716-683-2375 sheartshrine@gmail.com

In light of the recent announcement of 70% of New York adults having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, we have issued the following guidance for the Diocese of Buffalo: www.buffalodiocese.org/coronavirus

While this does not signal the end of the pandemic or the vigilance, care, and pastoral concern that we must continue to show for one another as Church, it does indicate that we are making significant progress as a community in mitigating this public health crisis and its effects.

JUNE 15, 2021

INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR PARISHES
It is wonderful news that 70% of New York adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. While this does not signal the end of the pandemic or the vigilance, care, and pastoral concern that we must continue to show for one another as Church, it does indicate that we are making significant progress as a community in mitigating this public health crisis and its effects. Parishes should continue to encourage individuals to follow all local, state, and federal guidance as it is updated/issued.

VACCINATIONS
Participation at in-person Masses and other parish events should not be contingent on vaccination status, nor should individuals be questioned regarding their vaccination status or asked to produce a vaccine card.

CAPACITY
At the discretion of parish leadership, reservations, pew restrictions, and other measures to limit capacity may be relaxed. However, individuals from different households should still be encouraged to maintain reasonable separation.

MASKS
Based on prevailing guidance from health officials or an individual’s doctor or other medical professional, masks are now optional but may continue to be worn at the discretion of the individual. Out of pastoral concern, the safety of others should always be considered when making this choice. Ministers of the Eucharist are encouraged to continue to wear masks when distributing Communion for the protection of the vulnerable and those who may not be able to be vaccinated.

DISPENSATION and LIVESTREAM
As of June 6, 2021, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass has been lifted and all practicing Catholics should be invited to resume regular, in-person worship. To support this effort, it is suggested that live-streaming of regularly scheduled Masses be limited to one Mass per language offered per week. (Weddings, funerals, and other celebrations may still be offered to include family members who may not yet be ready to travel.)
(* Anyone who is frail or at risk due to advanced age or medical conditions is always excused from this obligation, and we encouraged you to use your prudential judgment throughout this pandemic to determine if it was unsafe for you to attend Mass. However, for those who are healthy and not at great risk, the presumption of the faithful should be that, unless they are at an enhanced risk, sick, or caring for others who are at risk or sick, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass now resumes.)

HOLY WATER FONTS and SHARED MATERIALS
Based on current guidance from New York State (June 9, 2021), baptismal fonts and holy water stoups should remain empty; hymnals and shared, reusable texts should still be absent from pews. However…

HOLY WATER FLOWS AGAIN AT SACRED HEART
Holy water dispensers have been installed in our church this past week!
The touchless Holy Water dispenser is great, simply place your fingertips under the dispenser, and drops of Holy Water will be dispensed.
Two dispensers have been installed in the main entrance to our church, and one dispenser was installed at the side entrance.
Please take advantage of these new dispensers as our Parish Family begins to return to traditional customs when coming to church for Mass and other occasions.

HYGIENE, CLEANING, and DISINFECTION
After each liturgy, worship spaces should continue to be disinfected, especially high-risk areas or frequently touched surfaces.

SINGING
New York State’s recent guidance says, in part, “…Any singing activity must provide for a distance between individuals of at least twelve feet, subject to additional protective measures…” This guidance remains unchanged, and thus we cannot relax any prior guidelines regarding full choirs. Congregational singing should still be discouraged, but those who choose to sing should wear a mask to increase safety and reduce the potential exposure to others. Choirs may wish to safely rehearse/recruit over the summer with the hope that by the fall, based on progress and prudent judgment at that time, they may be able to return in full.

MASKS
As of June 15, masks are now optional, but may continue to be worn at the discretion of the individual. Out of pastoral concern, the safety of others should always be considered when making this choice. Ministers of the Eucharist are encouraged to continue to wear masks when distributing Communion for the protection of the vulnerable and those who may not be able to be vaccinated.

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