The information below is how we are responding as a parish to the COVID-19 pandemic as a parish. Please visit this page frequently to keep informed.
A Note From Fr. Bill (6/15/20)
On 12 June, Bishop Folda sent a memo to the priests of the Diocese in which he wrote: “it is now possible to reduce the restrictiveness of some of the directives which came into effect on May 4.” (See below for text.) He reiterated that “the dispensation from the Sunday obligation still remains in effect,” but also told us that “it is appropriate to encourage the faithful who are not at higher risk from COVID-19 to return to Mass.”
Update on Preparing the Liturgy (11-19-20)
- The Mayor of the City of Fargo issued an amended Executive Order on Nov. 16, 2020, effective through Dec. 15, 2020, which removes the limit on occupancy for churches that had been imposed by an Executive Order from a few days earlier. Churches are now required only to follow the recommendations of our state’s North Dakota Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in coordination with Fargo Cass Public Health. These include wearing of masks, proper social distancing, and hand hygiene, and we have been doing these as a Nativity community since March. So, for us, everything is as it was before issuing these Executive Orders! I thank you for your patience during these challenging and changing times.
- I appreciate the efforts of our Nativity community to wear masks, as this is a sign of charity: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “a cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.” The knowledge that all are wearing masks may help some to overcome their fears and return to Mass.
- Please wash your hands before leaving home, or here at Nativity after you arrive, or both.
- Bring along your own hand sanitizer to use before and after communion-Fr. Bill Gerlach
*At the end of the liturgy, ushers will be available to help with dismissal: please leave by rows, west side first, from back to front; then the main section, back to front. A big thank you to our ushers, often assisted by our greeters, who have been so helpful with dismissal and disinfecting the church after each liturgy.
*Bulletins will be available near all the entrances to take as you leave.
BISHOP FOLDA’S LETTER REOPENING CHURCHS
30 April 2020
To the Faithful of the Diocese of Fargo:
The COVID-19 health crisis has led to extraordinary measures being taken throughout the world. As Catholics, we have a serious responsibility, not only in charity, but in justice, to prevent the spread of this disease to those who are most vulnerable. On March 17, 2020, I made the difficult decision to cancel public celebrations of the Mass, other sacraments, and parish events for a limited time.
After consulting with experts, I judge that provided we diligently observe the safety protocols which I elaborate below, we can reasonably resume the public celebration of the Mass and other sacraments beginning on May 4. I am grateful for the patience and cooperation of the faithful during this difficult time without the ability to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, and I once again call upon their good will to observe the guidelines listed below for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the entire community.
Therefore, effective Monday, May 4, the following directives are to be observed throughout the Diocese of Fargo until further notice:
- The faithful are dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass.
- Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those exposed to someone with COVID-19 should follow quarantine guidance from medical professionals.
- Those who are at higher risk from COVID-19 (i.e. those who are older or who have underlying health conditions) are strongly encouraged to stay home. If they have spiritual needs, they should contact their parish priest.
- Anyone with a cough of any sort, and anyone feeling sick, should not come to the church for a visit or for any public liturgies or activities.
- The Diocese of Fargo will continue to livestream Masses for the good of those who cannot attend.
- In accord with current public health recommendations, the faithful should practice good hand hygiene, washing their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- In accord with current public health recommendations, the faithful should wear cloth face coverings when they come to church. Please remember that face coverings are not just for one’s own protection, but also for the protection of others. (See CDC recommendations on face coverings.) Children under 2 years of age are not recommended to wear a face covering.
- Federal and state guidelines for strict physical distancing will be observed, namely, the faithful should maintain a 6-foot distance from each other at all times.
- Members of a single household do not need to practice physical distancing with each other, but will need to practice it with those who are not members of their household.
- The 6-foot distance should be maintained not only in the pews, but in all spaces within the church complex.
- In order to follow guidelines for physical distancing the number of persons admitted to each church at any given time will be limited.
- Because the virus seems to be spread largely by dispersion of respiratory droplets, and vigorous singing tends to produce such droplets, congregational singing and singing in choirs is not allowed.
- Although the faithful are entitled to receive Holy Communion either on the tongue or in the hands, in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, the extraordinary measure will be taken of only receiving Holy Communion in the hand. For this to have its intended effect, however, the faithful must practice good hand hygiene.
- These directives are subject to change, depending on the development of the COVID-19 health crisis.
I am confident that the return to the public celebration of the Mass will be an occasion of great joy for the faithful of our diocese. Following these directives during the celebration of the Mass will feel strange, as it should, since they are extraordinary measures only adopted out of necessity. Nevertheless, our Lord, Jesus Christ, is always present in the Church’s liturgical celebrations, most especially in the Eucharist. The awkwardness of the current situation need not distract us from his presence, nor prevent us from receiving him with open and eager hearts. And may our renewed encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist fill us with his charity, that we may in turn love and care for our brothers and sisters.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Most Rev. John T. Folda
Bishop of Fargo
Very Rev. Andrew Jasinski
What Can I Do If I Can’t Attend Mass?
Can’t Make it to Mass? Then perform a Spiritual Communion
Dioceses all across the country are temporarily canceling Sunday and daily Masses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Diocese of Fargo among them. So what can Catholics do to stay true to their faith when they are unable to receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?
The Church says one can make a “Spiritual Communion.” But how does one do that? There are many ways to pause during the day and unite with the Lord when partaking in the Eucharist isn’t possible. Here’s an idea of what you can do alone or with your family. The Diocese of Fargo sponsors a broadcast of the Sunday Mass every Sunday morning at 10:30 AM on WDAY/WDAZ TV in Fargo and Grand Forks. Or, an on-line Mass may be more convenient. If that’s not possible, you may do the following at home:
1. Say the Profession of Faith
2. Read from the readings for that day’s Mass
3. Say the Our Father
Whether you watch a televised Mass or pray together at home, include this beautiful prayer:
My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you Sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you.
– From The Diocese of Fargo Website
- Diocese of Fargo Daily Mass / Sunday Mass
- The Sunday Mass https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwZimeG164HjPyaOV-G6uHg
- CatholicTV Network https://www.watchthemass.com/ (Spanish Mass available)
- EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) daily mass https://video.ewtn.com/daily-mass/
- Word on Fire https://www.wordonfire.org/
Guidance has been received from the diocese that scheduled times for Reconciliation are permitted, ensuring that social distancing is observed (6 feet between people). Therefore, the regular Reconciliation time of 3:30-4:30 pm on Saturdays is being restored effective March 28th. Please do not line up, but remain scattered through the church as a precaution and take turns as well as you can. As always, you can also call for an appointment.