OGDENSBURG — Bishop Terry R. LaValley of the Diocese of Ogdensburg has begun discussing with priests the steps necessary to reopen churches.

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“We recognize that it’s going to take pretty extensive planning to get these buildings open. For some pastors that means making a plan for two or three church buildings to reopen worship,” Diocese of Ogdensburg spokeswoman Darcy L. Fargo said. “So we wanted to get some rough guidelines out early to get them able to plan.”

The north country region started phase one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s reopening plan on Friday. Ms. Fargo said churches are not expected to open until the region reaches Phase 4 and the Diocese wants to use the available time to be ready.

“We want to make sure everyone is planning based on the best guidelines that have been reviewed by our local health officials,” Ms. Fargo said. “We have been working with them very extensively to put together this plan.”

Each parish, Ms. Fargo said, is going to have to map out what social distancing will look like in each building.

“What’s the flow of traffic going to look like,” she said. “They are going to have to do some marking off, some taping, put up signs.”

Along with helping pastors plan, the Diocese wants to keep parishioners informed.

“We also wanted to make sure that the faithful know that planning is going on and being done with the goal of keeping their safety and the safety of our priests and our ministers at the forefront,” Ms. Fargo said. “And we also want to let them know that mass is going to look different when it does resume.”

The guidelines priests are following include:

— Churches will undergo continual intensive cleaning and sanitizing.

— At the outset, only a certain number of people will be able to physically attend Mass. This is largely determined by the size of the church and the requirements of social distancing.

— Individuals who are at higher risk with the coronavirus and those who are sick are asked to remain at home.

— All parishioners ages two and over will wear face coverings while in church to protect themselves and others.

—There will be no holy water in fonts.

— There will be no offertory processions.

— There will be no passing of the collection basket. The basket will be placed in a fixed location and parishioners will be asked to drop their contributions into the basket as they enter or leave the church.

— The distribution of Communion will be different.

— No worship aids, such as missalettes and hymnals, will be available for use.

— There will be no choirs in the early phases of the return to public worship.

— There will be no congregating in the church, on the steps or at the doors of the church.

— Bishop LaValley will extend the dispensation for Sunday Mass until further notice.

“We yearn for the day when we can return to Church to be with our parish family in worship and praise of our God. We hunger to be fed with the Bread of Life,” Bishop LaValley said in a press release from the Diocese. “But this will be a gradual process that requires significant changes in the way we have always done things so that we can provide as safe an environment as possible for those who would enter our sacred spaces. Each parish will prepare a specific plan that will incorporate these new features of our Mass experience. These changes are temporary, and the guidelines will change as we make progress against the Coronavirus. We thank you for your patience and understanding, and I continue to pray for you all.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

St. Lawrence/Franklin County Editor

Slowly self-propelled. Two-time cancer survivor. Nearly 30-year newspaper veteran.

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(3) comments

rockloper

Yup, the biggest business in the world is losing a boatload of money during the shutdown. Their obscenely lavish churches don't pay for themselves after all.

Holmes -- the real one

rockloper -- once again, your comment goes right to the heart of the matter.

Why IS it that these churches are decorated so lavishly when people in the community are lining up at the food pantry?

The Jesus these churches claim to serve said to a wealthy man who claimed that he had scrupulously followed the commandments for his entire life, "Go sell all you have and give the proceeds to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven." The passage goes on to state that the man went away sorrowful because he had great wealth.

Apparently it's still about money.

rockloper

[thumbup] Ya, some people have definitely lost their way. I think about all the money that was raised (over $1M) for a restoration project at St. Stephan's church in Croghan. All the parishioners think it's so wonderful now and how god is great to furnish them with this money. I stopped my $100 donation to their food bank after that.[sad]

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