Statement of Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez Regarding Reinstating the Obligation to Attend Sunday Mass
“We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 in as individuals and families. It has been a time of acute hardship and struggle, of separation and isolation. It has also had an impact on our lives of faith. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has been with us throughout this challenging period and is most especially near to us when we encounter him in the Eucharist. The Eucharist offers us His healing and peace, His mercy and reconciliation. It is now time for everyone to return to the Eucharist with renewed faith and joy.
As many aspects of life are now returning to normalcy, each Catholic Bishop in Pennsylvania will reinstate the obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays and Holy Days beginning on Sunday, August 15, 2021, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Bishops previously jointly decided to dispense the faithful from this obligation in March of 2020 in order to provide for the common good given concerns over the developing pandemic. Now, with the impact of the pandemic considerably reduced, it is again possible for the faithful to assemble for the Eucharist. It is time to lift the dispensation from the obligation.
This obligation, as is always the case, does not apply to those who are seriously ill, have a serious health risk, as well as those who have serious anxiety about being a part of large groups at this time. Likewise, the obligation does not apply to those who care for those who cannot attend Mass in person (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2181).
A Slight Change, But a Welcomed Convenience!
We will no longer be live-streaming our 12 noon Mass. We will now be recording the 5:00 pm Saturday evening Mass, which will be available for viewing after 8:00 pm Saturday evening.
Parishioners will now be able to view the mass at their convenience, starting at 8:00 pm Saturday evening and any time after that – including anytime on Sunday.
With this slight change, we are hoping more parishioners who are not yet comfortable with returning the Mass in person, will participate with us through the recorded Liturgy.
Just a reminder, the address for the Mass, which lists all the recording Masses we have recorded thus far, is: bit.ly/saintephrembensalem
***We have joyfully begun welcoming parishioners back to our Parish for the celebration of Mass!!***
For the time being, parishioners are welcome to join us for Sunday Masses at 5:00pm on Saturday evening; and, on Sunday morning at 7:30am and 10:30am and Sunday at 12 noon.
Beginning the weekend of May 15/16th, we will restore our votive lamps to the back of the Church for personal use. There will be hand sanitizer available near the votive lamps for anyone who may wish to use it.
Also on the weekend of May 15/16th, we will be removing the ropes from our pews. We ask that all who join us for Mass continue to social distance in the pews. It should be noted that the State of Pennsylvania allows houses of worship to have 75% of the legal occupancy of their worship space present at one time. (Our Church’s legal occupancy is 900 people, which means we could have up to 675 people in the Church and still be respecting the State regulations.) By opening all the pews, we anticipate parishioners will still be able to social distance themselves when they enter a pew.
Beginning on Monday, May 17th, parishioners who join us for daily mass are welcome to use pews on both sides of the church, and we will restore Communion Stations to both sides of the Church for our daily Masses.
Additionally, our pews will continue to be sanitized on a regular basis with the germ-killing solution we have been using since we returned to in-person Mass last spring.
And, finally, just a reminder, the Archdiocese continues to ask that we not extend the sign of peace at Mass, that we not have an offertory procession at Mass, and that we continue to refrain from offering Both Species at Mass.
The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still suspended until further notice. However, parishioners are encouraged to use prudent judgement- if you have returned to normalcy in all other aspects of your everyday life, it makes sense to include Sunday Mass attendance in your normal routine.
Please be aware that Archbishop Perez has extended the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. What this means is, if you are uncomfortable with gathering in a crowd at this time, you are dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass.