Dear Parish Family,

I trust this message finds you and your family well and safe.  It has been far too long since I have seen the beautiful faces of our Parish Family, individually and, more importantly, communally as a Family of Worship.  We are called to “know, love and serve God”.  My sincere prayer is that this time in the desert, which is not over, is being used by each of us to allow the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts, minds and souls for this commissioning – to know His Word, Love His Word, and Bring Him Souls by Spreading His Word and Love.

As you hopefully have heard by now, Bishop Talley has issued a decree effectively allowing Masses in the Diocese of Memphis to resume effective Saturday evening, May 16th.  His complete Decree can be found on the Diocese website:  https://cdom.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Bishop-Decree-Binder.pdf.

While this decree allows us to begin celebrating Mass as a Parish Family, something we have all longed for in these challenging weeks, I want to emphasize the following points and protocols for the initial Masses, and subsequently, until further notice:

1. The Bishop’s dispensation to not attend Mass or receive Holy Communion has not been lifted.  It is not only permissible, but advised that you “worship from home” if you so choose.  If you feel like you are sick, vulnerable and/or in a high risk category, please stay home and continue to utilize the various on-line methods.  This goes for all ages of our parish family.

2. To emphasize, we will continue to offer Mass through the ‘olphgermantown’ and my personal Facebook profile, Mathew Panackachira.  There are numerous other options on Facebook, You Tube, EWTN and other streaming media platforms.

3. If you do choose to join us for Mass, the times of our services will remain the same as before:  Saturday – 4:30 PM, Sunday – 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:45 AM, and 12:30 PM.  We will be Live Streaming on Facebook the Saturday 4.30 vigil mass and Sunday 10.45 Masses until further notice. 

4. By order of the Bishop, we must maintain all protocols for health and safety.  You are required to:  Bring and Wear a Face Mask at all times, Bring and Use sanitizing lotion, Refrain from “visiting” before or after the celebration, and follow all other Social Distancing rules put in place for our safety.

5. Our sanctuary’s capacity is 800 people.  But if we follow the safe distance measures we can allow only 125  people in the sanctuary.  We will allow for a second physical space in St. Therese Hall and depending on the size of the faithful we may either celebrate mass there or make arrangements to watch on screen and have communion brought to St. Therese Hall.

6. The main sanctuary will be marked with “Blue Painters Tape” to indicate permitted seating areas.  We will also have ample signage promoting one-way traffic flows and proper distancing.  An Usher will assist you in getting to a seat in an allowed area.  Please come early and be patient as we allow the Ushers to do this in an orderly and safe manner. 

7. Hymnals/Missals will not be available.  Rather we   invite you to simply listen to the Readings from the Lectors, Deacons  and Priests, and Respond in full Participation without the aid of booklets.  
Please use Catholic Mass apps and websites such as, The Word Among UsMagnificat, and the website for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops:  www.usccb.org. before or after mass to go through the readings 

8. Holy Communion will be offered during the normal time of the  Mass. I strongly encourage everyone to receive the Holy Eucharist “in your hand” and not by mouth. Consume the  Precious Body by stepping aside. Please remove gloves, if you use one, before receiving the Holy Eucharist in your hands.  We have six sections in our sanctuary and every other section will come forward for communion at a time. Similar to other steps, you will be guided by the Ushers.

9. At the conclusion of Mass, the Priest, with the assistance of the Ushers, will guide you through an orderly dismissal starting with the back rows.  Please note that this may include directing you to exit  doors other than the main door.  And, again, you are equested to head to your car and not gather in the narthex for fellowship at this time. I want to participate in this aspect of Parish Life as much as anyone, but we must continue on this path for the time being.

10. We will not have a paper bulletin and encourage you to continue to use Flocknotes, Facebook and our Website ( www.olphgermantown.org ) to obtain information usually found in the Bulletin.  Please contact me or other Parish Staff for help in signing up for Flocknotes or accessing any of this information electronically.

11. Your past financial support is very much appreciated, and we fully understand that the economy may have created new challenges for many of you during this time.  To the extent you you are lead and able, Our Parish is in need of your continued financial support.  However, we will not be “passing the basket” during Mass.  We will have two or three designated drop off locations for cash and checks/envelopes.  You may also mail your donation to the Church office.  We also strongly encourage you to use this as an opportunity to begin giving (and establishing regular recurring donations) through our on-line giving platform.  This is easily found on our website, or by contacting Elizabeth Sullivan, 754-1204 # 308 or  (esullivan@olphgermantown.org) in our Parish Office.

12. Please know that we will have the sanctuary and high touch areas wiped down after each Mass.   Please bring and use your own hand sanitizer. ( We will put one or two near the entrance as early as possible)

13. Restrooms will be open; however, we discourage use unless absolutely necessary.  There are two sets of restrooms – one in the Narthex, and one down past St. Therese Hall near the Parish Offices.  Please wipe down with sanitizer and limit people in the restrooms to one at a time.  And please do not allow children to access the restrooms, or any area, unless accompanied by a parent.

14. Week Day Mass will also resume at normal times:  6:15 AM, 8:15 AM and 12 Noon in the Main Sanctuary from the 18th.  Similar rules continue, but there will not be ushers.  Depending on the size of the weekend attendance, if you are unable to attend on the weekend you may consider partaking during the week during this dispensation period.

15. There will NOT be Nursery, Cry room and Children’s liturgy of the word. We will have music only for the 4.30 and 10.45 Masses. ( If you can sing, you are welcome to help with music for the 9 and 12.30 Masses but contact me first) 

As you can see the planning and coordinating is long and involved.  However, it is all things we have sadly grown accustomed to lately. We hope you understand our need to do this to protect you and the rest of our Parish Family as much as possible. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and please continue to pray for me, my brother priests, the Staff and our Parish Family and the whole world. I also want to thank the Advisory committee and the Parish Staff for their help in preparing these notes.

Fr. Mathew Panackachira MCBS  

Regarding Flocknotes and Word on Fire:

We are happy to announce that our parish now has access to premium video content from Word on Fire.

These films and videos feature Bishop Robert Barron who has been hailed as “one of the Church’s greatest messengers” and is the second most-followed Catholic in the world on social media (behind only Pope Francis.)

He is best known for his CATHOLICISM film series and his Emmy-nominated Pivotal Players series, which have both aired on PBS and EWTN, and have been seen by millions of people.

Thanks to Flocknote, our parish’s email and texting tool, we can now send you short Bishop Barron videos with engaging questions via email or text message. We encourage you to participate in our parish discussions as together we draw deeper into the Faith.

In addition, you now have access to the entire Word on Fire digital video library. You can watch any of Bishop Barron’s films or study programs whenever you want, on any device!

To sign-up to Flocknote just take your cell phone and text to 84576 and type in OLPHC (all Caps).

Once you send that in, Flocknote will send you back a confirmation message AND another message asking you to click a link to complete the process.