Below are updates from Holy Sepulcher during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Opening up for Weekend Masses At Holy Sepulcher and Saint Kilian Parishes
Weekend Masses begin on June 13th at both Holy Sepulcher and Saint Kilian Churches. We will follow the normal Mass schedule and are implementing safety precautions during this time.
Where we are now (as of June 10, 2020)
Our churches are open daily for private prayer, weddings, baptisms and funerals (provided all the restrictions and directives are followed, including social distancing and 25% capacity). Daily Mass is also celebrated according to the schedule as it was before the pandemic. The Bishop has given permission for the celebration of weekend Masses at 25% of capacity. Use of this permission is a decision of each pastor. He must make the decision based on his commitment that the parish is prepared to open observing all the current restrictions of the Federal, State and local authorities.
What we as parishes have done to prepare?
- We have read all the relevant documents from the CDC, the Governor, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health and the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
- We have a small Corvid 19 work group to address the issues of the documents cited above
- We have designated sections of the churches and individual pews that may be used and not used. This is to facilitate social distancing at all times.
- We have provided the means by which those entering the church have access to hand sanitation.
- We have set in place a regular schedule of sanitizing the church including following each group gathering.
- We have placed signage indicating direction of the flow of traffic in and out of the church as well as indicating that restrooms may be used in emergency but must not be crowded.
- We have held an information/training session for those who will lead those assisting those attending Mass.
- In view of the above, we have begun to celebrate daily Masses as of June 8, 2020
Is it possible for our Parish to Celebrate Weekend Masses?
- The guidelines insist that social distancing must always be observed (six foot between individuals or family groups). Fulfilling that directive means that likely we will not be able to accommodate more than 25% of capacity at any Mass
- Considering all the relevant factors, we feel able to begin the celebration of weekend Masses on the Weekend of June 13-14.
- We do so assuming that parishioners and others will use common sense and observe all the restrictions and guidelines provided.
What should you do Before you come to Mass?
- The bishop has continued until further notice his dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holydays. That means you are NOT required to attend Mass on weekends during this pandemic.
- If for whatever reason you are uncomfortable attending Mass at this time, please do not feel obligated to do so. If you feel uncomfortable attending a weekend Mass, please consider attending a weekday Mass (where there will likely be less in attendance).
- All the guidelines direct you to stay home if you are sick for whatever reason. Christian charity directs you to care about others as you care for yourself. Do not risk spreading disease in this challenging time.
- Even if you are ill because of a common cold or affected by allergies, the symptoms of coughing and sneezing are dangerous and people hearing and seeing this will be understandably anxious if you are seated near them. Please use prudence and charity.
What should you do as you enter the church?
- Please make yourself aware of the directions and restrictions
- Please follow the directions of the greeters and ushers
- Pleases use hand sanitizer as you enter the body of the church. It is helpful if you bring your own personal supply, but it will also be provided.
- If this is going to work, patience and common sense will be needed. There should be assistance in seating people. But you should not expect to sit on the end of a pew and “claim it” so that no one else can enter. The pews are long enough for more than one person to be seated at an appropriate distance. Please think of others.What to expect as you come to Mass
- If you choose to attend Mass, you are directed to wear a face covering and remain at least six feet apart from others (or other family groupings).
- We also ask that you enter by the center doors and leave by the side doors of the church to minimize contact.
- Means of hand sanitizing are available and we ask you to make use of them on entering church.
- Only certain pews (as indicated) will now be in use to facilitate social distancing.
- The clergy will not be greeting people after Mass as a precaution
- People are asked not to gather in groups after Mass or at least to maintain social distancing.
- Be careful not to crowd restrooms.
- Directives indicate that we are to remove all printed material from the pews during the pandemic.
- Music will not be provided at Masses so that the length of Mass will be shorter to reduce time spent in a large group and to facilitate sanitizing between Masses.
- The Eucharist will be distributed in the hand. While you have a right to receive on the tongue, those who are distributing the Eucharist have a right to life. And placing their fingers at your mouth may endanger their life and those they love. This is a temporary measure enacted in prudence during a worldwide pandemic.
- The priest or deacon will not be asking that you share the sign of peace.
- There will not be any opportunity to provide reception of Holy Communion from the cup.
- The Diocese has instructed that the distribution of Holy Communion take place AFTER the Mass is ended to facilitate an orderly and safe departure from Mass. You will be directed by the ushers as to how this take place. Social distancing must be observed as you line up.
What happens if the church is at capacity when I arrive?
The church reaches capacity when people are no longer able to be socially distant from one another. Depending of the group (single or family) that generally means 25% of the capacity.
If that occurs, you will be asked to return to your car. You may remain there and pray. As you see people leave Mass, assume that Mass is concluded, and Holy Communion has begun. As people leave, feel free to enter and get in line to receive Holy Communion.
Why don’t we have some system of “signing up” for weekend Masses?
We are afraid that such a system would not be practical. Many people are not familiar or comfortable with “sign up” systems. Some do not have computer access or familiarity. Many are just used to showing up for Mass. Some who sign up experience personal events and are unable to attend and their “reserved” seats are empty because others assumed the church was full.
What if I want to pray after Mass?
- You are asked to leave and not remain for private prayer.
- Leave by side doors
- The Church will be sanitized between Masses
What if I am unable to attend weekend or daily Mass because I am at high risk or just do not feel comfortable doing so? How can I receive the Eucharist?
During the pandemic, we hope to have a Communion Service each weekday (Monday-Friday) at noon in each Church. This will involve a very brief prayer and the distribution of Holy Communion.
Will the You Tube video Mass still be available on weekends?
Yes, we are aware that many people have found it helpful. We will continue to provide this option during the pandemic.
Opening our Churches, a message from Fr. Bober
As many have read, our parishes are in the Yellow phase of the Governor's schedule of opening. Considering the guidelines for that phase (Governor’s phases), Bishop Zubik has also issued guidelines that apply to parishes.
Many people have read the headlines and believe that the Bishop has “opened our churches.” That is NOT what the Bishop said to the priests. He told us that pastors MAY open churches for private prayer and Confession. However, very detailed strict directives are in place as to what first must be done to do so. If those directives are not in place, pastors are NOT to open their churches.
The parish priests and staffs of our parishes have read the Bishop’s 43-page guide to “opening.” We have made every reasonable attempt to comply with those directives. As your pastor, I believe that we can open our churches FOR PRIVATE PRAYER, beginning Monday, May 18, 2020. However, I am doing so trusting that everyone who enters understand the restrictions that must be observed.
The basic restrictions and directives are these:
- If you are sick (with any illness), have a high fever or are in any other way at risk, stay home and do not come into the churches at this time.
- If you do visit the churches, please use sanitizer as you enter and as you leave.
- Touch as little as possible when you are there.
Specific restrictions include:
- Individuals are to wear a mask inside of the church (individuals under two years of age should not wear a mask).
- No more that 25 people may be in the church at one time.
- If there are 25 people in church, please do not enter until someone has left.
- Please refrain from using the restrooms, but if necessary, only one person may be using it at one time.
Times when churches will be open
In general, we are planning to open our churches according to this schedule:
Sunday through Friday - 7:00 am until 11:00 am and 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm.
Saturdays - 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm.
This schedule was designed to provide time for funerals as well as recording materials to be broadcast on our YouTube channel as well as enabling us to sanitize the churches appropriately each day.
There are days when the schedule will be shortened because of funerals and recording. Those days will be conveyed as it soon as we know by means of Flocknote emails. Please note that this will change often due to unpredictable events (such as funerals).
This schedule should be considered interim. It will likely change as the directives of the Governor and the Bishop change.
The opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be provide each Saturday from noon until 1:00 p.m. in each church. This schedule is in place to accommodate both funerals and weddings. Please follow the directions you find in each church. Please note, the Bishop’s directives indicate that the priest and the penitent must remain six feet apart and that the penitent should remain standing (there will be no chairs or kneelers in order to facilitate sanitizing). There will be a screen available or you may stand facing the priest.
Penitents are reminded that as they wait, they must be six feet apart from others. The Bishop’s directives also indicate that the doors of the confessional rooms must remain open. We make every attempt to keep those waiting away from the door and plan to play soft music to muffle the sound of voices. Penitents are required to wear a mask while inside the church and when in the confessional.
Candles are available to light in each church. When lighting the candles, please wear the disposable gloves available near the candle racks as you handle the wooden sticks used to light the candles. Place the used gloves in the container near the candle racks.
Diocesan Directives issued March 28, 2020
Bishop Zubik has issued the following directives, a link to his full letter is below:
All opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in churches or church parking lots are immediately suspended at all parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
All church buildings in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are to be locked until further notice, due to the fact that we are told that the virus can live on surfaces for an extended period of time.
All Funeral Masses or services in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, inclusive of those at funeral homes, are immediately cancelled until further notice. Direct burials of the deceased should be celebrated with memorial Masses to occur at a later time.
All Baptism ceremonies in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are suspended immediately and until further notice. In cases of emergency (in danger of death), people should contact their priest for guidance.
All Wedding ceremonies in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are suspended immediately and until further notice. Parishes will be working directly with all couples who have scheduled weddings.
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick may occur only in the case of immediate danger of death.
The Parish Administrative and Educational Offices are CLOSED until at least March 29th.
The entire pairsh staff wants to cintiue to assist you within the limits imposed by the spread of Coronavirus. Access to the parish staff is best done through email. Click HERE for a list of staff with emails. They will respond to any concern or request as soon as possible.
There are parish bulletins available at the church on the table in the Narthex. You can also view the bulletin online HERE.
While public Masses have been cancelled, please know the church is open for private prayer to those wishing to come inside and pray (7am-7pm).
A taped, weekly Mass with Father Bober will be available online on Saturday's beginning at 4pm during this time of precaution (click here).
The Bishop has granted weekly Mass dispensation.
Below is information regarding the celebration of the sacraments in our parishes. These are in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Diocese of Pittsburgh and current as of March 16, 2020. These guidelines are effective until further notice.
Weekday and Weekend Masses
All weekday and weekend Masses are canceled until further notice. The bishop also is dispensing the faithful of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.
In order to limit any potential spread of the virus to a vulnerable population, only a small private family baptism should be held. Multiple baptisms of several children from different families is not permitted. When you submit your request for baptism, if a baptism has already been scheduled for that day at 11:30 am in Holy Sepulcher Church or 1 pm in Saint Kilian Church, you will be contacted with options for alternative times that day (we are scheduling baptisms 30 minutes apart to allow for the celebration of the rite and for families to depart and arrive with minimal crossover). Baptisms currently scheduled through April will be contacted to adjust the time of their celebration if multiple baptisms were scheduled.
Funerals and Weddings
Until further notice, weddings and funerals may proceed but attendance should be limited to immediate family. Compliance with all state and local government-imposed restrictions on the number of people at public gatherings are to be obeyed.
Sacrament of Confirmation
All scheduled confirmations for the month of March are postponed and will be scheduled at a date in the future. Confirmation dates after April 1, 2020 will be determined in the future depending on the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus. Currently, Saint Kilian and Holy Sepulcher Parishes are scheduled to celebrate Confirmation on May 9, 2020. We are proceeding under the assumption that date will remain as scheduled until notified differently by the diocese.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Light is on for You, scheduled for April 1, 2020 has been cancelled. The priests are planning for ways to provide this sacrament in a way consistent with the necessary precautions in place during the world-wide pandemic. Please consult the parish website for details.
First Holy Communions
The diocese indicates that dates for First Communion held after April 1, 2020 will be determined in the future depending on the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus. Currently, Holy Sepulcher and Saint Kilian Parishes have scheduled First Communions beginning after Easter. We are proceeding with our current schedule until notified otherwise by the diocese.
Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick
Communal celebration of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is to be suspended until further notice. Individuals desiring to receive this Sacrament should contact the parish office (by email for the quickest reply) and you will be contacted as to how that can be arranged. Hospitals and nursing homes with contracted chaplains will provide the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to patients in those facilities, since those chaplains are prepared by the institution as to the requirements in dealing with their patients.
Holy Week will be upon us beginning on April 4, 2020. At this time, the diocese is preparing contingency plans should public Holy Week Liturgies be suspended. Further details will be forthcoming.
Faith Formation Classes
All Faith Formation Classes are canceled for the remainder of the current 2019-2020 school year for both Saint Kilian and Holy Sepulcher Parishes. Parents will receive emails containing resources and information to help complete the remaining lessons at home with your children.
Now more than ever, we need to support one another with our prayers. Please consider joining our Parish Email Prayer Ministry. Email Deacon Ralph at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to this prayer ministry.
STAY CONNECTED BY FLOCKNOTE
Our parishes use the Flocknote service to provide timely text and email communications. You must opt-in to join and can do so at https://HSandSK.flocknote.com or by texting the word “servant” to 84576. Subscribe today to keep updated on the latest news on how the coronavirus precautions impact our parish life. Also, you can sign up for many different emails based on your interest and involvement in ministry.
Parish Events and Activities
In compliance with the requests of governmental leaders and sound medical practice, the parish must cancel all scheduled events until further notice.
Church Buildings Open for Private Prayer
Our churches will remain open for private prayer, however, there will be no scheduled “services” that would bring people together at a specific time. Social distancing must be maintained if attending church for private prayer. During Lent, Station of the Cross Booklets will be available for your private prayer. Saint Kilian and Holy Sepulcher Churches will remain open daily from 7 am until 7 pm. However, maintenance and special projects may be underway in the church.
Fr. Bober to video tape Sunday Mass
Each week, during the period that weekend Masses remain canceled, Fr. Bober will video tape the Sunday Mass. Join us each Sunday for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and a homily that will speak to your heart and inspire your faith. The Sunday Mass will available online each Saturday beginning at 4 pm at this link - http://saintkilianparish.podbean.com/. You can also download the Podbean Podcast App for your Apple or Android devices.
Day of Prayer – March 25th
Bishop Zubik is calling for a special day of prayer in the Diocese of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Feast of the Annunciation, a great feast of the Blessed Mother. More information will be forthcoming.
Weekday and Weekend Mass Intentions
While the celebration of public Masses has been canceled, our four priests are permitted to celebrate private daily Mass. Therefore, the Mass intentions scheduled for weekday and weekend Masses will be fulfilled and those intentions remembered during their celebration of these Masses.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of all Masses until further notice - however; the church will be open to those wishing to come inside and pray.
The cancellation also includes all religious education, groups, ministries and outreach - again, until further notice (but at least until April).
Bishop David Zubik is dispensing the faithful of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
Letter from Fr. Bober - Coronavirus Announcement
As we work to navigate the ever-changing challenges of dealing with the various impacts of the Coronavirus on our parishes and their ministries, I am writing this to update you on what we know and what we are planning for the near term.
Most importantly, please pray all those personally affected by this virus and for a swift end to this crisis. Until directed otherwise, we will celebrate the sacraments and provide time for personal prayer in our churches.
In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and in light of the directive of the Governor of the State of Pennsylvania, all diocesan schools (K-12) will be closed from Monday March 16th until and including Friday, March 27, 2020. Beyond this date, any additional directives or guidance will be shared as it becomes available. The hope is to return to classes on Monday, March 30th.
Religious education and youth ministry activities are cancelled until and including, Sunday, March 29th.
As parishes, in an effort to respond to this health emergency, we are cancelling ALL scheduled activities at both Holy Sepulcher and Saint Kilian parish locations for two weeks, beginning Monday, March 16th to Friday, March 27th. At the present time, this does NOT include the cancellation of any Sunday or weekday Masses. Unless directed otherwise, Friday evening adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Stations will continue. Fish fry’s will continue as take place as take-out operations only.
The custodial staffs of both parishes will be working during this time to deep clean and disinfect all areas of our facilities.
As you know, this health crisis continues to evolve. Please watch the parish websites and bulletins for updated details.
Fr. Charles Bober