Gov. Cuomo’s Surprise Announcement On Re-opening

Dear St. Michael’s Parishioners and Friends,

As you may know, on Saturday, June 6, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in his daily Coronavirus news conference that churches and other houses of worship may open immediately, with the caveat of allowing only 25% of occupancy or capacity.    

While this announcement is most welcome for all peoples of Faith, it nonetheless was totally unexpected, and, quite frankly, caught us all off guard.  

In the Diocese of Albany, already parishes were preparing to re-open, but were just in the beginning stages. Earlier guidance from the state put churches in Phase 4 of the reopening plan. Based on the current Phase (we are now in Phase 2) that we are in and the two-week wait between each phase, churches and houses of worship would not have been able to reopen much before mid to late July.

With the Governor’s unexpected announcement, the Diocese of Albany has announced that parishes which meet the various requirements for re-opening as established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State and its own metrics, may do so immediately.

St. Michael’s is not yet ready because we don’t yet meet diocesan, state and CDC requirements.

But we plan to work very hard to get ourselves ready!

Like most parishes, we have established a Re-Opening Committee, as required by the Diocese, which has the responsibility of ensuring that the parish is working to meet the requirements necessary to be able to re-open safely and in accord with all required guidelines and directives as referenced above. These requirements are detailed on the Diocese of Albany website. You may read this and other important related information at the following links:

https://www.rcda.org/coronavirus/timely-instructions

https://www.rcda.org/coronavirus

We have to complete a number of steps in order to reopen, but we will work over the next week or two to try to be able to reopen soon, possibly the weekend of June 20 and 21 – Father’s Day weekend.

This is only an estimate and it may not happen then.  Please consult our parish website and Facebook page frequently for the latest updates on this.

Also, the Governor’s announcement stated that each church or house of worship could open with 25% of capacity or occupancy being present.   For St. Michael’s, that would ideally equal approximately 125 persons, using a total capacity of approximately 500.  

Based on social distancing requirements and other safety protocols from federal and state authorities, we are working out how many people we can seat for a Mass at least to start with. We hope to be able to sit as many parishioners as possible.

Also, everyone MUST wear a face mask.

There will be changes in the sanctuary to ensure safety, including taping off pews and removing chairs in order to comply with those requirements and protocols.

In addition, we expect there will be other requirements for those attending Mass, which will be spelled out in the coming days.

Those changes won’t be permanent, but will be in effect until the pandemic and health emergency are no longer in force.

Please also be mindful that all persons aged 60 and older who are the most susceptible for catching Coronavirus, as well as anyone who may have an underlying health issue, are encouraged to continue to remain safely at home and watch Mass via our livestream.  

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass has been extended for those who are either 60 years old or who have any health concerns or who may just not be comfortable returning to church yet.  

As we work with added diligence to be able to re-open as soon as possible, please know that it will only be possible when we have fully prepared as best as possible to ensure each person’s safety yo the best of our ability.    

Please continue to be patient and understanding. All of this is un-chartered territory for us and we are doing our best to be able to re-open as quickly but as safely as we can. Your continued understanding, patience and support are greatly appreciated.

May God bless you. Take care.

Father Tony Childs
St. Michael The Archangel Pastor