Rationale for Pandemic Programming, December 2, 2020
QUESTION: Why are we continuing to offer onsite formation opportunities in Youth Ministry and Faith Formation here at St. Michael and St. Albert?
ANSWER: To be clear, we are focused on compliance with Minnesota Department of Health protocols, the Governor’s executive orders and guidance from the Archdiocese. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of miscommunication and misinformation going around, and our hope is to bring clarity to this ever-changing situation.
First and foremost, we recommend that you read the attached PDF on youth activities issued on November 18 by the Minnesota Department of Health. It begins with this statement: “At this time, in accordance with Executive Order 20-99 (EO), youth programs as defined by EO 20-99 and further delineated in this guidance may continue to operate [emphasis added] during the four weeks from Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.”
The Archdiocese also contacted the Minnesota Department of Health for more clarity, and they stated:
A phone call to MDH confirmed that our activities are not the source of the current spike, are not what the governor’s office is concerned about and are not the target of Executive Orders 20-96. They recommend that the scope of EO 20-99, particularly the sections on Activities Outside the Home and Youth Programs, does not apply to faith formation (K through Adult) or youth ministry programs and activities. Please continue to keep those activities focused on forming people in the faith and avoid any gatherings that are primarily social in nature.
Some confusion also arose from Archbishop Hebda’s letter to pastors, in which he said, “Between now and Christmas, I would ask you to focus on providing those services that are truly essential to our mission [emphasis added]. Please continue to celebrate Mass and the sacraments, following our safety and sanitization procedures and protocols, but consider postponing or moving into the virtual realm all other parish meetings, groups and initiatives.”
We were unsure what he was referring to, because we can differ on what we think is “truly essential to our mission.” When we reached out to the Archdiocese, they said, “To clarify, you may continue to provide in-person religious education and youth ministry events and activities. These formational opportunities are essential to mission of the Church.” However, there were some recommendations that we have implemented now in order to protect our families and communities. We are no longer hosting in-home D-Group meetings; they are either virtual or meeting onsite, as long they follow the COVID preparedness plan for meeting in the parish.
The state has made clear that we were to establish a COVID preparedness plan, which has continued to evolve and change following the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health. The only big change to our plan at this time is addition of ventilation improvement guidance. Please see our revised COVID preparedness plan for more clarity and information on how we are striving to follow the states guidelines and keep our children safe.
As stated in the Minnesota Departments of Health guidance, any activity which involves groups has risks for exposure to COVID-19, however, we are doing everything we can to follow their guidance and implement a COVID-19 preparedness plan. Knowing this, we totally understand and respect any family’s decision to not allow their child to participate in any events that we are offering. We will do all we can to offer virtual tools and opportunities to grow in your faith during this time. Please visit our parish websites or our combined Youth Ministry site: www.stmacatholicyouth.org for more information and opportunities for and your child to grow closer to Christ during this Advent season.
Lastly, we would like to make it clear that the decision to offer onsite formation and youth ministry activities and events was a group decision, led by our pastor, Father Park, and our parish leadership team, parish staff and youth ministers, consulting all the state and Archdiocesan guidelines and policies. Our intention is to maintain our parish’s and Church’s essential mission—“We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.” – Pope Paul VI—as well as maintain a safe environment. We will continue to monitor and follow all guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health, Governor Walz and the Archdiocese and will notify families if there are any changes or cancellation to upcoming events.
Masks at Church Beginning July 25
Coronavirus Decisionmaking Principles
Thursday, July 23, 2020
In light of the governor’s mandate, Archbishop Hebda has announced that, beginning this Saturday, July 25th, masks will be required when you come to church unless you have a health condition that prevents you from wearing one. We will have masks on hand if you forget to bring one.
I know this is controversial, but I ask you to be respectful of the archbishop and of those in our community rejoining us now that masks are expected.
Click here to watch Archbishop Hebda’s video on the importance of wearing a mask when you come to church. More information on the governor’s order is available at the links below.
God bless you all, and please continue to pray for a swift end to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fr. Brian Park
For More Information
Limited Public Masses, Indoor Confessions Resumed
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Limited public Masses are now available according to our regular schedule. Read Fr. Richards's letter to parishioners from last week for more information; more detailed protocols are also available for review. Please understand that no one is required to attend Mass if they are not comfortable or if it is unsafe for them to do so. The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation continues to be dispensed for all Catholics. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or are caring for or living with sick persons, please stay home until your health care provider says it is safe to be around other people.
Confessions have also moved back into the church. They are in the area where people usually wait to go to Confession to allow for both privacy and social distancing. The line for confession will be near the statuary apse. On Tuesday evenings, a second Confession area will set up in the Gathering Space. Please maintain at least six feet in line for Confession.
Parish and School Communications
The best source for Youth Ministry updates is the STMA Catholic Youth Ministry webpage.
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