We are living our faith in new ways, imperfect as it may be, but because of this we are fulfilling one of our strongest commandments to love thy neighbor. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for our community. Not being able to attend Holy Mass or receive the Holy Eucharist in person hurts every faithful’s heart directly. We are sacrificing the core of our faith in order to keep our community and loved ones healthy. It is for this reason that our sacrifice is and will continue to be extremely important. In thanks to your prayers and commitment, the time has come to begin the move toward public worship once again. It is with great joy that we announce Phase 1 of the reopening of our church.
A Reopening Committee created a plan guided by the regulations and recommendations of the Diocese of Tucson and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Naturally, temporary restrictions will be present, along with protocols to follow, in order to continue our commitment to take care of our neighbor. Based on the community’s response as responsible Catholics, restrictions may eventually decrease, but the possibility exists that we may have to revert to reclosure if this committee or the Diocese of Tucson deems it necessary.
Furthermore, while the Reopening Committee and Father Manolo Padilla are working to reduce the risk, there are no risk-free situations. A parishioner’s presence at a public event constitutes his or her understanding and acceptance that there is an inherent risk, regardless of age or health, in attending any public event. This includes religious services.
Because of this we encourage the continued practice of our faith by participating in virtual masses. Especially for the “vulnerable persons” of our community. This includes adults of 65 years and older and those with a chronic health condition, as identified by the CDC and the Diocese of Tucson. In addition, we ask that families with small children 5 years and younger consider staying home as well. Be aware that the Sunday Mass Obligation is suspended within the Diocese of Tucson until further notice.
As a committee we feel that the best time to initiate the gradual reopening of our parish will be on the weekend of June 5th to June 8th. Because of the limitations created by social distancing, the occupancy of our church will be reduced by 75%. Only a total number of 175 parishioners will be allowed to attend Mass at one time.
To help with this situation, Bishop Edward Weisenburger will allow for the celebration of the Sunday Mass Liturgy to start Friday evening through to the end of Monday evening. This will also stretch out our Mass schedules which will allow for the sanitation of the church between Masses.
The Mass Schedule for San Felipe de Jesus Church will be as follows:
All Masses will be celebrated in Spanish by Father Manolo Padilla. Mass servers will be limited to only a few key positions. All servers will be persons of low health risk and will be screened for symptoms before every Mass. We will have six ushers, two attending the parking lot, two welcoming and giving instruction at the doors and two assisting with seating. We will also have a commentator and 4 to 6 Extraordinary Ministers who will assist the priest with the distribution of the Holy Communion.
To further protect certain members of our community and keep a better control of social distancing, we have prioritized different Masses for certain parishioners. As good Catholics we should respect these recommended attendance priorities as much as possible.
1. General attendance information: We ask that you please follow these general recommendations and indications:
2. What to expect once you arrive to church: We require that all parishioners attending mass follow
and obey the following requirements:
a. Social distancing will be expected on church grounds at all times, at exterior and interior spaces.
3. Exiting the Church:
4. Sanitizing of the Church:
5. Other services and Sacraments:
It is extremely important to understand that the committee may decide to cancel the reopening if at any point we consider that it is not safe to open the church as planned. The committee may also decide to reclose the church if circumstances change after reopening.
Please keep attentive to any changes and/or new information. The parish Facebook and website page will be the main source for official notices.
Thank you for your attention to these guidelines. Our response as parishioners will show our continued commitment to protect our community and our loved ones, who include our priests and ministers. As we continue to work toward the gradual reopening of our church, we ask for your continued prayers for the end of the pandemic, for our priests, and for all the people affected by the virus.