7/2 Update for Allegheny County Churches
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Just recently, I have received notifications about changes in Allegheny County regarding closure of some businesses. I also just now received a note from Bishop Zubik to all clergy. Unless there are further restrictions tomorrow, our Churches will remain open this July 4th and 5th weekend. Please read for further information:
The decision in Allegheny County announced today was by Dr. Debra L. Bogen, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department, in which she announces further restrictions within Allegheny County because of the significant rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19. With additional mitigation efforts ordered for Allegheny County in the midst of a recent uptick in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, churches will stay open.
The new restrictions call for a one-week closure of bars, restaurants, and casinos and the cancellation of all activities or events over 25 people. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 3, 2020, and also includes a voluntary stay-at-home protocol for people who live in Allegheny County. Further, the official Order states,
“this Order does not apply to religious gatherings held by churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, or other places of worship. Religious institutions remain subject to any requirements set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.”
Bishop Zubik wrote: "As such, churches in the Diocese of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County will remain open, at the discretion of the individual pastors, with continued strict adherence to federal, state, and local public health and safety guidelines, including:
Mandatory mask wearing (as reinforced by a Governor’s order issued July 1)
Maintaining social distancing of at least 6-feet
Following all cleaning and sanitizing procedures outlined in CDC guidelines
As a reminder, the dispensation of the obligation to attend Mass is still in effect in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and parishioners are urged to stay home if they are feeling ill."
In addition, regarding our HOPE Take Out ONLY Festival next week, barring no further restrictions next week, we will be able to keep to our original plan for take out dinners, shirts, basket raffles. There will be no more than 25 persons outside serving or inside preparing food in a safe clean and sanitized kitchen.
Nevertheless, with our churches open and festival continuing, we will continue to be strictly enforcing all regulations. Parishioners must wear a full face mask that covers the nose and mouth in our churches and facilities.
We need more volunteers to sanitize our churches. It's not as hard as you might think. Ask a fellow parishioner who does it. With enough volunteers, it only takes approximately 10 minutes to sanitize even our larger church spaces. Please consider helping to make the time needed for those volunteering less and to keep our churches safe.
Even though we had the potential exposure last weekend that turned out negative and no exposure, I believe that with the safety measures we have taken, we are doing all we can to maintain not only our physical safety and welfare, but also our spiritual welfare. Receiving Holy Communion and participating in the Eucharist is a high importance that spiritually can help us endure this pandemic. Nevertheless, all Catholics are still dispensed from any obligation to attend Mass, especially for those in a high risk group and vulnerable, as Bishop Zubik reminded us in his comments.
Thank you for maintaining all safety protocols in our parishes and properties. And once again, we celebrate our new Holy Family Parish this first weekend of July.
In Christ's love,
Rev. Kevin G. Poecking
on Thursday, July 2 at 7:15PM