people before they come into the church. If you’d be willing to help out, please drop your name and contact info into the collection box at the door, or contact the parish office 902-894-3486, saintdunstans@gmail.com Heartfelt thanks to those who have already made themselves available.

I’m re-reading all of this and hoping you don’t find it overwhelming. That’s the furthest thing from its intent. It’s just to help us get prepared to do what we need to do to safeguard one another and the larger society. I don’t think I’ve ever been so aware of the great Catholic teaching of “the common good” as I’ve been since mid-March. That tradition reminds us that every one of us shares in responsibility for the well-being of the community, and the community shares responsibility for the well-being of every one of us. Think of the world if everyone in it took that call to mutual care seriously. Now is our time and this is our place to do precisely that.

Let us continue to pray for one another, and to be kind and patient.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

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