Many are desirous of returning to churches to celebrate Masses. However, adhering to the Health Ministry’s ‘Guidelines for Places of Worship’ and the Archdiocese’s Health, Safety and Environment Committee Guidelines for physical distancing will entail using different approaches.
Persons can reserve a seat using Calendly at www.catholictt.org, or call-in to their parishes, or walk-in. Archbishop Jason Gordon has given a dispensation from the weekend obligation to attend Sunday Mass and until further notice, attendance at Mass on any day of the week will fulfil the obligation. Masses are available via Trinity TV and virtually, and several parishes have Facebook pages livestreaming their Masses.
It must be noted the Health Ministry has directed, “Attendance shall be calculated for each building based on a measurement of 36 square feet per person. It further asks that the number of person/s attending services be regulated to avoid crowding based on Public Health Regulations. “Consideration should be given to having multiple services with controlled numbers rather than one large gathering”. http://www.health.gov.tt/covid19/GuidelinesRegulations/WorshipGuidelines.pdf
The HSE Guidelines state that the maximum number of persons allowed will be calculated for each church and will be based on the physical size of each building. The document explained, “out of an abundance of caution in the early days of reopening, we will allow into our churches, only 50% of the maximum capacity (of each church) for each service. This will allow time to address any challenges that may arise, eventually increasing the number allowed to 75% and then 100% of the maximum, based on the aforementioned formula”. For example, a building with 3,600 sq ft at 36 sq ft/person will accommodate 100 persons at maximum capacity as per stipulation for physical distancing; 50 per cent maximum capacity will be 50 persons.
Calendly is the online event-scheduling and reservation software being used by the Archdiocese to assist in managing the reopening of Mass at churches nationwide. Each parish will share with their congregation via social media, email, WhatsApp and other media their individual Mass Calendars for reservations.
A directory of parishes and their respective calendars will also be available on www.catholictt.org. For the parishes utilising this service, persons will be able to view available Mass times, dates and reserve a seat at their preferred location. Multiple members of the same family wishing to attend Mass must be booked separately. All that is needed is a name, email and telephone number. Alternatively, persons may also contact their parish to have a seat reserved. ‘First come, first served’ is also being used at some parishes.
At Mass Sunday June 14, Archbishop Jason Gordon appealed for persons who were unable to attend Mass in church to be patient. “We are working it out. You can go to catholictt.org, find the directory, find your parish to log in”. For persons who are not digitally connected he reinforced that they could “just call the parish, make the appointment for the Mass you can get”.
The Archbishop assured, “We are going to work it out. Patience, and let’s find a way to work together as Church”.
Access full Health and Safety Guidelines for the Archdiocese of Port of Spain here.