Dear Friends in Christ,

I recently wrote a pastoral letter encouraging people who are not in high risk groups to return to Mass, and for those who are returning to Mass to observe the recommendations of the CDC for social distancing, masking and sanitizing.  When we reopened, I made it clear that we would reassess some of our protocols and policies as we dealt with what works and what does not work.  The time for that reassessment has come and we have made a few decisions that I want you to be aware of.

All parish social events will be cancelled beginning 24 December until further notice.  There are a few events on the calendar until then that will take place as planned.  We are making tentative plans for a celebration on St Joseph’s Day in March, but there will not be anything at least until then.

In the PAC, those involved in parish athletic and ministry activities will receive notification from their leaders about new policies and protocols that go into effect immediately regarding the conditions under which those events and ministries can function.  The School, RE, CYO and Choirs all have done an excellent job of putting together a protocol for temperature taking, masking when social distancing is impossible, and sanitizing.  All other parish programs will be brought into alignment with those protocols.  Because each program functions a little differently, you will receive specific notifications about each one.  Failure to comply with the directives will mean that you will be asked to leave the property, and continued failure in this manner will mean the cessation of the specific ministry at this time.

In the church: Because our church is larger than many of the other Catholic churches in town, it provides greater possibility for social distancing.  When we came back to church, we asked people to responsibly distance themselves.  We have encouraged people to mask when inside the building, according to the CDC recommendations.  As more people come back to Mass, and social distancing becomes more challenging, it is more imperative to mask.  Of course, there are some people that have legitimate medical or practical reasons why masking is not possible, and it is important that we respect that.  However, it must be observed that, if masks are required in all enclosed public spaces in the area, it is reasonable to ask our people to mask unless they are otherwise unable to do so.

As COVID cases and deaths rise in Greenville County, we reserve the right to amend these instructions at any time.  In the meantime, let us pray for an end to this pandemic, for the protection of caregivers, for the sick and dying, and for the repose of the souls of all who have passed during this time.

Sincerely in Christ,

Father Christopher Smith, STD