We are excited to announce that we will be reopening the church for Mass and the reception of several of the sacraments beginning Monday, July 6, 2020 (with capacity limitations). The Ministry Center offices, as well as the offices at St. James School and Religious Education will also reopen the week of July 6th.    

Thank you to all our parishioners who have and will continue to show remarkable patience. Being told where to sit and when to leave can be annoying. Be assured this won’t continue forever. These are difficult times, strange times and demanding times! Yet it is with great joy, hope (and flexibility), we celebrate the return of public Masses, and the incremental process of reopening our church and our parish life!

ARRIVING AT CHURCH: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW


All are asked to practice proper hygiene for everyone’s safety prior to arriving on campus. Please take your temperature and  confirm that you are healthy to come to mass. While the bathrooms in the narthex will be open, we ask that you use the bathroom before coming to church. In addition,

Please park in the lot accessible from Fawell Blvd. only as the church doors on Park Blvd. will remain locked. Park in spaces so that all vehicles are separated by a minimum of one (1) empty space.

Please remain in your car until the church doors are unlocked thirty (30) minutes prior to the start of Mass.

At that time you may form a socially distanced line outside, under the canopy, as you wait to enter and check-in.

Only pre-registered guests will be permitted to enter the church at Check-in. Pre-registration is required for all Masses, Reconciliations and all Sacramental Celebrations. For more information on how to pre-register, visit our webpage: How to Pre-register for Mass and Sacramental Celebrations

At the Check-In Table, individuals/families will be asked the following questions:

1) Do you feel sick or are you experiencing a fever, cough or shortness of breath?

2) In the past fourteen (14) days, have you been in close contact with a person confirmed or suspected to have the COVID-19 virus?

We will advise all persons/families “if you have any chronic medical condition, are over the age of 65, or considered to be in a high risk category to contract COVID-19, you are encouraged not to attend Mass publicly. It is your choice if you proceed.” Please note: Volunteers are required to ask each person/family these questions every day.

Then you will be asked to please step to the side to sanitize hands and then proceed into church where all will be seated in spaces deemed appropriate by the Reopening Greeter/Usher. 

Doors to the church will be locked when the bells before Mass begin to ring and no one will be allowed to enter the building, regardless of their reservation status in order to maintain the safety and health of all attendees.

SEATING IN THE CHURCH


Please be aware that due to the limited capacity of the church and the diocesan directives, you may not be seated in your usual spot.

Persons/families will be directed to enter a designated pew and sit within a designated area so as to leave a safe distance between them/their family, the surrounding parishioners and the center and outside aisles. Families, while they will not have to socially distance in their pew, must adhere to sitting in the designated sections of the pew. If all family members cannot fit in that section, additional family members will be escorted to the next available pew.

As other persons/families arrive for Mass, they will be advised to wait in the narthex, socially-distancing themselves six (6) feet or more from the next person/family until an usher is able to seat them.

Mass will begin ONLY WHEN all parties present are seated and in compliance with all safety measures including, but not be limited to maintenance of social distancing, church capacity and adherence to the wearing of masks. If necessary we will provide masks.

RECEIVING COMMUNION


One (1) communion line will be formed in the center aisle and Father will distribute Communion in the hand only. 

Reopening Ushers will dismiss pews one at a time, ensuring social distancing, until all have received Communion.

Continue to wear your mask as you come forward for Communion and stay attentive to the lines taped on the carpet to maintain social distancing.

Sanitize your hands prior to receiving Communion at the station near the front of the church. Holy Communion may not be received in the hand if a member of the faithful is wearing gloves.

After receiving Communion, you are asked to move six (6) feet away from the celebrant, lower your mask and take Communion and return to your seat.

DISMISSAL


The faithful are advised to stay until the end of Mass when they will be dismissed one pew at a time by the ushers.

Upon dismissal persons/families should to go directly to their cars and maintain social distancing so the church may immediately be professionally sanitized for the next celebration.

ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES TO EXPECT


Entrance to the Church is limited to one set of doors at the front of the building. Attendees should park only in the lot accessible from Fawell Blvd. Doors will be unlocked 30 minutes prior to Mass and locked when the bells  ring before Mass. After that time, no one will be allowed to enter the building, regardless of their reservation.

The Eucharistic Chapel remains closed at this time due to social distancing directives.

The Cry Room remains closed for use at Mass and Sacramental Celebrations, with the exception of Reconciliation.

The Reconciliation Rooms remain closed for use for the celebration of Reconciliation. The Cry Room will be utilized for this purpose instead.

The Coat Room/Parish Library remains closed at this time due to social distancing directives.

There will be lines taped down outside under the canopy, inside the narthex and inside the church to assist all with appropriate social distancing as you wait to check-in, be seated and receive Communion. 

The Narthex and Parking Lots cannot be used for gatherings before, during or after Mass.

Father David or our guest priests will be unable to offer a pastoral greeting to you before or after Mass per diocesan directives.

LITURGICAL CHANGES TO EXPECT


Distribution of worship aides and missals is suspended. The bulletin is available on the website.

Holy water fonts remain empty.

Seating is limited to uphold social distancing.

Offertory Baskets will not be passed, but will be placed in the back of church for use. We offer enrollment in electronic giving for those who prefer it.

The Sign of Peace should be exchanged with a wave or verbal greeting, instead of a handshake between non-domiciled individuals.

The Priest will be the only Minister of Communion at this time. He will be wearing a face mask and a face shield and will distribute from the center aisle only after he sanitizes his hands.

Communion will be received ONLY in the hand after you have sanitized your hands while in line. After receiving Communion in the hand, you are asked to move six (6) feet away from the celebrant, lower your mask, consume the Host, cover your face once again with the mask and return to your seat, following the directions of the usher/greeter. It is not permitted to receive Communion in the hand while wearing gloves, nor is it permitted to rest anything, such as a tissue, on the hand to use as a barrier. Only one person may come forward at a time with the exception of parents who have small children. Please note: Blessings of small children by the priest are suspended at this time.

Distribution of the cup remains suspended.

Singing at Mass is suspended. Instrumental music will be provided. Mass parts will be spoken.

Liturgical Ministers will not serve at Mass unless a visiting priest requires assistance. 

Private Prayer and common recitation of prayer in the church is suspended for now, i.e. Rosary


The general dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation remains in place indefinitely. We will continue to offer Sunday Masses and Holy Day Masses online for those who want to stay home for worship. The link to these Masses may be found in the header of our webpage each week. The link is also sent on Fridays through a Flocknote Email. (If you want to sign up to receive Flocknote Emails, visit StJamestheApostleGE or text Stjamesge to 84576).

The Bishops of Illinois have worked diligently to create a plan to reopen Catholic Churches for Mass and Sacraments during this time of a pandemic to ensure the health and safety of all parishioners, staff and volunteers who desire to return to public worship. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the directives the parish, parishioners and guests must adhere to in order to gather together for public worship.*

*Parishioner Risk Assumption: While the parish will attempt to take appropriate precautions consistent with the advice of public health authorities, parishioners and guests should understand they assume the risk of contracting COVID-19 anytime they enter a public space, since such precautions do not eliminate the risk of infection.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to email reopen@stjamesge.org  Thank you!