We have been so blessed to be able to offer daily Mass as well as three weekend Masses since we were certified by the Archdiocese to re-open our church in June during this pandemic. One of the requirements to re-open was to have sufficient parish volunteers to provide the care necessary to gather in church for the celebration of the sacraments. We began with about 30 regular volunteers over the summer, however, that number has dwindled to just seven volunteers who regularly and generously offer their time to care for us and enable us to celebrate the sacraments as often as we do. Some of our volunteers are present at multiple Masses over every weekend so that we could continue three weekend Masses!
Perhaps due to the state-wide and city-wide increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the COVID virus, the number of attendees at our Masses has decreased somewhat and we hesitate to reduce the number of weekend Masses accordingly. However, without additional volunteers coming forward in the next two weeks, we will have to reduce our weekend Mass schedule by one Mass, given the decreased attendance and lack of sufficient volunteers. None of us desire this amended schedule but we urgently need more volunteers to help ensure our health and well-being when we come to the church. In addition, the more volunteers we have helps share the burden and will give our current volunteers a much needed and well-deserved break.
With Christmas coming up quickly, we simply do not have enough volunteers to offer as many Masses Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as we would like. The number of Christmas Masses will be contingent upon the number of volunteers we have to safely care for us in what we would expect to be a “full church” with safe distancing limiting our capacity to 100 at each Mass. We need at least six volunteers at each weekend Mass and eight volunteers for Christmas Masses, following the guidelines of contact tracing (checking the names of those registered at each Mass as well as adding the information for walk-ins), ushering, seating people in pews, spritzing hands with sanitizer upon entry into the church and before receiving Communion, sanitizing pews after each Mass and opening and closing doors and windows for proper ventilation.
Our goal is to have 20 new volunteers come forward by Friday, December 11, to be available for training (which includes a one hour webinar and at least one “dry run” at a weekend Mass with some experienced volunteers who can share their wisdom with you.) I expect to announce a Christmas Mass schedule the week of December 14, once we know the number of volunteers available, and make signing up for Christmas Mass available then.
Ideally, volunteers are: 18+ years of age, in good health, willing to complete the required training, cheerful and welcoming in disposition, and available to volunteer at least twice a month. Please consider this a prayerful invitation and if you are interested in learning more, please contact Deacon Kurt Davis, by calling the parish office at 773/324-2626 or preferably by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your generosity of time, talent and treasure given back to our Lord through your parish service! This time of year calls us all to patience and generosity, and I am grateful to be the recipient of yours in my time with you, which has been so delightful, I might add! And all of us who have been able to worship in church since the summer re-opening are most grateful to our volunteers! God bless them and God bless you!
Fr. Dan Costello