Frequently-Asked Questions about Worship in the Diocese of Manchester During the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Pentecost, May 31, 2020, all parishes in the Diocese will make reception of the Eucharist available to parishioners. Those parishes able to meet the directives set forth by Bishop Libasci and the social distancing, sanitation, and mitigation guidance available from federal and state public health officials may begin to offer the distribution of Communion as soon as Saturday, May 23, 2020. Please be patient with our parishes as they begin to welcome the Faithful back to our churches for Holy Communion. While some churches will be prepared to welcome parishioners to receive Holy Eucharist on May 23, others, after careful reflection, will decide it is prudent to wait until May 31.
The Faithful will participate in the Mass, via a livestream or a recorded or televised Mass. Where Mass is not available to an individual due to lack of Internet or cable access, preparations may be made by reviewing the readings for the day. At the time determined by the pastor, individuals will enter the church at intervals that respect current social distancing guidelines (currently, six feet). Masks will be required, must be worn while in the church, will be removed to receive Communion, and then must be worn again to exit the church. Once Communion is received, individuals may to offer a brief prayer of thanksgiving as they exit, or at home. While the prayer of thanksgiving is important, at this time the Faithful are asked to offer this prayer in an alternate location, since a stay of any length delays others waiting to receive Communion, some of whom may experience difficulty in waiting. Please see specific directional precautions below.
Consistent with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and our normal practice for Communion, receipt of Holy Communion may be standing or kneeling, on the tongue or on the hand, at the choice of the communicant.
At this time, the public celebration of Mass remains suspended in the Diocese of Manchester. The Faithful are encouraged to celebrate Mass with their own parishes as Masses are now widely offered via livestream or on television. If your own parish does not offer Mass in one of these formats at this time, visit https://www.catholicnh.org/livestreamed-masses for a list of churches in the Diocese currently offering Mass for remote viewing. There is no set time for when the public celebration of Mass will resume, but Bishop Libasci has been actively working with the priests of the Diocese and others and receiving guidance from local public health experts on a plan for that to happen.
Please give your parish at least a few days to prepare its plan for distributing Communion and then check first with your parish website and social media pages for information on when and how Communion will be distributed. Preparation for Communion may be made by going to Mass via such options as livestream, recorded, or televised Mass. Where these options are not available, preparations may be made by reviewing the readings for the day online (www.usccb.org/bible/readings) or in the Missal or Magnificat.
Those arriving at a church in the Diocese of Manchester to receive Holy Eucharist will see new safety guidelines:
- Wear a mask. Children under age 2 should not wear a mask. For children between 2 and 5 a mask may be worn at the discretion of the parent or guardian. You should plan to bring your own mask as you will not be allowed in the church without a mask and churches may not have the capacity to obtain and supply masks for individuals who do not bring one.
- No one may congregate either outside or inside the church,
- Social distancing will require that all who arrive must form a line and maintain the six foot distancing rule,
- Since you are preparing to receive Holy Communion all must maintain prayerful silence; there should be no talking,
- Prayers must be silent, not spoken aloud,
- The Holy Water Fonts will be empty – please do not touch them,
- Sanitize hands on entering the church,
- Maintain the six foot distance between you and the person in front of you,
- Ushers, signs and/or floor directions will indicate where to enter, exit and stand,
- Just before receiving Communion lower the mask and then immediately after receiving Communion the mask must be properly re-positioned,
- Go directly out while making your private reflective prayers of thanksgiving.
The short answer is no. The Faithful are still dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass during this time. In order to protect yourself and others, it is very important that you stay home and not go to a church to receive Holy Communion if you:
- Have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19,
- Are at high risk for COVID-19,
- Have a cough, fever, difficulty breathing or feeling sick,
- You are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the CDC, either due to age or underlying health conditions