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Bishop Rhodes celebrating Mass in the St. Francis Chapel

Guidelines for the Celebration of Mass and Other Liturgies

Guidelines for the Celebration of Mass and Other Liturgies at the University of Saint Francis

Updated March 23,2021

Public Masses in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend resumed on the weekend of May 23-24 in accordance with guidelines issued by the State of Indiana and those issued by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Because the sacramental life of the University depends on the office of the Bishop, all liturgies celebrated at the University of Saint Francis must follow these guidelines.

Note that if Allen County or the City of Fort Wayne issues more restrictive directives, these must also be closely followed per the Diocese.

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been extended indefinitely by the Indiana Bishops.

Strict Social Distancing

  • The state has not prescribed a specific numerical limit to the number of people who can attend indoor church services. However, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has stated that social distancing measures must be implemented in every parish/oratory to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • According to the state, this means ensuring “6 feet between individuals or family units of the same households during services.” Socially distanced seating is therefore the deciding factor for how many can be gathered in a church at one time.
  • To that end, every other pew in the St. Francis Chapel will be blocked off. Please do not sit in a pew that has been marked off.
    Although we will not mark off the chairs in the Trinity Hall Chapel or St. Clare Chapel, please maintain 6-foot intervals if you are praying in either of those spaces.
  • Campus Ministry staff will be keeping track of when the Chapel’s socially distanced capacity is reached during public liturgies. At that point, no additional people will be admitted into the building.
  • Social distancing measures should be observed when entering and exiting the chapel.

Other Health Protocols

  • Masks:
    • All congregants (except for infants and toddlers and those who would have trouble breathing) must wear face coverings out of concern for fellow attendees. As noted by health authorities, the use of masks is not primarily for our own protection, but for those around us.
    • Clergy and those assisting the liturgy in the sanctuary do not have to wear masks but must maintain 6-foot intervals.
    • Clergy will however wear a mask when distributing communion and when interacting with attendees before or after Mass.
    • Lectors should wear a mask while sitting among the congregation but will remove their masks to read from the ambo.
  • Cleaning:
    • Hand Sanitizers: Hand sanitizer will be available in the Chapel and restrooms will include soap for hand washing.
    • Holy Water fonts: It has been determined that transmission of COVID-19 does not occur through water, so Holy water fonts have been refilled and may be used.
  • Hymnals/handouts:
    • Handouts for congregational singing will be provided at Sunday Masses and other special feasts celebrated during the week.

Who Should Attend

  • If you have a cough or fever, or who may otherwise be feeling sick, you should not come to church for Mass or even for a visit.
  • Indiana’s health protocols for places of worship also advise “all individuals who are 65 and above or who have an underlying at-risk health condition to stay home.”
  • If a priest scheduled to celebrate Mass is sick or has been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, we may have to cancel Mass for that day or for an indefinite period of time.
  • If there is a localized outbreak of COVID-19 on campus, we will consult with the Vicar General and Bishop of the Diocese about the possibility of suspending public masses on campus.

Liturgical Measures and Considerations Surrounding Mass:

  • It has been determined that congregational signing with a mask is reasonably safe. Therefore, singing has resumed at our Sunday Masses and Masses for special feasts celebrated during the week, as long as congregants are wearing a face covering over their nose and mouth.
  • All should refrain from holding hands during the Our Father.
  • The Sign of Peace should not be given by the customary handshake. It could be exchanged without physical contact – for example, by a bow of the head. Or it can be omitted altogether.
  • Communion will only be distributed by the priest and only under the form of bread. The distribution of the Precious Blood to the people remains suspended until it is determined by the Bishop that it is safe to resume.
  • Those attending Mass may receive communion but those who are not comfortable doing so are under no obligation to receive and may therefore remain in their pews.
  • A distance of 6 feet must be maintained between individuals or family units in the Communion procession. Communion lines in the Chapel will be single file.
  • Receiving Communion on the tongue remains an option but receiving reverently on the hand it strongly encouraged.
  • The priest will sanitize his hands before and after distributing communion. He may also do so if he makes contact with anyone while distributing communion.

Sacraments & Other Liturgical Rites

  • Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will be scheduled once the Fall semester resumes, following all applicable stipulations noted above.
  • Confession: Confessions are held in the Confessional in the St. Francis Chapel. Both the priest and penitent are required to wear face coverings.
  • Weddings scheduled at the St. Francis Chapel will continue, incorporating all the applicable social distancing, health protocols, and liturgical measures noted above.

For further information regarding Diocesan guidelines, refer to the Directives for Conducting Public Liturgies in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend during the COVID-19 Pandemic.