The following notice was sent by the Chancery to all pastors this week:
“The Chancery Office has received a number of calls from parishioners expressing concerns about lax compliance with the statewide mandatory ‘mask order’ among those attending our churches and oratories.
“The statewide mandatory mask order requires everyone over age 10 coming to a public place of gathering (which includes churches) to wear a mask. (Our own diocesan protocol is that everyone over age 2 must be masked.) An exception is made for the “officiant” of a religious service. This is generally understood as anyone having a speaking role: e.g. celebrant, deacon, lector, or cantor. There is also an exception for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons. Such persons should be advised not to attend public gatherings at all, including coming to mass due to their vulnerability to infection. It should also be noted that those distributing communion must be masked while performing this function.
“Because the wearing of masks is now mandated by the governor’s executive order, it is necessary for our parishes to enforce compliance with this order. Lax compliance with this mandate on the part of the people attending Mass may result in problems not only for them, but also for the parish and the pastor or administrator. Although we do not recommend confrontation, neither can non-compliance be ignored. Pastors and Administrators are urged to take the steps necessary to ensure the fullest possible compliance with the mandatory mask order by all those who attend our churches.”
Also, I remind everyone that masks should be worn in a proper way covering both the mouth and the nose. I thank all of those who have been very conscientious in wearing their masks while attending Mass. It is a true sign of your concern for the respect of life.
Fr. Anthony A. Dinovo, Jr.