FACEMASKS AT ST. FRANCIS: YES OR NO? CONFUSED??
With the CDC and the NC Governor’s Office announcing shifts in facemask protocols for those fully vaccinated, parishioners are asking why we are requiring those coming for Mass to wear one inside the church building. This has been discussed with our parish COVID-19 Task Force comprised of doctors working in emergency rooms, public health experts, medical researchers and professionals, and members of our staff, all parishioners, who provide us with reality checks based on their medical knowledge and experience in hospitals and other settings.
At this stage, we are still requiring facemasks indoors for two reasons: out of the common good for 1) our children under the age of 12 who are not yet vaccinated and 2) those who wish to return to Mass but who, for any number of reasons (e.g., cannot tolerate a vaccination because of compromised immunity issues), cannot be vaccinated at this time. Having both of these groups in a closed environment with a capacity of 1400 for an hour with a significant number of unmasked people, some of whom may not be vaccinated, is a risk we are not yet ready to take.
I cannot say how long we will continue to require facemasks while in the church, but we continue to review this on a regular basis. Like you, I would like facemasks to disappear yesterday. As pastor, I am also the shepherd of a vast flock for whom my highest priority is their safety, especially our children and the vulnerable. We continue to monitor developments with the C-19 virus and as things become clearer and we have more knowledge, we will continue the process of returning to normalcy at St. Francis, including the eventual removal of facemasks inside the church. In the meantime, I remain grateful for your patience, your support, and your prayers, the latter especially for those in our world who are being hard-hit by the coronavirus today.