Guidelines for Re-Opening Holy Mass in the Diocese of Cleveland

imposition of incense

The following was found on Facebook, regarding the guidelines for re-opening Holy Mass in the Diocese of Cleveland. I have not found anything on the diocesan website. Father Michael Denk is a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, so I will assume it is 100% authentic.

Michael J Denk

Here’s the directives for the Diocese of Cleveland. Thoughts? Concerns? Ideas? Solutions?

weekday Mass may begin on 25 May 2020

May, 2020
A Pastors Guide to Returning to Public Worship
in the Diocese of Cleveland
• All pews/seats should be marked for 6 feet of distance between worshippers with labels
indicating social distancing.
• Hand Sanitizer should be available at each entrance of the Church and throughout the
Church where appropriate.
• Prepare signage for the doors of the Church – e.g. “Please use front entrance,” or “Masks
Required,” or “Please observe social distancing,” or “Please sanitize your hands before
entering, when exiting, after contact with your face.” “Maximum of 50% of occupancy”
of the church is permitted for the foreseeable future.
• Prepare for a “both-and” rather than “either-or” experience of liturgy. Livestreaming,
recorded messages should continue in order to reach your parishioners until such time as
it is completely safe to return to publish worship.
• All parishioners should be encouraged to take their temperatures prior to coming to
Mass. Any parishioner with a temperature of 100.4° F or more should stay home.
Anyone not feeling well should be encouraged to stay home.
• The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect for the
Catholic faithful who reside in the Diocese of Cleveland and all other Catholics in the
diocese until further notice.
• The faithful are obliged to wear a mask (or other face covering) upon entering the church
and during the celebration of Mass, except for the brief moment of receiving Holy
Communion. Disposable masks should be made available at the doors of the church.
• All pews shall be wiped down with disinfectant after each Mass. This includes kneelers as
• All hymnals and missalettes are to be removed from the pews and stored for the duration
of the pandemic. No other materials may be left in the pews. The faithful are

May, 2020
encouraged to bring their own missals or hymnals for use during the celebration of Mass.
Music can be printed on a disposable worship aide (please be attentive to all musical
licensing for this purpose).
• Restroom facilities, door handles, push plates and knobs are to be sanitized after each
• Holy water fonts are to remain empty until further notice.
• 6 feet distances should be marked with tape on the floor of the Church and staggered if
there are two communion lines so that distance is kept between those who are receiving
communion both ahead/behind and next to.
• Clergy and other ministers are to maintain six-foot distances and should not greet
parishioners as they enter church.
• Nurseries and cry rooms should not be used unless they are able to be sanitized after
each use.
• Children’s Liturgy of the Word should only be offered virtually each week until further

• Entry and exit doors are to be adequately designated and monitored. If possible, you
may designate one entry way in order to count the numbers of participants entering.
Entry doors should be propped up or held open before Mass and exit doors should be
propped or held open at the end of Mass to prevent people from touching the door
handles, knobs or push plates.
• Staff, ushers or other volunteers should assist with directing people to pews specifically
marked. Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 50% of the church’s total capacity
in order to assure compliance with social distancing requirements.
• Families may sit together but are to maintain six feet of distance between their family
and other families or individuals throughout the celebration of Mass.
• Seating is to be arranged such that six feet of distance should be maintained between
members of one household and another
• One or two pews should be left vacant in between congregants such that six feet of
distance can be maintained in all directions
• The procession into church should be simple – preferably from the sacristy – not the
front door of the church.
• No servers should be used to hold the Roman Missal. The presider will either utilize the
altar for the presidential prayers or may set up a stand for the missal during the
recitation of the prayers.
• It is recommended that servers, if utilized, will not vest in albs or cassocks. These items
cannot be practically laundered between each use.
• Music ministers must maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance and should have a
designated microphone used only by that individual during the mass. The microphone
should be sanitized after each Mass.

May, 2020
• Offertory processions are suspended. Collection baskets shall not be passed from one
congregant to another, nor shall ushers take up the collection from the congregation.
Stationary baskets are to be used for donations from the assembly and are to be
monitored by the ushers until the donations are collected and handled according to
proper protocols in place for handling the collection.
• The sign of peace is to be omitted for the time being.
• All concelebrating priests must have their own chalice and no other minister is to receive
from the chalice until further notice. All liturgical items are to be properly cleansed and
sanitized after each use.
• For the distribution of communion, ushers and other volunteers who are masked and
gloved will ensure six-foot distancing in the communion line. Floor markings shall be
placed six feet apart in the aisles in which the congregation approaches the sanctuary for
communion to facilitate proper social distancing.
• Communion ministers must be masked, sanitize their hands immediately before and after
distributing Communion and, when at all possible, to utilize a disinfectant wipe or
purificator dipped in sanitizing solution (at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) to
sanitize their fingers when incidental contact is made with the communicant. Sanitizing
stations should be located nearby the communion stations.
• Distribution of Holy Communion from the chalice is prohibited to the assembly and
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion until further notice.
• Instructions for the distribution of communion should be clearly stated prior to the start
of distribution.
• All Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should wear facemasks and gloves when
• For those who are gluten intolerant, special arrangements are to be made with the
• For the distribution of Holy Communion, a single file for each communion minister is
necessary to maintain social distancing. Multiple communion ministers may be used as
long as one-way traffic patterns are observed.
• For the health and safety of all, reception of Holy Communion is strongly encouraged in
the hand to avoid contact with individual’s saliva. Presiders are encouraged to announce
that all who wish to receive on the tongue should be last in the communion line to allow
for proper sanitizing between each communicant.
• When approaching the Communion minister, the communicant is to pull their mask
below the chin and present one hand resting on the palm of the other. After responding,
“Amen,” the communicant reverently places the Eucharist in his or her mouth and
immediately replaces their mask.

May, 2020
• Family units should depart the church in an organized manner wearing masks and
observing six feet of distance between other households. Ushers or clergy may need to
direct this process.
• Ushers are not to hand out bulletins or other materials without gloves and distancing.
• Clergy and other ministers can acknowledge the faithful as they leave but only with social
distancing and no physical contact such as a handshake or hug.
• Cleaning of the Vessels should utilize warm, soapy water. Presiders are to use their own
• There are to be no receptions or social gatherings (coffee and donuts) following Mass.
• Pews and other high trafficked areas of the church are to be wiped down before the next
service, with the removal of trash and other items from the pews. All those who are
cleaning or preparing the church should be masked and should wear gloves.
The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect.
• Pastors are asked to use good judgment and ensure compliance with social distancing for
parish office operations.
• Pastors are asked to use good judgment and may want to consider allowing those who
are able, to continue to work remotely from home and develop a staggered plan over a
period of a few weeks for the return of all employees to the Parish Office.
• Pastors are asked to develop a protocol for the regular cleaning and sanitizing of public
surface areas in the parish office including but not limited to phones, desks, restrooms
and public spaces.
• The parish office staff and visitors should adhere to the governor’s directives regarding
social distancing.
• Pastors are encouraged to delay or cancel parish festivals, carnivals, picnics or other large
group events for the summer of 2020.


7 thoughts on “Guidelines for Re-Opening Holy Mass in the Diocese of Cleveland

  1. Again, use of single kneeler eliminates the irreverent task of taping and wiping down altar rails. Might make it simpler for Father, and for the gads of (us) volunteers needed to adhere to these directives. Before Mass begins the outside door should be locked. We need a faithful man in that role. There should be no interruption of Mass by some inspector.

    Blessed Fr. Martin Martinez Pascual, pray for us.

  2. Feel free to not post my previous remarks, but merely use or not use as best deemed helpful.

    1. I don’t see anything wrong with your previous remarks. They are valid thoughts.
      I personally detest the idea of being policed before, during and after the Holy Sacrifice. Seems there is much more concern from the hierarchy to police and protect the body from physical harm, but much, much less effort towards equal protection for the soul.

  3. I really have no intention of wearing a “mask (or other face covering)” during Mass. [Although I am sorely tempted to don my Guy Fawkes mask aka antifa aka V for Vendetta). Perhaps making a spiritual communion is preferable after all.

  4. If you access and go to the right hand corner, there is an article entitled “A Pastors Guide to Returning to Public Worship in the Diocese of Cleveland” you can read the entire document.

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