Sunday Mass will reopen to the public beginning the weekend of May 23-24, 2020.
Archbishop Gustavo's dispensation of all Catholics from the obligation to participate in the Mass on Sundays and other holy days of obligation within the territory of the Archdiocese of San Antonio granted on March 13, 2020 remains in effect until repealed. In the event of another health emergency public Mass may be suspended again.
Archbishop Gustavo strongly encourages the elderly and at-risk populations to stay home and participate in Mass by means of Catholic Television or parish live streaming.
Regarding the number of attendees allowed at Mass, all Masses held in the Archdiocese of San Antonio will comply with the directives of state and local authorities in effect at the time of the Mass.
1. Follow the executive orders of civic authorities and the directives of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
2. Throughout the Archdiocese the number of persons allowed to enter the church for Mass is limited to that number which can maintain appropriate social distancing.
3. If a parish or chapel cannot maintain required social distancing and sanitizing, it should remain closed for public Masses.
4. Anyone feeling sick, or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, should stay home.
5. Parishes must have trained teams prepared to sanitize the church and to support social distancing before opening.
Sanitizing the Church (See Appendix I)
1. Before and after each Mass, and other times the church is used, clean and disinfect all surfaces that parishioners are likely to touch . Include sanitizing the restrooms.
2. Recognizing that each parish has many types of surfaces to disinfect, alcohol based disinfectants are recommended for wood surfaces. Bleach-based cleansers may damage wood surfaces.
3. Parish cleaning teams must wear face masks and gloves while sanitizing. All employees and volunteers must wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the church.
1. Mass attendees will maintain a six-foot distance from others as they enter the church. Masks will be required for all persons except those too young to wear a mask throughout the Mass and anyone unable to remove a mask without assistance.
2. The number of persons allowed to enter the church will be limited to that number which can maintain the social distancing guidelines of a minimum of six feet between persons. When capacity is reached, parishioners may be directed to an overflow space if one is available.
3. Each parish should design a seating pattern to maintain proper social distancing. All Mass attendees will be seated according to the parish seating plan. Separate sections may be designated to respond to people's particular needs.
4. All loose printed materials should be removed from the church. Bulletins and notices should be kept at exit areas. All songbooks, missals, normally available paper materials, etc. are to be removed until further notice.
5. Holy water fonts are to remain empty at this time.
6. Hand sanitizer must be available at the entrance of the church, in the sacristy, and near the altar area.
7. Entrance and exit doors must be adequately designated with signs, and monitored. Those entering must be counted for compliance with capacity limits.
During the Mass
1. The presiding priest need not wear a mask, except during distribution of Holy Communion. Only the presiding priest should venerate the altar with a kiss at the beginning and the end of the Mass. Concelebrants should be separated by the required six-foot distance.
2. If a deacon serves at the Mass, he must maintain a six-foot radial distance from the presider and other ministers.
3. If an altar server is necessary, choose mature altar servers who can maintain social distance requirements.
4. Singing, especially near others, may increase the risk of viral spread. Music alone is the safest choice at this time. If there is a choir, each member should wear a mask and maintain six-foot intervals from one another.
5. At the Sign of Peace, the faithful are encouraged to greet each other with a simple head bow, or some other gesture of greeting while maintaining the required six-foot radial distance.
6. Collection basket(s) should not be passed among parishioners. (Long handled collection baskets may be used if the usher can maintain required social distance.) Collection baskets placed near the church exit will allow people to make contributions when exiting. Ushers should monitor the collection baskets.
7. Offertory processions of bread and wine will be omitted for this time. Altar breads that have been presorted into the ciboria (use the lid) will be placed on the credence table prior to the beginning of Mass. During the preparation of the gifts, covered ciboria will be placed on a separate corporal at the end of the altar until the time for distribution.
8. Communion by the chalice is reserved to the presiding priest until further notice. Intinction is not permitted
9. The Priests, Deacons, and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist should wear a mask and sanitize their hands immediately prior to administering Holy Communion and again after distribution to all.
10. Multiple communion stations may be used as long as one-way traffic patterns are observed.
11. Ushers will guide the faithful to receive Communion. (Each parish will establish procedures for distribution of the Eucharist respecting these guidelines)
12. The use of personal hand sanitizer by parishioners before leaving the pew is encouraged. Persons should come forward in a single communion line in the aisle designated at sixfoot intervals. All aisles should be one-way traffic only. Masks should be worn in the communion line and then lowered while in line before approaching the Communion Minister. After communion the mask should be raised immediately. Communion will be received in the hand only.
13. After the final blessing ushers assist in the dismissal of parishioners according to the parish plan for and in a manner that allows for social distancing.
14. Bulletins and other material for distribution should be placed at the exits for all to receive as they leave.
15. Priests and deacons should not make physical contact with parishioners as they exit.
Guidelines for Clergy
1. Priests and Deacons must maintain a six-foot distance from each other and from parishioners. Priests and deacons are not to stand at the entry area before or after Mass.
2. Priests and deacons are responsible for monitoring social distancing in the sacristy.
3. The ciboria should be pre-filled in the sacristy and placed on the credence table, ready to be brought to the altar at the preparation of the gifts. The number of ciboria should match the number of ordinary and extraordinary ministers. The altar remains clear until the time of the preparation of the gifts. The lid of the ciboria should remain on until the time for distribution.
4. For the sign of peace, a simple head bow, or some other gesture of greeting while maintaining the required six-foot radial distance.
5. When the Mass is concelebrated, each priest should use and purify his own chalice.
6. At the preparation of the gifts, the ciboria should be placed on a separate corporal at the end of the altar and will remain there until the time for distribution.
7. The priest alone will elevate both the chalice and paten (ciborium) during the doxology within the Eucharistic Prayer.
8. When a priest or deacon plans to distribute Communion, he is to sanitize his hands immediately prior to the distribution and again after distribution to all. Priests and deacons will wear a mask during the distribution of the Eucharist.
Guidelines for the Assembly
For those attending Mass, please see Appendix II, Guidelines for Mass Attendees.
Guidelines for Specific Roles
If altar servers are necessary at your parish, mature altar servers who can maintain social distancing should be chosen.
The choir should be limited. Choir members are to maintain the required six-foot radial social distancing in the choir area. The choir must wear face coverings when singing. Wind instruments should not be used at this time.
Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (EM) must wear masks during the distribution of Communion. They must sanitize their hands immediately prior to and after administering Holy Communion.
Lectors should wear a mask and try not to touch the ambo or microphone, if possible.
One Sacristan at a time is allowed in the sacristy unless space permits a six-foot distance between two sacristans. Ideally the sacristan will arrive before the priest and deacon enter the sacristy to prepare the vessels for the Mass.
The ciboria should be pre-filled and with the lid on, placed on the credence table to be brought to the altar at the time of the preparation of the gifts. The filled and covered ciboria will be placed on a separate corporal at the end of the altar until time for distribution. The number of ciboria should match the number of ordinary and extraordinary ministers.
At the conclusion of Mass, sacristans should wash the sacred vessels with water and soap and dry them before the next Mass begins.
1. Some ushers, because of age or high risk, should reconsider serving at this time.
2. Ushers will be trained in the proper application of these guidelines, the seating plan for the church, and the plan for parishioners entering and leaving the church.
3. Ushers must wear masks and disposable gloves throughout the celebration of the Mass.
4. Ushers should count those entering the church; once the seating capacity has been reached, ushers will direct people to an overflow area, if available.
5. Ushers are to ensure that individuals are seated six feet apart from each other, unless they belong to a family unit, or are part of the same household. Individuals must maintain the six-foot distance from others not part of their family unit/household.
6. Ushers will guide the faithful to receive Communion.
7. Ushers assist in controlling the dismissal of parishioners in a manner that allows for social distancing.
8. Ushers will monitor collection baskets as people exit and deposit their donation.
Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Other Liturgical Services
1. Churches, chapels, shrines, and places of devotion are to remain open to the extent possible for personal veneration by the faithful, especially where Christ is adored in the Blessed Sacrament. Each pastor or administrator should determine the hours during which the location may be kept open, ensuring security and sanitation.
2. Parishes are to continue to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, following social distancing requirements and sanitation guidelines. Priest and penitent should wear a mask.