PLAN FOR THE REOPENING OF OUR CHURCHES
(Edited for the St. Matthew Community)
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is pleased to announce the Diocese of Brooklyn will slowly work towards going back to normal by opening the doors of the churches on May 26, 2020 for private prayer and devotion as well as for funerals and limited celebrations of baptisms and weddings. The following directives will apply in general and individual churches should prepare further directions which the faithful must adhere to when visiting a church.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CHURCHES MAY OPEN THEIR DOORS ON MAY 26TH.
Stage 1: Opening of Churches for private prayer and devotion, Funerals, Baptisms and Weddings (May 26th)
Stage 2: Limited Celebrations of Daily Mass (No date has been set yet)
Stage 3: Limited Celebrations of Sunday Mass (No date has been set yet)
Stage 4: Celebration of First Holy Communion and Confirmation (No date has been set yet)
- After the churches reopen for private prayer and devotion, the full reopening of the churches for liturgical celebrations will begin after the order for reopening of large gatherings has been given. This is important because of the danger of gathered crowds and the possible spread of the virus.
- The churches will be marked off with tape to show areas that adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- The elderly and all who are health-compromised ARE ADVISED to stay home. Also, In the past 14 days if you have you experienced: fever (temperature of 100.4), cough, shortness of breath, chills/repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, you ARE ASKED TO STAY HOME. If you tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, YOU ARE ASKED TO STAY HOME. This is for the safety of others in the community.
- There will be NO holy water in the fonts.
- Hymnals, missalettes and any other worship aids will be removed from the pews and stored away.
- Bulletins are not distributed.
- Parishioners must wear masks, which they will bring on their own from home. No one should be in church without a mask.
- Parishioners are to be encouraged to bring hand sanitizer from home.
- Restrooms are open and available but used by one person at a time.
- For the foreseeable future, parishes may not schedule any events which will draw crowds and make social distancing difficult.
PRIVATE PRAYER AND DEVOTION
- The church will be open 4 hours each day. These hours will not coincide with the time a Mass is celebrated in the church.
- There is to be no congregating of people (e.g. gathering to say a rosary together). There should not be more than ten (10) people in the church and there cannot be a group gathered.
- The faithful cannot touch statues or other devotional objects in the church.
The directives indicated above apply for funerals as well.
Funeral services will be permitted but are to be strictly limited to 10 people. Holy Communion will not be distributed at these services.
Persons attending the funeral must be seated using social distancing norms (Six  feet apart) except for members of the same household and everyone must wear a mask or face covering.
Baptisms will take place with social distancing guidelines being enforced and limited to 10 or fewer participants. Baptisms can be celebrated only with prior consolation with the Office of the Chancellor.
Weddings will take place with social distancing guidelines being enforced and, at first, limited to 10 or fewer participants. No Nuptial Masses will be celebrated at this time. Holy Communion should not be distributed at this time. Weddings can be celebrated only with prior consultation with the Office of the Chancellor.
No gatherings of more than ten (10) persons is permitted. Outdoor services can only take place with the prior approval of the Vicar General of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
Anointings will be celebrated with the usual safety measures in place. Priests will wear mask and gloves and the anointing will take place with the use of a cotton ball which is to be reverently disposed of after each anointing. Any guidelines that are in place in hospitals or other institutions must be respected. There are to be no celebrations of communal anointings in church.
Confessions will take place with the priest and penitent both wearing masks and remaining at least six (6) feet distant from one another. A space other than a traditional confessional might need to be used. A larger space will be needed. Care must be taken to assure that no lines or groups form for confessions.