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Holy Trinity to Enter Phase 2 —
Limited Church Reopening

View Fr. Gillespie's full announcement on Phase 2 and Limited Church Reopening.

Further details on signing up to attend or volunteer for the July 31 Feast of St. Ignatius Mass will be sent out in this afternoon's eLetter.

Over these last four months, we have yearned for the time when we can again celebrate the Eucharist together in our church. After a process of discernment and prayer and benefiting from the hard work and wise counsel of my fellow Jesuits, our staff members, and members of the Parish’s COVID-19 Task Force, I am now ready to open the main church for Eucharistic liturgies on an experimental basis. Our first Mass will be on the Feast of St. Ignatius, July 31 at 9am. More details will be forthcoming in this afternoon's eLetter. Please pray for the success of our efforts.

We have cautiously approached decisions on whether to open the church and begin liturgies as a community effort to protect one another. Cura personalis is our guiding principle. Both as a public health principle and as a teaching of Christ, we must take care to protect our fellow parishioners and the larger community in which we live. By taking steps to protect each other as we will be doing in our cautious opening, we reduce the risk to our parishioners and to the community at large. We will modify course whenever prudent as the medical science improves and our ability to blunt the risks of infection increases. We are being guided by the recommendations of experts and not being swayed by the pressure of what others are saying or doing. 

God understands how much this slow pace grieves us. I pray we will be able to remain open to God’s comforting love even if we decide not to enter the church building despite the safety measures we are putting into place. I am confident that God understands and approves of our caution. A dispensation from the diocesan Bishop continues to release Catholics from fulfilling their Sunday obligation (Mass).

Following the July 31 “experiment,” we plan to enter our own Phase 2 on August 16. With over 100 Baptisms and 300 Confirmations and First Communions delayed, we are focusing efforts on sacramental celebrations. Health and safety measures will be in effect, and we ask those coming to the Holy Trinity campus to review our health and safety covenant. On July 31, no more than 50 people will be able to attend the Feast Day Mass. Please remember that we will continue our virtual offerings, and on that day a virtual service will be offered at 5:30pm. Those who would like to attend will need to sign up in advance, sit in assigned seats, and maintain at least six feet of physical distance. Everyone must wear a mask and attend only if they do not have symptoms of illness. Beginning August 16, sacramental services (Baptisms, Confirmations and First Communions) will be scheduled for those interested in receiving the sacrament. There will be limits on the number of participants.

We will continue to adjust our offerings and the guidelines based on recommendations from the CDC and the D.C. Health Department. 

While the campus has been closed, Holy Trinity has been taking a multi-pronged approach to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while attending a liturgy in our church:

  • The parish has improved air intake and filtration and is looking at additional measures to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission in the church, a growing area of concern to the scientific community. 
     
  • The parish has in place an efficient method to clean high-touch surfaces in the church to reduce the risk of contact transmission. Our facilities director has selected a disinfectant that is effective against COVID-19, can be applied effectively by our staff, and does less harm to our pews. 
     
  • The church will be marked off to assist church visitors to maintain needed physical distancing. Visitors will be required to sit in a designated pew and follow the directions of the ushers.

Church visitors have an important role to play:

  • All visitors will be required to read and agree to a Health & Safety Covenant and an honor system to take a self-check that they are well and without symptoms of COVID-19. Visitors should not attend if they have symptoms of fever, coughing, shortness of breath, or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.  

  • Everyone entering the church must sanitize their hands at or near the entrance of the church. If you can, please bring your own sanitizer. The church will make efforts to have sanitizer available at the door for this purpose.

  • Church visitors will be required to wear masks at all times as they are approaching and are within the church.  

  • To avoid spreading potentially harmful aerosol particles, church visitors must not sing.

  • If a church visitor develops symptoms within two weeks after attending, he or she must tell us.

These safety and sanitation requirements demand that we will incur unbudgeted expenses. As a result, with the support of our development and finance committees, we will launch a COVID-19 health and safety campaign, and you will be receiving communication to this effect tomorrow. Costs associated with these measures are expected to be between $140,000 and $150,000, and include everything from additional cleaning supplies, to disinfecting equipment, to HVAC improvements and added janitorial staff time. 

COVID-19 is a dangerous disease, about which we are learning more regularly. We cannot guarantee that the steps we are taking provide enough protection for your individual circumstances.  Please weigh the risks to your own health carefully in light of all the factors before deciding to to enter the Church.  God wants you to be careful. Your life and the lives of all of us are sacred, especially to God.

Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J.
Pastor
We are a Jesuit Catholic parish that welcomes all to:
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