Dear Saint Anne Family:
As announced on Tuesday, I am writing to you today to inform you of the interim plan that we implementing to organize parish attendance at the Sunday Masses.
This letter has two parts. The first will be very brief and general and serves as an introduction to the second and more important part, which is organized in the form of questions and answers (FAQs). I hope that in this way things will be clearer for everyone. I ask you to read this carefully and completely and know that we are doing our very best in this difficult and unprecedented situation.
The seating capacity of our church has been greatly reduced by the new measures put in place by the Diocese of Phoenix. Obviously, a distance of almost 6 feet between persons and/or families reduces the seating capacity significantly.
To organize attendance at the Sunday Masses, we will use the software used to manage the seating and purchase of tickets for the plays in the parish hall. In this way, everyone will have the opportunity to choose the Mass they would prefer to attend and will be certain that there are reserved seats available for them when they arrive at the church.
If there are remaining seats at a given Mass, after all those with tickets have been seated, then those without tickets will be admitted as space permits. This is all explained in greater detail in the FAQs.
To allow for as many people as possible to attend Sunday Masses, I ask everyone to reserve seats at only one Mass per weekend, either the Saturday Vigil Mass or the Sunday Mass. In other words, for those who attend Mass daily do not, for example, reserve seats at both the Saturday Vigil, and also seats on Sunday. I would invite you instead to attend the daily Mass on Saturday in the morning in honor of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Hope.
I am convinced that with the work of our staff and volunteers, and with the spirit of cooperation and patience that you have admirably shown over the past weeks, everything will go very well. Let’s help each other “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:2-3)
Thank you all very much for your cooperation.
Fiat Voluntas Tua.
May Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless you,
1. GENERAL QUESTIONS
Q: Public Masses have been resumed with restrictions. Does that mean I have an obligation to attend Sunday Mass?
A: On March 16, 2020 Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted dispensed all Catholics residing in or visiting the Diocese of Phoenix from the obligation to attend Holy Mass. This general dispensation continues in force, so there is no obligation to attend the Sunday Mass in person.
Q: Is it a sin not to attend Mass while the general dispensation is in effect?
A: No, not attending Sunday Mass is not a sin in these circumstances.
Q: What does Bishop Olmsted recommend that I do?
A: Bishop Olmsted asks vulnerable persons (those over the age of 65 and/or with underlying chronic health concerns) to stay home.
Likewise, he encourages those who feel most secure at home to follow the Mass online.
For the well being of everyone, Bishop Olmsted asks those who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of illness remain at home.
Q: What does the Diocese of Phoenix recommend that I consider in making my decision?
A: Even with all precautionary measures taking place, we must still be mindful and aware that risk of exposure to the virus remains for those who attend and accept personal responsibility for our own health and safety.
Q: Father, what do you recommend as the pastor of St Anne?
A: I will repeat the first words that I shared with you in March when this problem began: “My purpose is not to avoid spreading the disease. I leave that to the provident hand of God, to the civil authorities, to the common sense and conscience of each person. Each one must choose in the presence of God and according to his personal circumstances what degree of exposure he wants to have to a possible contagion. Here at St. Anne, our goal is to give our families the opportunity to make the decisions they consider best for them in light of the virus.”
Q: Will Masses continue to be streamed on the Internet through our parish website?
A: Yes. Please click here for Mass times.
Q: Will Holy Communion continue to be distributed for one hour after the Sunday Mass as it has been in recent weeks for those who choose to follow the celebration online from home or the parking lot?
A: In the current circumstances it is not possible to continue offering this service for those who do not participate in person at the Masses in the parish. We invite those who are currently using this option to receive the Body of the Lord to come to the church during the distribution of Holy Communion at any of the Masses. They can follow the celebrations online from home or the parking lot and enter the church exclusively to receive Holy Communion. The dispensation from going to Sunday Mass that Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted extended to all Catholics in March is still in effect in our diocese.
2. SCHEDULING QUESTIONS
Q: What days and times will Masses be and in what languages?
A: There will be 3 vigil Masses on Saturday, at 3 pm and 4:30 pm in English and another at 6:30 pm in Spanish. Beginning June 7th, on Sunday, we will have Masses in English at 7 am, 8:30 am, 10 am, and 11:30 am. On Sunday, Mass in Spanish will be at 1 pm and 5:30 pm.
Q: At what time must I arrive at St. Anne to enter the church for the Holy Mass?
A: The church doors will open 30 minutes before the start of each Holy Mass. 10 minutes before the Holy Mass begins, all the attendees must be seated in their designated seats waiting for the beginning of the celebration. Please be punctual so that the celebrations may begin without delays or disturbance.
Q: At what time will Holy Communion be distributed for those who follow the celebration from home or in the parking lot?
A: The times for the distribution of Holy Communion will be during the Mass at the regular time for Communion.
3. TICKETING QUESTIONS
Q: Will I have to buy tickets for the Saturday afternoon or Sunday Mass?
A: No, there is no cost to attend the Holy Mass.
Q: How do I reserve tickets?
A: You simply follow this link: https://ticketor.com/stanne
Q: Is it necessary to bring the ticket with me to the parish?
A: Yes, it is necessary. There are two options: 1) print the ticket at home, or 2) have it available on your cell phone to present at the door.
Q: I don't know how to use the Internet. How can I get a ticket for Sunday Mass?
A: Those who are not able to obtain tickets online can call the parish office and staff will assist them in acquiring a ticket. The parish office phone number is 480-507-4400 and assistance will be available to our parishioners, in both English and Spanish, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 11 am.
Q: If I reserve my ticket by phone, will I need to bring a printed ticket with me to Mass or on the phone the day of the celebration?
A: People who reserve their ticket(s) by phone will receive all of the necessary information regarding their reservation at the time it is made: Mass time, number of seats, section and row and seat numbers. They are responsible to bring this information with them when they come for the Holy Mass and provide it to the volunteers who are at the door who will confirm it.
Q: I come to Mass by myself. Can I reserve an individual ticket?
A: Yes, you may reserve an individual ticket.
Q: Can families buy tickets for all of their family members at the same time? Will they be able to sit together in the same pew?
A: Families must reserve a ticket for each member of their family who will be occupying a seat. These tickets may all be reserved at the same time. Family members living in the same household may sit together in the same pew without safe distancing (6 feet) from one other.
Q: Are there places reserved for disabled people? Can those tickets be reserved through the same process?
A: Yes, there are seats designated for people with limited mobility and/or wheelchairs. Tickets for these seats can be reserved through the ticketing program and we ask that only those who need them, and their family members use them.
Q: What is the deadline to reserve tickets for the upcoming weekend?
A: The ticketing program will automatically close at 11 am on Saturdays. The system will reactivate the following week for the next weekend.
Q: I forgot to reserve my ticket. Does that mean I will not be able to attend Mass in the church?
A: At 1 pm on Saturday, the number of seats still available at each of the Masses will be posted on the parish website and on Flocknote. Those who have not reserved tickets, but wish to attend Mass that weekend, may come to the church 30 minutes prior to the Mass and attempt to fill one of the remaining available seats. The parish cannot guarantee that those without tickets can be accommodated in the church.
Q: What will the process be for those who did not reserve tickets?
A: There will be a designated line at the main entrance of the church specifically for those without tickets. After those with reserved tickets have entered the church, as many people as can be accommodated will be allowed to enter: first come, first served.
4. QUESTIONS ABOUT CHANGES IN THE LITURGY
Q: Has the Diocese of Phoenix established any changes in the liturgy?
A: Yes, Bishop Olmsted has asked for certain changes in the liturgy of the Holy Mass within the various alternatives offered by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and the authority granted to him in liturgical matters by the Code of Canon Law.
Q: What changes can I expect?
A: The Bishop’s decisions include the following:
- Social distancing in the pews of 6 feet between individuals who are not of the same family/household.
- Absence of altar servers and reduction in the number of liturgical ministers at each Holy Mass.
- No passing of offertory collection baskets during the Holy Mass (to make your donation, please follow the following link: https://stanneaz.org/#donationArea )
- Suspension of the offertory procession.
- Avoiding shaking/holding hands except for family members.
- Suspension of the Sign of Peace.
- Social distancing of 6 feet while waiting in line to receive Holy Communion.
- Separate lines depending on whether Holy Communion is received in the hand or on the tongue.
- Mandatory use of masks for the ministers of Holy Communion during the distribution of the Body of the Lord.
- The ministers of Holy Communion who distribute the Body of the Lord on the tongue must sanitize their hand after each person who receives Communion.
Q: Is communion allowed in the hand and on the tongue?
Q: Who decides which way a person receives Holy Communion?
A: The person who receives Holy Communion.
Q: What does the Bishop recommend about the reception of Holy Communion?
A: The Bishop says: “Recent scientific literature has made us aware that the COVID-19 virus is present in high concentrations in saliva that is why the salivary test is being made known and is being published in peer reviewed journals. With the distribution of Holy Communion on the tongue, it places the faithful, vulnerable people and ministers at risk if a minister were inadvertently to come into contact with saliva. Considering this new knowledge, Bishop Olmsted is asking to please encourage the faithful, for the time being, to receive in the hand. This shows no lack of reverence or understanding of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist. But it is important for the common good and the safety of the community.”
Q: Do I have to sit somewhere in particular to receive Holy Communion on the hand or on the tongue?
A: No, there will be lines for each way of receiving Holy Communion on both sides of the sanctuary. This information will be provided during the Mass at the time for reception of Holy Communion.
5. QUESTIONS ABOUT SANITARY MEASURES
Q: In addition to everything that has already been mentioned in the previous questions, are there any additional hygiene requirements from the Bishop?
A: The Diocese requests the suspension of hugs and handshakes before or after Holy Mass. In addition, it is requested that the dismissal of the people should be done in an orderly way to ensure distancing (6ft). Finally, the Diocese asks that people avoid gathering before or after Holy Mass.
Q: Are there any other added sanitary recommendations from the Bishop?
A: The Diocese strongly recommends minimizing contact with people and the use of masks is strongly recommended. Those who come to the parish are also encouraged to bring their own masks and hand sanitizer.
Q: Is the use of masks and/or gloves obligatory for the faithful who participate in the Holy Mass?
A: No, it is not mandatory for the faithful. It is left to the discretion of the individual. The use of masks is, however, mandatory for volunteers who are serving at the parish and for those who distribute Holy Communion.
6. FINAL QUESTIONS
Q: How long will this plan be in place for the Sunday Masses?
A: We anticipate that this plan will be in place for several months. Changes will be made as we refine the process and as the Diocese directs us.
A. M. D. G.