Resumption of Public Masses

UPDATE: 5/14/2021

In light of the most recent CDC new guidelines and within the directive of our Archdiocese, our parish leadership team, in consultation with the pastor, have decided that our current protocols will not change: Masks are still required for everyone in our buildings.   

Public Masses resumed on Saturday, May 30, 2020

Letter from the Pastor

May 18, 2020 (updated on March 14, 2021)

Dear friends in Christ,

It is with great joy that I am able to announce that as of this week the Archdiocese of Atlanta, under the direction of our new Archbishop, Greg Hartmayer, has granted us permission to begin the reopening of public Masses!  Our first public Mass at St. Andrew will be at the new time of 4:00 PM Vigil, on Saturday, May 30 – a very fitting date as we gather to celebrate Pentecost --- the birthday of the church!

While we all are excited about gathering once again as the Body of Christ, we must recognize that our Masses will look and feel somewhat different. Additionally at this time, due to health and distancing concerns that continue for so many, there is no obligation to attend Mass through June 28, 2020.  And so, our streaming of Masses will remain available each week in English and Spanish.

With precautionary procedures (as indicated by the CDC) and to allow enough time for cleaning and disinfecting between Masses, our NEW schedule for Sunday Masses going forward will begin with the celebration of two Vigil Masses on Saturdays --- 4:00 PM (English) and 7:00 PM (Spanish).  On Sundays, our schedule will be 7:30 AM (Spanish), and in English 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM.

Starting the week of June 1, our public daily Masses will resume at 9:00 AM Mondays (now designated as a seniors only Mass – for parishioners over 60), as well as Thursdays and Fridays and then on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM (Spanish), all in the main church.  Because of the limitations on available seating on Sundays, we encourage parishioners to consider attending a weekday liturgy as an alternative. 

As part of Phase 1 of our parish reopening we will have many new protocols that all parishioners must follow to attend Mass. These procedures will be reevaluated weekly. If you would like to attend Mass please read through this communication – we thank you for your patience and compliance. 

Capacity & Seating Availability --
• For now, Masses will be limited to 25% capacity across the Archdiocese. For St. Andrew,   that equates to approximatley 150 people in our main sanctuary per Mass.  
• Because it may be impossible to accommodate all our parishioners for weekend Masses, attendance will be on a “first come first seated” basis --- beginning 30 minutes prior to each Mass.  So, we encourage parishioners to arrive early for our weekend liturgies.
•  Due to the necessity to wipe down the pews and other high-touch surfaces in the church between each Mass, entrance to the church will be through the narthex only.  (Note: mobility challenged parishioners are encouraged to use the entry through the glass corridor from the street side of the building – which leads to the narthex.) 

Before You Arrive --
• Wash your hands. 
• For ages 2 and up (per CDC guidelines), face coverings are required on campus and for the duration of Mass.
•  NOTE: If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick or is immune compromised, for your sake and that of all in attendance, we ask that you please stay at home.   
Bring your own hand sanitizer that can be used before receiving Holy Communion.
• Do NOT bring items that contain bleach into the sanctuary as this will damage the pews. 

Arrival Procedures --
Masks (for ages 2+) should be worn as soon as you exit your vehicle.
• Arrive 30 minutes before Mass begins to stand in line to enter through the narthex, with an emphasis on social distancing, per household --- as marked clearly with tape.  
 NOTE: The side doors to the north and south transepts will not be open for entry access. 
• The main doors leading to the narthex will open 30 minutes prior to the start of Mass.
• Our designated parish volunteers will seat your household similar to boarding an airplane. 
• The church will be seated to fill the open pews from front to back --- every third pew.  The pews between each open pew will be closed-off with red cord.
• Seating preference cannot be accomplished at this time.  You are asked to please follow the directives of our volunteer ministers.
• You may be sharing a pew with another household, but social distance (6 ft) is required between the households – which may be an individual, a couple or multiple members of a family. 
• The center sections will be seated first followed by the two transepts. 
• The holy water fonts remain empty.
• Again, we encourage early arrival --- with the doors opening 30 minutes before each Mass.

Mass Procedures --
• Masses will be conducted as you have seen on the YouTube Stream with reduced volunteer lay ministers. There will be limited use of altar servers, choirs, and lay sacristans.
• Only trained leaders will serve as ushers until further notice. 
• The Holy Eucharist will be distributed in the hand only.
• Please keep your face mask on for the duration of Mass – except when receiving the Eucharist. 
• There is to be no physical contact between households -- at the Sign of Peace or hand holding during the Lord's Prayer.
• Baskets will not be passed during the offertory.  You will be able to place your weekly gift in a basket as you exit the church, but we strongly encourage online giving through our website

Communion Procedures --
• The bishops of Georgia have mandated that Communion not be distributed on the tongue under any circumstance for the time being. (The precious blood will not be distributed.)
• Use of personal hand sanitizer before Communion is strongly encouraged.
• There will be Communion lines on the side aisles. Trained parish volunteers will assist in ushering each section. 
• NOTE: Masks should be worn in the Communion line. After the priest presents you with Communion please step to the side, remove your mask, consume the Eucharist, and then replace your mask as you head back to your pew.

Departure Procedures --
• After the final blessing, parishioners must remain in their pew. 
• Pews will be dismissed in an orderly fashion starting in the rear of the church and then moving forward. This will be similar to how you exit an airplane (without crowding in the aisles.) 
• You must exit your pew when prompted. Private prayer is not available after Sunday Masses to allow the church to be reset for the next Mass. 
• All exits of the church will be utilized during departure. 
• You can drop your weekly offertory as you depart. 
• Clergy will not shake hands in the narthex/plaza. They will wave as you exit. 
• As difficult as this may be --- Please do not congregate outside but head directly to your vehicle to allow the next Mass to start on time. 

Church Cleaning Procedures --
• We will continue to implement cleanliness and sanitization practices, including disinfecting pews between every Mass.
• Disinfecting bathrooms, door handles, and other frequently touched surfaces will occur throughout the day. 
• Parish staff / designated volunteers will be required to wear face masks and wash hands. 

You are reminded to follow CDC recommendations regarding your own health. If you fall into an "at risk" category, or if you are not feeling well for any reason, we ask that you please stay home and join us through our YouTube video stream – the link will continue to be sent out weekly.

As you can see, liturgy is our main priority at this time.  Confessions remain available through appointments during the week.  At this time, private prayer and Adoration remain closed. The St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry and outreach remains operational. Our staff will continue to be available by phone/text, which will be monitored regularly throughout the week.  Please watch our bulletin/website for announcements concerning all other campus activities, as we work to gradually bring them back. 

Any weddings and funerals that are scheduled would adhere to the above protocols. 

Additional information will be forthcoming regarding the St. Andrew plans for the celebration of other sacraments of initiation (Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmation).

On behalf of the entire staff and clergy, we look forward to seeing our many parishioners in the weeks to come.  To that end, I ask for your prayers and patience as we continue to strive to be the active, warm and friendly Eucharistic-centered congregation that we have always been.  

Prayerfully in Christ, 

Fr. Dan Fleming
Pax et bonum!

Stay safe.  Stay prayerful.  Stay healthy!