Return to Worship Plans


The Diocese of Lafayette has developed a thorough, phased Return to Worship plan in response to the COVID outbreak. Given St. Tom’s connection and proximity to Purdue University, our parish is following COVID safety protocols established by both the Diocese and the University.   

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 St. Tom’s direction for Phase D of the Return to Worship plan, effective July 5. 


  • 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. 


Phase D requires all live-stream Masses to be open to the public. The Saturday Vigil at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday Mass at 9:00 a.m. take place in person. The livestream Mass moves from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 5, and the 11:00 a.m. Mass returns Sunday, July 19 as in-person only. Daily Mass may be attended in-person or by livestream. 

Note: Given provisions required for sanitizing the church between the 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Masses, the parish will need additional volunteer ushers. Please contact the church office if you can assist. Volunteer ushers should not be considered part of COVID vulnerable populations (65 and older or underlying medical conditions).

  • Registration
    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 Vigil and Sunday Mass each week. No registration is required for Daily Mass due to smaller attendance. Reservations may be made through a Flocknote invitation distributed each Sunday evening for the next week 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
    • In-Person
      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. Note: For daily Mass, attendees should enter the two east entrances directly from the parking lot into the sanctuary. 

      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. A cantor and accompanist provides music and song, but the congregation will not sing. 

Communion during Mass:

    • St. Tom’s will now offer Communion during Daily and Sunday Mass beginning with Vigil Mass this Saturday, July 4. 
    • An usher will dismiss your row; you will be provided hand sanitizer as you approach to receive the host.
    • Communion will continue to be received in the hand only. Once you receive the host, please step to the side, lower your mask, consume the host, and then replace your mask before returning to your seat.
    • Rather than leaving the sanctuary after receiving Communion, attendees should return to their seats for Mass announcements, final blessing, and the recessional hymn. 

After Mass: Once Mass is complete, ushers will dismiss rows, and attendees will exit the east doors of the sanctuary. 

  • Chapels and Eucharistic Adoration
    • Again, St. Tom’s will remain consistent with the University and its restricted facility access. Eucharistic Adoration will continue daily in the parking lot. 
    • It is anticipated that controlled access to the chapel space for prayer will begin on August 16. 
  • Reconciliation
    • A temporary confessional has been set up in the northwest corner (near the permanent confessional). Please observe the procedure below so we can celebrate the sacrament safely.
    • Schedule: Monday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. and Daily from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
    • Procedure
      • Enter the east entrance to the sanctuary.
      • The line for confession begins in the back of the church. Stand on the designated spots on the floor to maintain proper social distancing while waiting. Please remain standing, and do not sit in the pews.
      • When it is your turn to celebrate the sacrament, approach the confessional. You have the option to celebrate the sacrament from behind the screen or face-to-face. 
      • Once you are finished, follow the arrows to exit the confessional. You may remain for a few minutes to pray, but please only do so in the front half of the church.
      • Parishioners who are physically unable to manage the stairs at the east entrance and/or wait in line for confession may schedule an appointment with a priest by calling the church office. 

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!  

Note: St. Tom’s Return to Worship Plan is subject to change based on any new public directives by governmental authorities, Purdue University, and/or the Diocese of Lafayette.

Worship Resources

Other COVID-19 Resources