As I write this, it is expected that by Friday, June 11th, the Governor will announce that the State of Illinois will be entering Phase 5 in the coronavirus recovery plan. This means the state will be re-opening to “business as usual” as it was prior to the pandemic shutdown which occurred in March of 2020. The introduction of effective vaccines has made it possible to conclude that there will be no more need for masks, contact tracing or social distancing.
What will happen at St. Theresa Parish beginning the weekend of June 12-13?
- Mask wearing will become optional. If you are more comfortable wearing a mask, you are welcome to do so. Also, if you are unvaccinated you are asked to continue to wear a mask. People will NOT be checked for vaccination status in this parish. Rather, we are asking you to be accountable for your vaccination status. Finally, families are always welcome. It will be a family decision for their children under 12 to wear masks in church.
- Social distancing will no longer be required and the ropes which separate our pews will be removed. As a result, you will no longer need to be pre-registered prior to Mass and you will be free to seat yourself when you arrive in church. We are going to be reserving the section of seats adjacent to the St. Joseph Shrine for those people who would be more comfortable wearing masks and being socially distant from each other. I would ask that all people who sit in that section be respectful of that. Not everyone is comfortable yet returning to pre-pandemic norms. I want everyone to feel welcome to worship at St. Theresa.
- We will continue to ask you to sanitize your hands as you come into church but will not sanitize your hands prior to the reception of communion. If you carry your own hand sanitizer, you are welcome to self-clean before receiving the Eucharist. As a result, those who wish to receive communion on the tongue will no longer be asked to segregate themselves at the back of the line, unless they are seated in the section by the St. Joseph Shrine.
- There will no longer be any restrictions on singing in church and in fact you are greatly encouraged to sing, sing, sing!!! It has been way too long! Joyfully lift your voices in prayer to God! If this pandemic has reminded me of anything it is how much I have missed hearing our congregation sing. Our hymnals have already been returned to the pews to aid in your musical participation.
- The Benton Street doors will be opened for entrance and exit once again and the Benton Street lot will also be available for parking. Please do not park in designated “no parking” zones. The two side doors by the Adoration Chapel will remain locked during construction.
It will take several weeks for our liturgical ministries to return to normal. Please be patient with that.
I have no idea when the Archdiocese will authorize parishes to return to offering the Eucharist via the reception of the Precious Blood. I wouldn’t be surprised if it may be several months before that will happen again.
With the opening-up of churches once again, I would imagine that Cardinal Cupich will re-instate the requirement that all Catholics must attend weekly Mass once again to avoid committing a mortal sin. Once that happens, we will no longer be able to offer communion in church to those who attend Mass via the livestream on Sunday. However, we will continue to livestream our daily Masses at 9:00 am and our Sunday Mass at 11:30 am for those who cannot attend Mass in person. Once the obligation to attend weekly Mass is re-instated, we will return to livestreaming the 10:00 am Mass on Sunday and no longer livestream the 11:30 am Mass.
Daily Mass will remain at 9:00 am during the construction of the Adoration Chapel. We will return to two daily Masses after Labor Day. We are still discussing what times those will be and let you know when a decision has been reached.
Confessions have returned to the confessionals each Saturday from 12:00 – 1:30 pm and the portable confessional screens will no longer be required. However, for the time being, we will not be offering confession in the face-to-face option.
Eucharistic Adoration will continue in the Bernardin Room at the currently designated times until September 8th. After that, Eucharistic Adoration will begin in our newly dedicated Holy Face of Jesus Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Stay tuned for details on that!
We will keep the parish closed to on-site meetings until after the Labor Day holiday, with the exception of School, Religious Education and LIFT related functions in August. There is a reduced meeting schedule in summer to begin with, and this allows our staff to get the buildings ready for re-opening.
I would like to conclude by thanking the Parish Pastoral Staff, our COVID-19 Leadership Team and our volunteers who have done so much work during the pandemic to keep our parish open and safe for the people who have come. Words cannot express my gratitude!
May God bless you all.
Message from Cardinal Cupich: Reopening of our Churches – May 13, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
These fifty days of Easter, leading to Pentecost, are marked by unprecedented suffering, as humanity has fallen victim to a perilous contagion. In addition to the threats to our physical well-being, we are suffering spiritually as the Covid-19 pandemic has required restrictions of our worship and active participation in the sacramental life of the Church. Surely, there have been moments in history when governments and rulers have persecuted Christians and banned their public worship. This is not one of them. Rather, the present restrictions come in response to an extreme medical emergency as local, state and federal authorities – specifically public health officials – legitimately fulfill their responsibilities to safeguard human life and the common good. They have based their reasonable guidance on careful consideration of empirical data and the best available disease-mitigation practices as they seek to contain the pandemic’s rampage through our communities.
While everyone must exercise good citizenship in observing these restrictions, I call on the Catholic faithful, as advocates for justice and charity, to comply with these regulations. From the first pages of Scripture we learn that we indeed are “our brother’s keeper,” a truth that must inspire us as we are called to sacrifice. We should also be motivated to cooperate with public safety norms, given our reverence for life and human dignity. This is, at its heart, a moment to proclaim the breadth and depth of what it means to be pro-life, particularly as this virus preys on the most vulnerable in our midst.
The good news is that a plan for a gradual reopening of our churches has now taken shape, as I note below. However, since our movements will be restricted as that plan unfolds in different phases, your pastors and bishops will continue for the present time to offer Mass in private each day and to live-stream and broadcast Masses from our parishes and the archdiocese. I am particularly grateful to ABC-TV, Univision and Polvision in Chicago for giving us airtime every Sunday. These celebrations surely are not the same as gathering in our churches for Mass, but I know from hearing from many parishioners that they provide a great deal of solace and support in this time of uncertainty.
We must be honest. We expect this situation to continue for some weeks, and any plan for reopening our Churches for public worship must include every precaution to ensure public gatherings do not create a second wave of contagion, thus squandering the gains made through our sacrifice in these days.
With those realities in mind, I am heartened to announce that the Catholic Bishops of Illinois have reached an agreement with the Office of the Governor on a multi-phase Plan for re-opening our churches for the celebration of the sacraments, private prayer, adoration and Mass. As I share the Plan with you, I want to assure you of my prayers for you and your family’s personal, material and spiritual well-being. I also express my appreciation to the many people on the archdiocesan staff and in the Office of the Governor for the many hours they have given to designing and fine tuning this agreement. Again, I call on all Catholics to seize this moment to exercise faith-filled citizenship in a way that reflects our deep regard for life, our calling as disciples of Jesus and our love of country.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich
More specific information for St. Theresa Parish will be shared in the coming days.