COVID Precautions & Procedures

A message from you Pastor, Fr. Kevin Huber.

A Message From Fr. Kevin

As you may know by now, in a letter dated May 21, 2021, Bishop McClory, along with the bishops of the Province of Indiana, lifted the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and holy days of obligation. With the decrease of COVID-19 cases in the state of Indiana, a widespread availability of vaccines, and guidance from public health officials, the bishops collectively discerned that churches can safely accommodate more parishioners for worship. As such, effective June 11, 2021, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will end throughout the state of Indiana. Additionally, in a memorandum dated May 19, 2021, the Diocese of Gary Office of Worship and the Catechumenate published updated liturgical guidelines to help pastors in their efforts to navigate the transition that will take place over the next few weeks.

To help you understand the implications of these decisions and guidelines for the St. Mary Parish community, I want to provide you with the plan we will use to implement these changes from our current way of worshipping. For easy reference and clarity, I will address each issue in bulletin form according to date.

· Registration before Mass: Beginning May 30, 2021, we will discontinue the practice of recording names upon entering church.

· Entrance into the church: Beginning May 30, 2021, People attending Mass can enter the church through the doors on 10th Street, near Manhattan Street, and Buffalo Street. Please note that we will return to the practice of locking the doors 10 minutes after Mass begins, to provide security for worshippers.

· Baptismal fonts and stoups: Beginning May 30, 2021, holy water will be accessible in the baptismal font and in the holy water stoups at the entrances of the church.

· Disinfecting pews: Beginning May 31, 2021, I will discontinue the practice to disinfecting the pews between Masses. However, upon occasion, pew tops (the place most frequently touched) will be wiped down with a simple soap and water solution.

· Social distance: Beginning the weekend of June 5-6, 2021, I will reduce the standard of social distance to three feet. As such, seating will not be separated by a pew. Sitting, standing, and kneeling, we are separated by three feet. Please provide ample space in the pews for appropriate distance and during the procession for Holy Communion. For people who want to continue to social distance, I will space the pews in the back of the church near the baptismal font.

· The Distribution of Holy Communion: Beginning June 5, 2021, when approaching to receive Holy Communion please form two lines in the center aisle rather than one. Please accommodate three feet between yourself and the person in front of you for minimal social distance.

· Receiving Holy Communion on the tongue: Beginning June 5, 2021, the practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue during the Communion Procession will resume. Receiving the Eucharist on the tongue after Mass is no longer necessary.

· Missalettes: Beginning June 5, 2021, we will return the missalettes to the racks in the pews for general use.

· General dispensation: According to the Five Precepts of the Roman Catholic Church, baptized Catholics have an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. For the safety and protection of the faithful, the bishops of the Province of Indiana relieved (dispensed) Catholics of the obligation in March 2020. Effective June 11, 2021, the obligation for Catholics to attend the Eucharist on Sundays and holy days of obligation returns. From that point, the decision to exempt oneself from Sunday Mass or holy days of obligation is a mortal sin, which can only be forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance.

While the obligation returns, unique situations may inhibit a person from attending Mass, such as serious illness, contagious disease (including quarantine due to exposure), incapacitation due to age, weakness and/or medical restrictions, and compromised health conditions. Also, people who are unable to attend Mass through no fault of their own or who care for the sick or persons in the high-risk category are not obliged to attend Mass on Sunday.

Bishop McClory has also authorized pastors to dispense in individual cases. If you have any fears concerns, questions, or if you need clarification, please see me.

· Masking: Beginning June 11, 2021, masks will no longer be required to enter the church building, nor will they be required at our liturgies. Please know that you are welcome to continue wearing masks, according to your comfort level. Following the recommendation of the CDC, the bishops of the Indiana Province strongly encourage people to continue wearing masks who have not been fully vaccinated.

· Sign of Peace: Please limit physical contact during the Lord’s Prayer and the exchange of peace to members of your household.

I hope you are comfortable with these new protocols, developed by the Liturgy Commission of the Diocese of Gary, in conformity with recommendations from the CDC and guidelines used in other dioceses around the country and with your health and safety in mind. I am grateful for their hard work. If you have concerns or questions, please contact me at the parish office at 219-872-9196 or at Please be sure of my prayers for you that we enter into a well-deserved period of rest and relaxation.