Welcome Back: The church is now open again to the public for the celebration of Mass. From Monday 29th June to Friday 3rd July, numbers attending Mass in Ballinteer will be limited to 50, irrespective of any announcement from the government or Archdiocese changing the numbers who are allowed to attend Mass. We are expecting the government to make an announcement, possibly before you read this, to increase the numbers allowed to 100 or in relation to the size of churches. We will delay a final statement on the numbers allowed for the weekend Masses of the 4/5th July until we hear an announcement from the government.
Personal responsibility: Personal responsibility for your health is extremely important. If you are vulnerable on any ground which renders you susceptible to the Coronavirus you should absent yourself from Mass and not endanger yourself or others. And of course, if you are feeling unwell, we ask that you stay at home and continue to follow the Mass on the Parish WebCam. The obligation to attend Mass at the weekend has been lifted and will not be re-introduced for some time yet. We would also ask that you sanitise your hands before you leave home, and sanitise them again on arrival at the church. There will be sanitisers available at the entrance to the church. Everyone attending Mass should wear a face mask in line with HSE guidance on the use of masks in indoor settings. We hope to provide a limited number of face masks (cost €1.00 each) at the entrance or those who forget to bring one; people will be asked to put the money in the box provided.
Collections: Baskets will not be passed around during the Mass for collections. Instead there will be a basket inside the door into which you put your money/envelope for both collections. If you forget to pay to the collections on the way in please do so on the way out. On line payments are also possible via Payzone
Attendance at Mass: In line with contact tracing we are requesting everyone coming to Mass to write their name and contact details on a piece of paper (if you wish you may put it in an envelope) and put it in a container at the door on the way in or out. We are asking you to do this at home rather than in the church for health & safety reasons. We have left some paper and pens at the entrance if you forget to bring your details with you. Please sanitise your hands before and after you use the pens. These pieces of paper will be collected after each Mass and put in a sealed envelope, the contents of which will be destroyed after three weeks if we are not contacted by the HSE. Obviously if we are contacted by the HSE we will hand over the details to them for contact tracing.
Managing numbers at Mass: In order to avoid excess numbers at the weekday Masses from Monday 29th June to Friday 3rd July we are requesting that people north of Ballinteer Avenue (Old Ballinteer, Broadford, Heather etc) attend Mass on Monday, Wednesday or Friday while people south of Ballinteer Avenue (Woodpark, Kingston, Pine Valley, Ballintyre etc) attend Mass on Tuesday or Thursday. This applies to the coming week and if the rules are changed to allow 100 from Monday 6th July, then the weekday Mass will be open to all the parish.
As soon as we know the numbers allowed for the first weekend of Masses we will update the website with the areas allocated to each Mass and put up notices in the church. All four Masses will go ahead (Saturday 6:00 p.m., Sunday 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.). We are asking people for understanding and patience as we try to get as many people as possible to attend Mass. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions, parishioners may only be able to attend one weekend Mass in the first three weeks. We have to comply with regulations to ensure the health and safety of those attending Mass.
Movement in the church: In order to run things smoothly for the weekday Masses we are asking people to come in the main door of the church, sanitise your hands as you enter and you will be directed to a seat by one of our guides. We are requesting that people follow the instructions of the guides as regards seating as we fill the church from the front working towards the back. As soon as we have 50 in the church, a sign will be put up at the entrance saying 'Church Full' and we are asking people to respect this sign and not seek entry. For the weekday Masses we will not be using the seats beside the Stations of the Cross or the Oratory. At Holy Communion time their will be a one-way system, with ministers of the Eucharist / priests at the tabernacle on one side and at the ambo on the other side. People are requested to sanitise their hands and remove their face masks before receiving. Communion will be distributed on the hand only. People will come up the side aisles where distancing yellow tape has been placed on the ground and return to their seats by the centre aisle. The front rows will go up first and then row by row to the back. If you do not wish to receive Holy Communion you may proceed to the priest / deacon / minister of the Eucharist to receive a blessing or alternatively remain in your seat. No one should feel pressurised to receive Holy Communion if the don't want to. The guides will direct people as required. When Mass is over people will leave the church starting with the back rows and working towards the front.
These procedures are explained in more detail in the Guidelines and Detailed Protocol.
Video on Church reopening for public Mass
Volunteers needed: To effectively manage this new situation we need more volunteers to act as guides. We had two very successful meetings for guides but as the numbers coming to church will gradually increase, we will need more guides. We just have enough guides to cope with 50 attending Mass for the next week. If we move up to 100 (or 140) we will need many more guides. If you have some spare time, and would like to help us out, even for one Mass per week, we would love to hear from you. If you are prepared to help, please email email@example.com or contact the parish office.
Seating arrangements: When you visit the church, you will see that every second row is roped off to prevent entry and these rows are not to be used. In the other rows marked for seating you will see masking tape at intervals on the arm rests (back of seat). This masking tape indicates where people should sit while maintaining a social distance of 2 metres. As you enter the main aisle the seats on the left are marked for 3 individuals while the seats on the right are marked for 4. Obviously if you come to Mass with other members of your household with whom you don't have to maintain social distancing then the number allowed in that row will increase.
We are in new territory and on a steep learning curve. Will we get everything perfect? Highly unlikely, but we will endeavour to learn from our mistakes; but before we can learn from our mistakes we will need your help. If you see improvements we should make, please forward you comments to firstname.lastname@example.org There is strength in unity (Ní neart go cur le chéile). With your help and understanding we can make the re-opening of the church for Mass a joyous and blessed experience.
Parish Pastoral Council