Updates on reopening in the midst of COVID-19

August 12, 2021

Dear St. Francis Family:

As you are likely aware, our region of North Carolina, like much of the country, is now experiencing an alarming surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Several local authorities have recently reissued mandates for individuals, including the fully vaccinated, to wear proper face coverings within all indoor facilities. Our parish Pandemic Task Force met last night to assess how best to proceed with this new information. Based on their unanimous recommendation, we will resume the requirement for all individuals, four years and older, to wear masks while indoors at St. Francis. This decision is immediate and includes all events, including liturgies, meetings, and private prayer. In addition, I would like to remind you of other steps that will allow us to move beyond this recent setback: 

  • If you have not already, please consider getting the COVID vaccine.
  • Please ensure that you use hand sanitizer when entering the church.
  • When greeting others, including the exchange of peace, please refrain from personal contact.
  • Please keep your mask on when receiving the Holy Eucharist, taking it off after you have received the host in your hand. Place the host in your mouth and then immediately place your mask back into position.
  • The section on the baptistery side of the church will continue to be marked off for social distancing, but we ask all parishioners to maintain distance throughout, as much as possible.
  • The mid-morning Sunday Mass will continue to be live-streamed, this weekend with a time change to 9 am. Remember, Bishop Zarama still dispenses the faithful from the weekly obligation to attend Mass in person.

I extend a special thank you to our Task Force for their dedication and commitment to keep us all safe, my highest priority during this pandemic.  I also thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate through the ebb and flow of the pandemic. Thinking of the common good and led by the Holy Spirit, let us continue to move forward to the day when we are fully gathered again at St. Francis.

Msgr. Clay

 

July 30, 2021

Dear St. Francis Family:

I write to update you on some upcoming adjustments to the St. Francis of Assisi campus in response to the recent changes in national and state guidelines and the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.

As you know, we have a Pandemic Task Force comprised of medical doctors, public health officials, staff, etc. who have been guiding us since the pandemic began.  The Task Force is keeping abreast of the ever-changing recommendations and guiding me so our protocols reflect this changing environment.  After consulting with the Task Force, I am announcing the following effective July 31:

  • If you are not vaccinated, I remind you that you are required to wear a mask indoors in all public areas of the SFA campus as has been our protocol since June 14. This will now include all unvaccinated children above the age of 5.
  • Beginning this weekend, we strongly encourage all who attend Mass or are attending an indoors meeting on our campus to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status since the vaccinated may spread the virus to others while not experiencing any direct effects of it personally due to their immunity.
  • Upcoming events celebrating our regathering as a community have been temporarily postponed. The August 1 and August 15 events after the mid-morning Sunday Mass will occur when it is safe for us to regather and enjoy coffee, donuts, and fellowship together.
  • We will shift the 9:30am Mass to 9:00am beginning Sunday, August 15, as previously announced. It will continue to be livestreamed.
  • We will temporarily pause restoring the additional 11:45am Mass to our weekend liturgy schedule.
  • The 5:30pm Mass on Sunday will remain a mask-mandatory Mass for everyone attending regardless of vaccination status.

My highest priority as your pastor is keeping everyone safe.  As we have been reminded by our national, state, and local officials and health organizations, the only way to stop the new surge of cases and ensure the safety of our entire community is to be vaccinated.  I urge all unvaccinated parishioners who can be safely vaccinated to consider this and receive the vaccine.

For those who may be hesitant to receive the vaccination because of concern over the use of aborted fetal cell lines, I remind you that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Doctrine Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have publicly declared that receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is morally permissible since aborted fetal cell lines were not used in the development of these vaccines and are not contained in them. These two bodies have also declared that it is in the interest of the common good to be vaccinated.

I extend a special thank you to our Task Force for their dedication and commitment to keep us all safe.  I also thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue the journey to the day when we may freely gather at St. Francis unencumbered by masks or the corornavirus.

Msgr. Clay

June 25, 2021
Dear St. Francis Family:
 
We are ready to take more steps forward as we regather our community of faith. The following four adjustments will take effect on the dates noted below:
 
EFFECTIVE, TUESDAY, JULY 6: The parish will be open to the public M-F, 9am-4pm. Receptionists will be available at the Pastoral Offices to assist you with your pastoral needs.
 
EFFECTIVE SUNDAY, JULY 4: One more Mass will be added back to our weekend schedule. The Mass time will be 7:15am on Sunday (note the time change).
 

POSTPONED DUE TO RISE IN COVID NUMBERS 7/30/2021

EFFECTIVE SUNDAY, AUGUST 15: The time change for the early Mass on Sunday morning is part of a bigger adjustment to the Sunday morning schedule that will begin on August 15 (see below). Motivating the schedule adjustment is the growing trend in Catholic parishes to experience Sunday not only as a time to worship but also to grow in what our faith means and as a community, especially for adults.
 
Making this growth in faith possible is the extraordinary education of our staff, the knowledge and skills of other parishioners, and access to outside speakers who can engage us in meaningful ways about what we believe and how we live our faith. There is a great opportunity before us as we regather our community to provide ongoing formation for adult parishioners who 1) seek depth more appropriate for adults about the fundamentals of our faith, 2) would appreciate updates on pressing current issues (e.g., bioethics, the environment, societal issues, parenting), and/or 3) simply want to learn more about their faith.
 
After extensive discussions with and the endorsement of both church staff and the Pastoral Council about this initiative, we will launch this program for parishioners beginning this fall. As a first step, we will offer a program on Sunday morning, twice a month between September and May, for adults to gather for approximately one hour to learn more about the Catholic faith as noted above. In order to do this, an adjustment to the current Sunday morning Mass schedule is required so we have enough time to socialize and learn without major chaos on the parking lots before or after these Masses.
 
I am fully aware that time changes to Mass schedules are among the most delicate issues a pastor faces. The current Sunday morning Mass schedule has existed at St. Francis for many, many years and I know people have important reasons for selecting a Mass time that best suits their needs. I am also aware that there is a major pastoral need for us to provide intentional and ongoing formation for the adults of our parish.
 
EFFECTIVE SUNDAY, AUGUST 15: On this day, we will also restart our late-morning Sunday Mass. Our Sunday morning Mass schedule will be:
 
            7:15am                        9:00am                        11:45am
 
We will shift the 9:30am Mass to 9:00am. We will continue to livestream the mid-morning Mass as was announced a few weeks ago. The Saturday and Sunday evening Mass schedule remains unchanged.
 
The timing of this shift in mid-August will give us a few weeks to adjust to the schedule prior to the start of our fall faith formation programs. Once these programs begin in September, this adjustment will allow for faith formation of children and adults to take place between the conclusion of the 9:00am Mass and the beginning of the 11:45am Mass. Those coming for adult formation on Sunday and who would prefer to worship that morning as well will be able to go to Mass either before the adult formation sessions or after them. This also becomes an exciting new format for parents to be fed as first teachers in their children’s faith as their younger children participate in faith formation on Sunday morning. 
 
This is not a perfect solution for everyone at St. Francis. We took time to consider the impact this revised schedule will have on a variety of groups and individuals but believe this is the best solution for the vast majority of parishioners. I am grateful for your willingness to try this for a year to see if this can create a space for ongoing faith formation of our adult community while not seriously affecting a Mass schedule rhythm we have become accustomed to over several decades.
 
Msgr. Clay
 
 
 
June 14, 2021

Dear St. Francis Family:
 
Last week I promised to send along information about updates to our liturgy protocols and am now able to share them with you. Our Task Force has recommended and I have approved the following changes:
  • Effective Saturday, June 19, masks are optional at the 5:30pm Saturday and 9:30am Sunday Masses for those who are fully vaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated must continue to wear masks. These protocols also apply for those celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturdays.
  • At these two Masses, a section of the church (the baptistery side) will be set apart for those who still desire to practice social distancing. Masks will still be required in this section for these two Masses.  
  • Out of consideration for those who desire to come to Mass but cannot unless everyone is masked, the Sunday 5:30pm Mass will continue to require all attending to wear masks for the time being. The transepts (baptistery and choir sides) will be reserved for those who wish to practice social distancing in addition to wearing masks.
  • Effective Monday, June 21, at the 9am daily Mass, masks are optional for those who are fully vaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated must continue to wear masks. The baptistery side of the church will be set apart for those who also desire to practice social distancing. 
 
These changes are temporary and as we receive more guidance from our Task Force and state and local health officials, we will continue to modify protocols as appropriate. As a reminder, the protocols below were announced last week:
 
  • Registration is no longer required for any Mass.
  • Starting Monday, June 14, our daily Masses will return to their traditional 9am time. All daily Masses are open to the public and will be held in the church until the chapel repairs are complete. 
  • The livestream Mass will continue to be available, even after things are back to “normal.” This will most likely be the mid-morning Mass. 
  • We are looking at restoring an additional Mass to our weekend liturgy schedule, most likely sometime next month. 
 
Thank you for your patience and assistance in maintaining our safety protocols as we strive to keep everyone in our community safe, my highest priority during this pandemic, especially those most vulnerable and those who are unable to receive vaccines. I extend a special thank you to our Task Force for their tireless dedication and commitment to our safety. I look forward to the day when we can all fully and safely gather here at St. Francis, without any restrictions. Until then, we persevere in prayer and look forward in hope.
 
Msgr. Michael

Update to Parish Protocols

June 10, 2021

Dear St. Francis Family:

I write to update you on some upcoming changes to our liturgical life at St. Francis as we move slowly but surely back to our normal parish life. As you know, we have a Pandemic Task Force comprised of doctors, public health officials, staff, etc. who have been guiding us since the pandemic began. They have been extraordinary in their service and their collective wisdom. Their counsel has been nothing short of remarkable. The Task Force is keeping abreast of the ever-changing recommendations from national, state, and local officials and health organizations and guiding me so our protocols reflect this changing environment. I am happy to share the following protocol updates with you, for which the Task Force has given its “thumbs up:”

 

·        Beginning this weekend, June 12-13, registration is no longer required for any Mass. However, this weekend we will maintain our mask protocols as long as you are inside our buildings.
·        We will be sending additional information via a parish-wide email on Monday, June 14, with further adjustments to our protocols.
·        Effective this Monday, June 14, our daily Masses will return to their traditional 9AM time, Monday through Friday. All daily Masses are open to the public and will be held in the church until the chapel repairs are complete.
·        The virtual Mass will continue to be available, even after things are back to “normal.” This will most likely be the mid-morning Mass.

·         We are looking at restoring an additional Mass to our weekend liturgy schedule, most likely sometime next month.

 

I extend a special thank you to our Task Force for their dedication and commitment to keep us all safe, my highest priority during this pandemic. I also thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue forward to the day when we are fully gathered again at St. Francis.

 

Msgr. Michael

May 26, 2021

“Forward in Hope: Our Parish’s Journey of Resurrection”

Our Resurrection Committee continues to meet to discern the best way forward for our parish’s return to fully-gathered ministry. Here are this week’s updates:

  • Starting Monday, June 7, the church building will be open from 9:00am to 12:30pm, Monday through Friday. This will allow time for private prayer and devotion, opportunities for Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist access to the tabernacle, and interaction with our parish receptionists before and after daily Mass.
  • Masks are still required upon entering any building on campus and must cover the mouth and nose for the duration of your time indoors.
  • Designated ministries are beginning to come back to campus. At this time, we are only scheduling meetings for those designated ministries. Unless your ministry has been contacted by its ministry liaison, please do not call or email to schedule a meeting. If you are uncertain about your ministry’s status, please contact your ministry leader and/or liaison.
  • Because major maintenance is beginning on the boiler/chiller system for the Community Center, Chapel, Siena Center, and Elizabeth Halls, these spaces will be temporarily unavailable. Facility usage will be considered given these constraints.

Once again, we thank you for your patience and prayers as we work our way along this journey of resurrection. Please continue to watch this space for updates and information on some exciting and fun events that are in the works to celebrate our full return to campus in the near future!

Peace and all good,
The Resurrection Committee

—————————————

May 21, 2021

By : Jenn Fiduccia

“Forward in Hope: Our Parish’s Journey of Resurrection”

In this weekend’s Gospel, on the Feast of Pentecost, we hear the Risen Jesus say, “Peace be with you,” as he stands in the midst of his disciples. We want to extend that same message of peace to you, brothers and sisters, and pray that the peace of our Risen Lord and the grace and wisdom of the Holy Spirit is with our  community as we enter this new phase of the pandemic, a phase of “resurrection.”

At the direction of our pastor, Msgr. Clay, a committee has been formed and is meeting to discern the next steps for our parish in our efforts to return to fully-gathered ministry and activity on campus. This committed wrestled with what to name this new phase. “Re-opening” did not seem quite right as many aspects of our community have still been “open,” most notably our schools and our liturgies. We also struggled with other phrases, none of which suited. In the spirit of the Easter season, we landed on the theme of resurrection, which acknowledges both the losses we have had to endure in the past eighteen months (loss of social interactions, loss of employment, loss of physical present with loved ones, loss of loved ones through death, and more) and also the hope that we hold as baptized believers – that in time, God makes all things new. It is our intent to communicate the process of our parish’s return to fully-gathered ministry on a regular basis in this section of the bulletin.

To aid in its discernment, our Resurrection Committee is in conversation with parish leadership, ministry leaders, and community members. It is keeping abreast of the continually changing recommendations from national, state, and local officials and health organizations, and spending time in prayer and discernment. Ministry groups of the parish were surveyed about their needs and their responses have assisted in determining the order in which groups will return to use our campus facilities. Here is a quick overview of our progress thus far:

·         The weekend of May 15-16, the capacity at weekend liturgies was increased to 600. While masks are still required for all, there is no social distancing in the main nave of the church. The side transepts are reserved for those who still desire to keep socially distant from others. Both entrances to the church are now being used for entrance and egress.

·         In early-to-mid June the main church will be open from 9:00am to 12:30pm, Monday-Friday, and Saturday, Noon-7:00pm. This will allow time for private prayer and devotion, Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist access to the tabernacle, and interaction with our parish receptionists before and after daily Mass.

·         The Welcome Center desk will be staffed whenever the volunteer receptionists are ready to go and they will once again be available for assistance.

·         Designated ministries will begin to come back to campus starting in early June. Because major maintenance is beginning on the boiler/chiller system for the Community Center, Chapel, Siena Center, and Elizabeth Halls these spaces will be temporarily unavailable. Facility usage will be considered given these constraints.

Thank you for your patience and prayers as we work our way along this journey of resurrection. Please continue to watch this space for updates and new information. May the Spirit, first given to the Church at Pentecost, be poured out upon our community and move in new and powerful ways. Peace and all good, brothers and sisters!

 Peace and all good,

Jenn Fiduccia

 Director of Formation

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community

11401 Leesville Road

Raleigh, NC 27613

919.847.8205 x238

www.stfrancisraleigh.org

 

May 14, 2021

St. Francis Announces New COVID-19 Adjustments to Church Protocols

Dear St. Francis Family:

The CDC and Governor Cooper just announced some great news in light of progress we are making to overcome the coronavirus. In light of this news, we will make additional adjustments to our Mass protocols beginning Saturday, May 15.  These adjustments are as follows:

  1. Maximum seating at each of the three weekend Masses is increased to 600 people per Mass
  2. Registration for each Mass remains in effect through the parish website
  3. The central seating area of the church where the main aisle is located (the nave) will be open seating with no social distancing required
  4. The side seating areas of the church, respectively on the side of the baptistery and the music area (the transepts), will remain reserved for those who need or desire social distancing accommodations with liturgy volunteers assisting those who prefer to sit in these two sections of the church
  5. Masks are still required inside the church for everyone ages 2 and above out of concern for the common good
  6. Masks are no longer required by anyone outside the church
  7. The two entrances to the church are now available for entrance and egress
  8. All other current safety protocols remain in effect
  9. The 9:30am Mass will continue to be livestreamed
  10. The Sunday obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended by Bishop Zarama

The Franciscan School at the St. Francis Pre-School will maintain their current protocols until they receive further direction from the diocesan Office of Schools.

 There may likely be further adjustments announced once we have a few more days to process this new information from the CDC and the Governor’s Office. Stay tuned!

 Always remember:  The development and execution of our safety protocols are always made with the endorsement of the parish’s Liturgy Task Force, comprised of medical experts and members of our staff, and in conformity with the guidance of the CDC and Governor’s Office and always have as their highest priority the safety of everyone who worships with us, especially the most vulnerable.

 Msgr. Clay

HELPFUL INFORMATION

From CDC: What you need to know about Coronavirus
From CDC: Preparations for people at High Risk
From CDC: Steps to Prevent Illness
From CDC: Recommendations if you or an immediate family member is sick

CDC Sick Fact Sheet

CDC Steps When Sick

 If you believe you or an immediate family member may have been exposed to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), 
Please call your local health department, in Wake County, call 919-250-4462. 
You should also call your doctor to tell them your situation.   

To keep from spreading respiratory illness to others,
a
nyone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus/COVID-19
or member in the same household has been quarantined due to a diagnoses
by a medical professional or the NC Health Department should, 

Stay home.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor.

Notify employer, school administration, or parish staff liaison of the diagnosis.

·   

 

 

Call Now ButtonCall St. Francis