Click here to Reserve A Seat (reservation system is scheduled to be available on Tuesday afternoon, 26 May) (Español)
In accordance with the Governor’s Phase 1 and Arlington Diocese Guidelines, we welcome you and your family back to Saint Bernadette. Specific instructions for attendance can be found in Fr. Don's Letter this week or by clicking the "New Guidelines for Attending Mass" video link below.
* Everyone MUST wear a mask when entering the church and during Mass
* All parishioners are required to reserve a seat to ensure the safety of the maximum number of attendees. Please do not arrive without a reservation, anticipating an empty seat.
* Family groups of 1, 2, 4 or 6 will be socially distanced in pews that are clearly marked. We kindly ask that family groups only be comprised of people with whom you have quarantined.
* Only one person needs to reserve a seat. If a slot is full, we kindly ask that you consider the next larger available slot or another Mass.
* Reservations will close 30 minutes before Mass. If you are unable to attend the Mass for which you have reserved a seat, please cancel your reservation to free a slot for another family.
* Families will only be permitted to sign up for one slot per Mass and no swapping reservations please.
* Ushers will assist in finding you a seat and all participants are expected to wear a mask at all times.
* Those persons 65 years or older, immune compromised or have a pre-existing health concerns, families with children that may be uncomfortable remaining in the pew and those who have had COVID symptoms in the last 14 days are encouraged to join us virtually via our Live Stream Mass on Facebook.
* No Standing will be permitted within the sanctuary. Congregating in the vestibule before, during and after Masses will not be permitted and restroom facilities will be limited.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
Finally it is time to welcome you back to the Lord’s table. We want to provide a safe space for you, and ask that you always wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, and observe 6 foot physical distancing as outlined by civil authorities.
Remember Bishop’s instruction: the dispensation from the Sunday/holy day obligation is in effect indefinitely, and no member of the faithful is obliged to attend Mass. The allowance for the public celebration of Mass in no way intends to place an undue burden on the conscience of those who choose not to attend Mass, out of concern for their own safety and/or the safety of others whom they regularly encounter. Anyone 65 years of age or older, anyone with medical or mental issues which could put them at risk, and anyone responsible for their care is encouraged to attend Mass online through our live-streamed Masses which will continue everyday.
Our area has seen one of the highest infection rates in Virginia, and we have parishioners who have tested positive. Spread of infection also occurs by people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 so to come to a large gathering without a mask only adds to the existing risk. I would advise people with small children to consider not bringing them, as they can’t receive Communion anyway, and we still do not know the extent of COVID-related inflammatory syndrome in children. We are opening back up, but the virus is no less contagious. Let us find Christ also in the way we take care of one another.
Online sign-up required
You will be able to sign up online as individuals or in family groups. This is so that you will be able to see before leaving home whether or not there are going to be enough available seats. When one Mass is full, please choose another. We’ll review that online process with a step-by-step explanation in greater detail above.
Entering the church
You will be asked to arrive here at the church starting 30 minutes before Mass begins. Please do not be late, this will already be a slow process. While waiting, please observe proper social distancing with masks on. This includes children. Porters will be inside the door on either end of the vestibule to admit you, and an usher will escort you into the church. Please pay attention and follow the directions of the ushers. The restrooms will have an occupancy of only two people at a time, so please plan ahead not to use the bathrooms at the church. Children will not be allowed to get up and run around the vestibule during Mass, as that area will have been exposed to everyone coming into the church.
You will see in the vestibule large baskets in which we ask you to drop your offertory envelopes. We thank you in advance.
The small handicapped entrance will not be open for entering: those requiring handicapped accessibility to the church are asked to park in the designated spaces behind the rectory and enter by way of the new ramp between the gym and the church.
Unfortunately, there can be no stopping and talking, no gathering, no standing room in the vestibule or back of church. We expect everyone to enter the church single-file and down the center of the aisles. The aisles will be taped off every 6 feet to help you keep a safe distance from the person in front of you.
You will see we have placed a brass upholstery tack 40 inches from the ends of each pew. No one is to sit closer to an aisle than this 40-inch marker. Every other pew will be roped off; our pew backs are exactly 6 feet between every two pews. The usher will invite you into the next available pew and you will go to the other end as far as the brass tack on the other end. Individuals, couples and families may sit comfortably spaced, then there must be a 6 foot gap between you and the next person. When less than 6 feet remain between those seated and the first upholstery tack, that pew is full. You will not be able to choose your favorite pew in the church.
Once in the pew, you will notice that all hymnals have been removed. If you would like to have the readings for Mass with you, you are encouraged to follow along with a hand Missal or readings brought from home. For the time being, there will be no singing, as this has also been shown to be a cause of spread.
The diocese has stated that there is to be no sign of peace, and no holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. There will be announcements and explanations given during Mass to help everyone as we get accustomed to these practices.
At Communion time, people will be called forward section by section to receive, one section at a time, single file, 6 feet between each person. All are encouraged to sanitize your hands before and after receiving Communion. Bishop has asked all Catholics to prayerfully consider choosing the option of receiving on the hand, at least temporarily.
You will see crosses on the floor where you are to stop if receiving Communion in the hand, 6 feet from the priest or deacon. You receive it, step aside from the priest, lowering your mask with your free hand, placing the host in your mouth. Priests are instructed to sanitize their hands if making contact with your hand before continuing distribution.
If you receive on the tongue, try to distance as best you can from the priest, lowering your mask for only the moment of reception. Because the virus is airborn and the priest's hand is close to your nose and mouth, he is required to sanitize his hands after each instance.
You will return to your pews, distanced 6 feet, without crossing traffic lanes with any others in the aisles.
At the end of Mass
At the end of Mass you will be asked to leave the church one section at a time and exit through the vestibule and go to your cars. The back pews in each section will leave first, minimizing exposure. Unfortunately you will not be permitted to stay in the church for prayer when it is time for your section to leave. Once outside and away from others, face coverings may be removed.
Speaking with other pastors who have already opened their parishes again, we know that it will take about 30 minutes to get everyone into the church, and somewhat less than 30 minutes for everyone to leave. At that time, the doors will be locked with no one in the church except our cleaning company, who will come into the church and carefully sanitize all pews and surfaces, vestibule and bathrooms. They will require about one hour to do this work, before we are able to open the church 30 minutes before the next Mass.
Some priests are asking their parishioners to wipe down their areas with sanitizing wipes before they leave. While it is true this would take less time, we are advised that this is not wise in areas where we have seen higher instances of coronavirus.
New Mass schedule:
Because of these needs, we will adjust the Sunday Mass schedule to 7am, 10am, 1pm in Spanish, and 5pm. We will keep the 5pm Vigil Mass on Saturday and also keep the 5:30pm live-streaming Mass which will be available to the parish from 5:30 Saturday throughout the day Sunday.
We thank you for your disciplined cooperation to these guidelines. We also ask that you be flexible to attend Mass when seats are available on the sign-up platform online. I know everyone is going to want to come to the 10am Mass on Sunday but not everyone will be able to do so. Consider the need we have for Eucharist and do not allow convenience to prevent you from attending.
One last word about masks/face coverings: please do not wear a mask that is inappropriate or will distract from the prayerfulness of our gathering. Follow the same rules we try to follow with regard to what is reverent and appropriate in our attire.
I know there will be people who do not want to wear masks; nobody likes it. Studies indicate more and more each day that masks are going to be the solution to virus spread. They provide an 80% decrease in possible infection. Wear a mask because it is an act of love for those around you and include it as a part of your offering to God at Mass when you are able to join us.
God bless you.
P.S. At the time of this posting (Friday evening, 22 May), we only have 13 volunteers for Porters and Ushers. We figure we need a minimum of 6 per Mass to open safely - a Porter at each entrance and 4 Ushers to escort families to properly-spaced seating.
Please contact me if you are willing/able to serve:
Porters/Ushers Job Description
Eligibility: Adults under 65 years of age and not suffering from any sort of medical or mental condition which would put you at risk. We must state from the start that this ministry will not be without inherent risk. You must wear a mask (we can provide for ministers) and observe the discipline of CDC guidelines of physically distancing from all people by six feet. A balance of authority and humility, patience. High school students who wish to volunteer need to call Fr. Don and have a letter of permission from their parents.
Porters will stand at the entrance doors of the church and regulate people, preventing people from grouping together inside. Doors will be propped open to prevent spread by contact. We will begin using an online sign-up platform so that we do the same thing from the start without changes and people can get accustomed to using it, but we don’t anticipate exceeding the number of seats inside for a while. You will kindly ask people not wearing masks to come back to another Mass or attend Mass via live streaming online. Near you will be a basket where people will be able to drop their offering before or after Mass. Your job will be to keep an eye on it. They are 36” tall and easy to keep track of.
Ushers will escort families or individuals into the church one group at a time (we must have at least four per Mass), taking them to the next available pew. We have a simple way for this to work, and will cover this in training early next week (hopefully). After each seating, you return to the porter to invite the next family in. There is no collection, and there will be no need to direct traffic at Communion as we will call each section to come forward individually to avoid crossing lanes of traffic. Likewise, we will invite the people to leave the church section by section starting at the back of each section, and staying six feet apart as they leave the church.
Arlington Diocese COVID Response Flier - English| Spanish
Arlington Diocese COVID Response Guide for the Lay Faithful - English | Spanish
Arlington Diocese COVID Response - Resources