Reopening Plan for Ascension Church amid COVID-19

 
 
May 18, 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy. As you may have seen, Cardinal Cupich recently shared our multi-phased plan for reopening churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Specifically,
  • Phase I allows for parishes to reopen for Baptism, Reconciliation, Weddings and Funerals with a limit of 10 attendees.
  • Phase IA allows for parishes to reopen for private prayer and adoration with a limit of 10 attendees.
  • Phase II allows for reopening for weekday and weekend Masses for larger groups depending on the guidelines from the state and the capacity of the church building.
 
Our Ascension Parish Reopening Plan
 
First and foremost, it is important for everyone to understand that our efforts will prioritize the safety and well-being of all while maintaining due respect and reverence for the sacraments and liturgical norms of our faith.
 
I have assembled a Parish Reopening Leadership Team comprised of staff and parishioners. Join me in thanking them for leading us in this important effort.
 
CO-LEADERS
Diane Lawrence, staff - Coordinator of Religious Education
Jim Wojcik, staff - Liturgy Coordinator & Office Administrator
 
CO-CAPTAINS
Set-up Captain: Terri Monaco, parishioner
Greeter Captain: Tom Gull, parishioner
Cleaning Captain: George Lyons, parishioner
 
Our leadership team will attend required training from the Archdiocese to ensure that our parish reopening plan conforms to the guidelines developed by the Archdiocese in collaboration with civil and healthcare authorities. We have started gathering the necessary protective and cleaning supplies and will also receive from the Archdiocese a starter kit of protective and cleaning supplies and guidance on purchasing/maintaining supplies ongoing.
 
Volunteers Needed!
 
To be successful, we will need volunteers to assist with various aspects of our parish reopening plan. Importantly, volunteers must not be part of a “vulnerable population” (that is, not over the age of 65; no underlying medical condition such as diabetes; lung disease; undergoing cancer treatment, etc.). I ask all of you who are between the ages of 18 and 65 and healthy with no underlying health conditions to consider assisting with one of three reopening teams (Parents, your college-aged children are welcome!):
 
  • Set-up team (Led by Terri Monaco). Sample duties include ensuring that all supplies needed for each sacramental celebration/gathering are ready for use, entrances and exits are marked and propped physically open prior to attendees’ arrival/departure, windows are opened, etc.
  • Greeting team (Led by Tom Gull). Sample duties include assisting in managing the flow of congregants as they enter the church, making sure attendees use hand sanitizer upon entering, are wearing a mask, and are reminded not to enter if ill; directing people to appropriate seating/waiting areas, etc.
  • Cleaning team (Led by George Lyons). Sample duties include maintaining and cleaning essential and trafficked areas of the church before and after the church has been used. Masks and gloves will be provided in addition to approved cleaning/disinfecting supplies.
The Reopening Leadership Team and I will make sure that all volunteers are properly trained.
 
 
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
TO INDICATE YOUR WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO VOLUNTEER, 
please send an email to Jim Wojcik at
 
 
 
Timing for Our Reopening
 
As I mentioned, the Parish Reopening Leadership Team members and I will need to complete required training, which will take place this week. Once we complete the training, we will need to review and complete tasks assigned to all parishes as part of a reopening certification process to be approved by the Archdiocese. Our parish, like all others in the archdiocese, will move forward as quickly as possible, yet at a pace and timing appropriate for our own situation.
 
Following our training and certification approval, we will only open our church once the Reopening Leadership Team and I feel confident that we have the right volunteers in place to make it possible to reopen. Again, the need for parishioner assistance cannot be overstated.
 
The guidelines and measures required to reopen are designed to protect our well-being and that of the broader community. As Cardinal Cupich has noted, from the first pages of Scripture we learn that we indeed are “our brother’s keeper.” Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed, “that they all may be one” (Jn 17:21) and commanded us “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). Our collective patience, willingness to help and the care we take to reopen is a demonstration of our unity and love for one another.
 
May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways. If you have any questions, please contact me at j.hurlbert@ascensionoakpark.com. If you would like to indicate your willingness to volunteer, email Jim Wojcik at j.wojcik@ascensionoakpark.com.
 
Sincerely yours in Christ,
 
Fr. Hurlbert