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Update from Father Bob

June 10, 2020

Dear Parishioners of St. Stanislaus and St. Stephen:

I am sending my blessings to you all and my hope that you and your families are well. I am also very glad to share the good news with you—St. Stanislaus and St. Stephen churches will be open for Masses beginning the weekend of June 20-21. But with this good news, comes some limitations and need for real cooperation on the part of the worshippers at our churches.

A Facebook post from the Diocese of Albany summed up the current status of the Catholic churches:

• “Check with your parish first for Mass times, guidelines

• Bring a mask and wear it from before you enter the church until after you exit

• Bring hand sanitizer, if possible

• Expect to be seated by an usher

• Do not greet fellow parishioners, priest, volunteers (even though we know how much you want


• Please be patient. We are all learning how to do this. WELCOME BACK”

By now through the information available on various aspects of the news and social media, you have

some indication of the requirements that must be met to open our churches. The purpose of this letter is to explain in greater detail how those basic instructions above will impact you and your family as you return to St. Stanislaus and St. Stephen.

General Requirements

• All worshippers must wear a mask when then enter the church and until they leave the building.

• We ask that you bring/use hand sanitizer upon entry; sanitizer will be available if you do not

have it.

• Please be aware of maintaining the 6 foot distance as you enter/leave the church.

• Entry to the church will be at only the main door; exiting after Mass will be at the side doors as

directed by the ushers.

• A collection box for envelopes/donations will be located in the vestibule as you enter the

church. Please be prepared to deposit your envelopes in the container; for the immediate

future there will be no collection by the ushers.

• There will be no worship aids or missals available in the pews.

• Distribution of bulletins will take place as you exit the church after Mass.

Disinfecting and Sanitizing

After each Mass, the areas occupied by worshippers (pews, kneelers, railing, doorknobs, restrooms, high touchpoint and traffic areas) will be sanitized.

Capacity/Social Distancing

The current acceptable standard for occupancy is 25% of the capacity of our churches. However that

number must be adjusted based on the social distancing requirement of 6 feet distance. As you might imagine, that limits the number of people that can sit in contiguous pews, and we can allow seating only in alternate pews. Social distancing exceptions are for those who require mobility assistance and, of course, those living in the same household. For example, three separate and individual worshippers will occupy one pew due to social distancing. But a family of four or five or six who live together may occupy the same pew. When you come to church, an usher will escort you to the next available pew.

Please be cooperative as they are only trying to implement the required distancing rule.

If the space in church is full, we will be opening the Parish Hall for additional seating. All of the protocols and requirements are the same as the church proper. If capacity is also reached in this space, we will not be able to seat additional worshippers.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is a phrase that was previously unknown to us but, unfortunately, has become very

familiar. To continue to monitor and reduce the possibility of spreading the virus, we are required to

identify all of the worshippers who come to a particular Mass on a particular weekend. If a confirmed

case of COVID19 can be linked back to a Mass, we can easily communicate that information to all in

attendance at the Mass.

Your cooperation with this requirement will be truly appreciated. We ask that you bring with you a

piece of paper with your contact information already on it—name, address and telephone number. If

you prepare the information before you come to church, it will ease and facilitate the seating of

worshippers. As you are seated, the usher will record the pew at which you will be seated. The

information will be saved for a period of time, and hopefully, never needed. (You might consider using the preprinted labels that so many of us receive in mailings and solicitations.)

The Eucharist

The Eucharist will be distributed at the end of Mass, after the final dismissal. Ushers will be located at

all pews to direct you as you leave your pew and advance toward the ministers. Here again, we will

need to be mindful to maintain a 6 foot distance as you move through the pews and up the main aisle. After reception of the Eucharist, you will be directed to the side entrances to exit the church. Please do not leave anything in the pews that would require a return to your pew.

A reminder that receiving Holy Communion on the tongue is a matter of universal law and therefore

cannot be forbidden, except by a change in the law by the Pope. However we urge you to consider

receiving Holy Communion in your hand, to consider, in charity, the health and wellbeing of the minister distributing Holy Communion. If you must receive on the tongue, you will be asked to step aside and wait until distribution in the hand is complete.


As earlier reported, collections by the ushers will not be needed at this time. Most of our ushers have

agreed to assist with guiding people to their pews, distributing bulletins, assisting with sanitizing the

church after Mass, etc. To minimize the number of individuals in the sanctuary, we will be requesting that Lectors are available to read for a period of one month.

Catholic Community of Amsterdam and Hagaman

In the event that the capacity of your church has been reached and cannot seat additional worshippers, please consider attending Mass at one of the other churches in the area.

The weekend Mass schedules for area churches are:

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Saturday, 4:00 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Saturday, 4:00 p.m. Sunday, 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.

St. Stanislaus’ Saturday, 4:00 p.m. Sunday, 10:00 a.m.

St. Stephen’s Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, 8:00 a.m.

Responding to all the requirements for the re-opening of our dear churches is not easy and requires

sacrifice from all of us, and our plan for re-opening our churches must be approved by the Diocese. If

you are not comfortable with the requirements that will be implemented to return to church, or if you

do not feel well, please stay home. We will continue to live stream the Masses, and the temporary

suspension of the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days during the pandemic remains in force.

I ask your patience and cooperation so that we can once again meet as a parish community to worship God and ask for his protection and blessing.

From my heart to your homes,

Fr. Bob

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