Dear St. Cletus Family,
I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy. As you may have seen, Cardinal Cupich recently shared our multi-phased plan for reopening churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Specifically,
- Phase I allows for parishes to reopen for Baptism, Reconciliation, Weddings and Funerals with a limit of 10 attendees.
- Phase IA allows for parishes to reopen for private prayer and adoration with a limit of 10 attendees.
- Phase II allows for reopening for weekday and weekend Masses for larger groups, depending on the guidelines from the state and the capacity of the church building.
Our St. Cletus Reopening Plan
First and foremost, it is important for everyone to understand that our efforts will prioritize the safety and well-being of all, while maintaining due respect and reverence for the sacraments and liturgical norms of our faith.
I am assembling a Parish Reopening Leadership Team with parishioner co-captains to lead our efforts. Together, we will attend required training from the Archdiocese to ensure that our parish reopening plan conforms to the guidelines developed by the Archdiocese in collaboration with civil and healthcare authorities. We will also receive a starter kit of protective and cleaning supplies, as well as guidance on purchasing/maintaining supplies ongoing.
We are in need of volunteers to assist with various aspects of our parish reopening plan. Importantly, leadership team members and volunteers must not be part of a “vulnerable population” (that is, not over the age of 65; no underlying medical condition such as diabetes; lung disease; undergoing cancer treatment, etc.). I ask all of you who are younger than 65 and healthy with no underlying health conditions to consider assisting with one of three reopening teams:
- Greeting Team and Ushers. Sample duties include ensuring that entrances and exits are marked and propped physically open prior to attendees’ arrival/departure and that windows are open. Ensure that pew and seat tags are all in place; assist in managing the flow of congregants as they enter the church, making sure attendees use hand sanitizer upon entering, are wearing a mask, and are reminded not to enter if ill; directing people to appropriate seating/waiting areas, etc.; assist with congregants movement during the service.
- Set-Up/Sacristan Team. Sample duties include ensuring that all supplies and liturgical vessels needed for each sacramental celebration/gathering are ready for use; ensure that sanctuary and sacristy are cleaned and sanitized before and after each service; clean and sanitize all supplies and vessels used during the service. Masks and gloves will be provided if you do not have your own, in addition to approved cleaning/disinfecting supplies.
- Cleaning Team. Sample duties include disinfecting and cleaning essential and trafficked areas of the church before and after the church has been used. Masks and gloves will be provided, if you do not have your own, in addition to approved cleaning/disinfecting supplies.
The Reopening Leadership Team and I will make sure that all volunteers are properly trained. Please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate your willingness and ability to volunteer. From those that step forward, we will also request that some act as volunteer captains to help lead each of the three teams.
Timing for Our Reopening
As I mentioned, the Parish Reopening Leadership Team, which is still being formed, will need to complete required training. The parish priests, our business manager, our parish maintenance team and I completed the live one-hour required training webinar when it was offered this past Monday, May 18th . Once determined, all team members and volunteers will also need to complete the training, which will be available on demand. Once we complete the training, we will need to review and complete tasks assigned to all parishes as part of a reopening certification process to be approved by the Archdiocese.
Though the Archdiocese has indicated that a parish may open for sacramental celebrations, private prayer or Eucharistic Adoration by this weekend (May 23 rd ), our parish, like all others in the Archdiocese, will move forward at a pace and timing appropriate for its own situation and on this limited basis, upon receiving certification from the Archdiocese.
Following our training and certification approval, at St. Cletus we will only open our church once the Reopening Leadership Team and I feel confident that we have the right volunteers in place to make it possible to reopen. Again, the need for parishioner assistance cannot be overstated.
There are still many details to be put into place, for even this partial reopening, so that both staff and parishioners can be certain of safety.
And while our parish staff will attempt to take appropriate precautions with the advice of public health authorities, parishioners and guests should understand that they assume the risk of contracting covid-19 anytime they enter a public space since such precautions do not eliminate the risk of infection.
Since we are just in the beginning of the reopening process, St. Cletus will not be ready to reopen this weekend. We will communicate with the parish the exact date that we will be able to reopen.
As Cardinal Cupich has noted, Scripture teaches that we indeed are “our brother’s keeper.” Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed, “that they all may be one” (Jn 17:21) and commanded us “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34) . Our collective patience, willingness to help, and the care we take to reopen is a demonstration of our unity and love for one another.
May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Bob Clark, Pastor