Return to Worship Plans
With slow, steady progress, we are hopeful for the full return of our in-person worship time as a faith community. In the meantime, a thorough plan for the opening of limited, weekend in-person Mass starting May 30 has been developed.
Our plan reflects a commitment to the health and safety of our staff and worshipers and is inclusive of the recommendations from our state and federal government (the Center for Disease Control – CDC), the Diocese of Lafayette, and our own St. Tom’s Return to Worship Planning Committee.
The information below outlines how Mass will be initially coordinated and what you can expect when attending Mass at St. Tom’s during our first phase of our reopening.
- If you have tested positive with COVID-19, are not feeling well, or have any flu-like symptoms, especially fever do NOT attend Mass.
- The dispensation from the obligation to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation remains in effect until August 15 and livestream Mass, with music, will continue to be offered at least until August 15.
- It is recommended by the CDC that those who have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus and those who are age 65 and older should remain home and participate in Mass online at this time.
For this initial reopening phase, the Saturday Vigil at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday Mass at 9:00 a.m. will take place in person, and the Sunday Mass at 11:00 a.m. will continue as livestream with no general congregation attending.
Due to the social distancing safety requirement of six feet, approximately 200 parishioners per Mass can be accommodated. You must register on-line to attend Mass each week. This will be accomplished through a Flocknote invitation distributed each Sunday evening for the next week (beginning May 24) with a link and instructions on how to register. Note: Individuals without Internet access may call the church office at (765) 743-4652.
- Mass Format
Entering Church: Registered attendees (all with face masks) will line up (with six feet between parties) and may begin to enter the cleaned and sanitized church 30 minutes prior to the start of Mass through two entrances – the east side of the Gather Space (ramp entrance) and the south entrance to the church on Marstellar Street (the entrance directly off the sidewalk – NOT up the stairs). All attendees will be provided hand sanitizer upon entering the church (and a face mask if they do not have one). An usher will guide your party to available seats to ensure the six feet distance requirement between groups.
During Mass: For the safety of others and yourself, attendees must keep their masks on throughout Mass and maintain six-foot physical distance between parties. If you need to use the restrooms while in the building, please follow the directions on signage in the gather space. There will be no music due to the aerosolization of the virus from singing nor any missalettes or hymn books in the pews.
After Mass: Communion will be offered at the end of Mass. An usher will dismiss your row; you will be provided hand sanitizer as you approach to receive the host; and you may lower your mask to place the host from your hand to mouth. If you insist on receiving the host on the tongue, you must wait until the rest of Mass attendees have received. After receiving communion, exit immediately through one of the two exits at the front of church. Note: Those with special needs who are unable to depart using these exits may return to their seats after receiving Communion and an usher will assist you with an alternate exit route after Communion has ended. Please avoid congregating outside the exits after Mass to maintain physical distance requirements.
- Livestream: The one livestream Sunday Mass at 11:00 a.m. will continue with music ministry (limited members) and one lector in person.
To reopen (and keep open) the church and to ensure the well-being of our St. Tom’s community, we must follow these strict sanitation and distance protocols. We thank our Return to Worship Planning Committee (Alice Hession, John Cox, Julie Demerly, John Smith, Barb Strasburger, and Kenny Sebastian) for their insights and efforts, which are allowing us to open our doors to worship!
If you have questions or would like to hear more about our Return to Worship Plan, please join Father Patrick’s Fireside Chat on Sunday, May 24 at 6:00 p.m. via our boilercatholics livestream on Youtube. The discussion will be recorded and available afterwards on St. Tom’s YouTube channel for those unable to attend the chat.
If you have questions after reading this message or after attending or listening to the recorded Fireside Chat with Father Patrick, please submit them through this online form.
We thank you for your patience and adherence to the return to worship protocol, and we very much look forward to seeing you at Mass!
St. Tom’s Return to Worship Plan is subject to change based on any new public directives by governmental authorities and/or by the Diocese of Lafayette.
Other COVID-19 Resources
- Diocese of Lafayette COVID-19 Updates
- CDC Resources to Protect Yourself and Your Family: