Berlin, NJ

Safety and Health Protocols

The Parish staff, safety and health committee and the clergy are committed for safety of everyone attending Masses.

Here are the safe and health guidelines:

  1. The dispensation for the faithful from the obligation to participate in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days remains (as of October 28, 2020). In other words, you are NOT REQUIRED to attend Mass at this time, and please stay home if you are sick or if you are at a higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19. Also, the elderly and families with young children (who may find it challenging to observe social distancing from others) are encouraged to stay home.
  2. We are only allowed to have a limited number of people inside the church building, and not exceed 30% occupancy in the church. Hence, parishioners need to make the reservation.

    Step 1. Go to www.stsimonstock.net.

    Step 2. Select your Mass time you plan to attend. The Masses are at 4:00 PM (Saturday), 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, and 12:00 PM (Sunday).

    Step 3. Indicate the number of people who are coming with you (if any) to Mass. Then, you will receive an email confirming your reservation. If you need assistance to make the reservation, please call the office.

  3. I remind the faithful that on any given day when they have a cough or feel sick, that they are not to participate in Mass or visit the Church for any ceremony.
  4. Our parish will provide hand sanitizer at the entrance(s) of the Church. Please used doors clearly marked as ENTRANCE ONLY and EXIT ONLY.
  5. Our church will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected twice a week, and sanitize after every Mass. The church will be closed on Friday to have our cleaners to do their job.
  6. Our maintenance and team of volunteers will regularly clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces in the Church between Masses.
  7. Under current public health recommendations, the faithful should wear cloth face coverings when in public, including when they come to Church, with the exception of young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  8. For the safety of everyone, we will maintain strict physical distancing of six feet.

    (a). The faithful are to observe social distance from each other at all times.

    (b) Members of a single household do not need to practice physical distancing with each other. They may sit together in the same row.

    (c) Competent volunteers (wearing masks and gloves) are stationed at the entrances of the church to help “direct traffic,” to ensure that the faithful keep the social distanced required from each other while entering and exiting the building.

    (d) Doors are to be propped open as people enter and leave the church so that people do not need to touch the door handles.

  9. When we reach the maximum number of parishioners allowed at Mass (due to social distancing), the online registration will be closed.
  10. All Catholics in the Diocese of Camden are likewise dispensed from the requirement to make their Easter Duty this year.
  11. I encourage the faithful to maintain physical distancing everywhere on the church property (on the church steps, in the parking lot, etc.).
  12. I remind our parishioners to use the restroom BEFORE they come to church. Restrooms are sanitized after each Mass (not after each use) and should be used for emergency only.

For the celebration of Mass

  1. The priest celebrant and other ministers are to wear masks during the celebration of Mass except when they are in the sanctuary. We will maintain more than 6 feet from the congregation during the entirety of the Mass. In such circumstances, there is no substantial risk of infection.
  2. To the extent possible, the other ministers (a deacon, lectors and musicians) should maintain a 6-foot distance from the priest and from each other. All ministers must maintain a proper distance in the sacristy and during the entrance and recessional processions.
  3. Holding hands during the Our Father is not permitted except among family members. The invitation to the faithful to exchange a sign of peace is by wave or nod only.

The Distribution of Holy Communion

  1. Holy Communion is to be distributed during the celebration of the Mass. The faithful are invited to come forward but has the freedom to determine whether or not they will receive Holy Communion (some may be nervous about doing so).
  2. The priest (and any other ministers distributing Holy Communion) should use hand sanitizer immediately before approaching the tabernacle. The priest and each extraordinary minister should don a surgical mask or cloth face covering.
  3. In an effort to promote social distancing, keeping people from climbing over each other, and moving smoothly, we need to put the following procedure in place. When it is time for a row to come up for Communion the ENTIRE ROW will come up. If someone does not wish to receive Communion, they must still leave their seat and get in line. Then they will simply fold their arms across their chest and receive a blessing from the priest or EM. After receiving Communion or a blessing everyone will return to their seat.
  4. The Precious Blood is not be distributed to the faithful, nor should the faithful receive the Eucharist by intinction.
  5. The priest (and other ministers if present) proceeds to the place prepared for distribution of Communion. Each stands next to a table with corporal and hand sanitizer in order to distribute Communion.
  6. When receiving Holy Communion in your hands, remove gloves, and make your hand flat so as not to touch the minister’s hand. Then step to the side, remove your face covering, consume the host, and cover your face again. Please observe physical distancing with other families. Hand sanitizers are available to use in, and around the church.
  7. Those distributing Holy Communion must continue to sanitize their hands and wear a mask or face covering.
  8. Those receiving Holy Communion on the tongue may do so and wait until everyone else has received and should go to where the priest is. The faithful should approach the altar in a single line and at a distance of six feet between communicants.

These guidelines may seem extreme to some and too little for others. Please be considerate of how others feel. Please be kind and respectful always.