The Diocese of Greensburg will allow parishes to recommence Mass on June 1, Bishop Edward C. Malesic announced May 18.
Malesic noted, however, that returning to Mass and other liturgies will include notable changes as parishioners will be required to wear masks and remain 6 feet apart. Additionally, the sign of peace will no longer include a handshake, and holy water and baptismal fonts will be drained.
“We might find that other practices need to be altered as well as we learn to live in this ‘new normal’ for the time being. Our clergy, my staff and I will do everything we can to help you understand these changes and remind you that we must always proceed with caution, empathy, understanding and faith,” Malesic said.
Recently, Malesic established a Committee for Recommencing In-Person Worship and Operations. This group of clergy and lay leaders was tasked with determining guidelines and a timeline for reopening church buildings for prayer and worship. In the first wave of its plan, the committee developed guidelines for reopening churches for private prayer on May 15. The guidelines include mandates for cleaning and sanitization.
“For the foreseeable future, all people will remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays. I ask that you make your own prudent and informed decision on whether to attend Sunday Mass or not, after taking your own situation into account.
“You should especially use this dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass at this time if you are elderly or have a medical condition that puts you at greater risk for serious complications from this disease,” Malesic said.
• Those who feel vulnerable because of their age or health are encouraged to stay home, while those who are sick should not attend public Masses. Streaming Masses will continue.
• People will be seated at least in every other pew using social distancing guidelines.
• All communicants will be encouraged to receive the Sacred Host in the hand.
• The chalice of the Precious Blood will not be offered to the congregation.
• The sign of peace will no longer include a handshake, instead we will turn to the person next to us and offer a reverential bow.
• Musicians are being asked to limit music, and choirs are not permitted.
• At the discretion of the pastor, Masses are permitted in social halls, other large spaces and outdoors including parking lots.
Bishop Malesic encourages people to stay connected to their faith by watching a streaming Mass or by visiting TheAccent Online.org regularly to read the latest news, checking the diocese website, or signing up for text alerts by texting the word FAITH to the number (724) 305-3057.
SALTSBURG POOL CLOSED
Officials with Saltsburg’s public pool have announced that it will not open for the 2020 swimming season.
A post on the pool’s Facebook page said the decision was made in part because of safety regulations that would need to be in place due to the pandemic.
In addition, donations are down and fundraisers are “difficult to do at this time.”
The pool also needs updates, the post said.
“We hope you understand and continue to support the pool,” it said. “We will see you all next year!”
FALLS STILL CLOSED
Indiana County Parks & Trails is reminding residents and visitors ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend that the Buttermilk Falls Natural Area in West Wheatfield Township remains closed.
The closure involves the entire site, including the hiking trail and the steps and platforms leading to the falls.
Due to the confined nature of the steps and platforms leading to the falls, it is not possible to provide safe physical distancing.
Other county parks and trails where physical distancing is possible are open.
Permanent restrooms are closed, but in some locations portable toilets are being provided.
Information on parks and trails that remain open is available at www.indianacountyparks.org.
MEMORIAL DAY SERVICE CANCELED
Due to the pandemic, Memorial Day services at Pine Church Cemetery in Rossiter have been canceled. If so desired, donations for cemetery upkeep can be sent to Jane States, 2140 Locust Road, Rochester Mills, PA 15771.