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Resumption of Public Liturgies in
the Time of Public Health Concern

Sunday/Weekday Mass

Directives and Guidelines for the
Diocese of Youngstown ~ May 2020


In light of the decision to resume the celebration of public Masses and liturgies by the Bishops of Ohio, the following Directives and Guidelines are issued for all parishes of the Diocese of Youngstown.  These take into consideration how to best proceed under these unusual circumstances while remaining pastorally sensitive to the People of God and adhering to restrictions issued by the State of Ohio.  The guidance provided aims to clarify how such spiritual care can be responsibly offered to the faithful during this period and have been formulated with great care to preserve and respect the powerful liturgical and sacramental symbolism of the rites of the Mass.  These directives/guidelines currently remain in effect by order of Bishop Murry and will be revised or changed should any further directives be issued by the Governor of Ohio, the Bishops of Ohio, or Bishop Murry.  They are considered to be temporary until it is determined safe to return to the normal circumstances.



The Catholic faithful who reside in the Diocese of Youngstown and all other Catholics in the diocese and especially those who are sick, or at high risk of becoming sick continue to be dispensed from their Sunday obligation until further notice.  The Easter Duty obligation is extended for a period of one year from the end of the Easter Season 2020.


  • General Guidelines

  1. Understanding the desire of many to return to church, it remains important for those who are at greater risk to refrain from returning until such time they feel comfortable and confident to do so.

  2. Those who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to another with the virus within 14 days should not attend Mass in accordance with national, state and local health directives.

  3. Parishes are encouraged to continue to live-stream Mass so that those unable to attend may maintain a spiritual connection with their local parish.

  4. Appropriate cleaning of high use areas within the church is to be done before and after each service.

    1. The pews/seating area utilized by the assembly and the ambo should be wiped down with disinfectant.

    2. Holy water fonts are to remain empty until further notice.

    3. All hymnals/missalettes are to be removed and stored for the time being.  At each Mass, disposable worship aids should be distributed, and then discarded.  Appropriate copyright licenses are to be respected.

    4. Restrooms, door handles, push plates, knobs and elevators (if applicable) are to be sanitized after each liturgy.  Doors might be propped open to lessen contact.

  5. Every effort to ensure appropriate physical distancing before, during, and after liturgical celebrations is required.  Methods will vary depending on capacity and arrangement of church buildings.

    1. Other than immediate family members/household units, worshippers should be seated six feet apart.  Consider using every other pew/row for each Mass and alternating pews/rows per Mass. (i.e. one set of pews for one Mass, the other set of pews for the next Mass etc. to reduce the amount of cleaning between Masses.)

    2. Allow for distance within each pew/row between worshippers.

  6. Cry Rooms or enclosed spaces for families with small children should not be available.

  7. Large gatherings before or after Mass are to be discouraged.

  8. While not mandatory, worshippers may wear masks or face coverings.                                                      (At St. John Paul II Parish MASKS ARE REQUIRED OR PERSONS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED ENTRY!)

  9. Post limits on the amount of people able to be in restrooms at the same time.

  10. If possible, sanitizer should be made available at all entrances.

  11. Liturgical vestments including server albs are to be cleaned/laundered regularly.

  12. Presiders, Deacons, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should wash their hands before Mass, discreetly use hand sanitizer immediately before the distribution of Holy Communion, and wash their hands after Mass being mindful not to touch their face, eyes or nose.

  13. Pastors/Parish Leaders and liturgical ministers should make every effort to continually model and encourage good hygienic practices.



  • Before Mass

  1. All liturgical ministers are to adhere to physical distancing conditions before, during, and after Mass.

    1. Deacons:  A Deacon may serve at Mass and is to maintain and adhere to physical distancing throughout.  Holy Communion from the chalice is currently suspended; therefore the deacon may serve as a minister of Holy Communion serving the host.

    2. Altar Servers:  It is recommended that a minimal number needed (one or no more than two) be used for each Mass and adhere to physical distancing.  The altar server(s) is to wash their hands immediately before Mass begins.

    3. Music Ministry:  Pastoral musicians, cantors, choirs, and ensembles should adhere to physical distancing.  Consideration should be given to reducing the role of choirs and ensembles for the time being.  The same safeguards should be observed for all rehearsals.

    4. Lectors:  It is recommended that a minimal number needed be used for each Mass and that the Lectionary, Book of the Gospels and ambo be sanitized for each Mass.

    5. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion:  It is recommended that a minimal number needed be used for each Mass and that all ministers wash their hands immediately before Mass begins, before distributing Holy Communion, and after Mass.  Liturgical vessels should continue to be washed after each Mass in hot soapy water.

    6. Hospitality Ministers:  It is recommended that a minimal number needed be used for each Mass and they should assist directing people to appropriate seating areas.  Doors should be propped open to avoid contact.



  • During Mass

  1. Entrance Procession:  The entrance procession may happen in the normal way.  All ministers in the procession are to maintain physical distance.  Reverence to the sanctuary should be done with proper distance between all ministers.

    1. Note:  The presider and other ministers should not wear masks or gloves during the celebration of Mass.  The Mass is imbued with powerful sacramental and liturgical symbolism.  Wearing a mask and gloves would be a detrimental counter-sign in this context, and it is not warranted by considerations of hygiene if a proper distance from the congregation is maintained.

  2. Introductory Rite:  The altar server is not to hold the book for the presider for any of the presidential prayers.  The Roman Missal, Book of the Chair, or a presider’s book could be placed on a stand at the chair or held by the presider.

  3. Liturgy of the Word:  The lector, deacon, priest proclaims the Word as usual from the ambo not wearing any mask or face covering. (cf. Note above). The ambo, Lectionary, and Book of the Gospel are to be disinfected after each Mass.



  1. Liturgy of the Eucharist:

    1. Collection:  The practice of passing baskets throughout the assembly is temporarily suspended.  Some options are to use traditional long-handled baskets or to place stationary baskets at the entrances of the church asking worshippers to drop their offering at the beginning of Mass.

    2. Procession of Gifts:  A couple of options may be considered.

      1. If the gifts of bread and wine are properly covered, (i.e. the hosts are in a covered ciborium or covered respectfully on a plate and the wine is in a covered carafe) they may be processed along with the offering in the normal way with those in procession maintaining proper physical distance.

      2. The bread and wine may be brought from the credence table with the procession of gifts temporarily omitted.

  2. Communion Rite:  Physical contact during the Lord’s Prayer and Sign of Peace is suspended.  For the Sign of Peace those present are encouraged to bow to others and offer words of peace.

  3. Distribution of Holy Communion:

    1. Other than as Viaticum to the critically ill, Holy Communion should, whenever possible, be given in the context of Mass.  If this is not possible, Holy Communion may be given outside of Mass according to the approved rites.  The distribution of Holy Communion immediately after Mass (rather than during) is to be avoided.

    2. It is highly encouraged and strongly recommended that the reception of Holy Communion be given in the hand.  While reception of Holy Communion on the tongue cannot be prohibited it is discouraged at this time.  (See procedure below).

    3. Reception of the Precious Blood from the chalice by the assembly is temporarily suspended.  Accommodation should be made for low-gluten hosts to be available for those with gluten intolerance.

    4. The location of stations for the distribution of Holy Communion should be considered to facilitate orderly movement and to maintain proper physical distance.  One-way traffic patterns are encouraged.

    5. Appropriate spacing between individuals in the Communion Procession is to be maintained. (i.e. a distance of every other pew between those in line for Holy Communion).

    6. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion approach the sanctuary in the normal way and all, including the presider and deacon (if present), should discreetly use hand sanitizer.

    7. It is at the pastor’s discretion whether or not to have Ministers of Holy Communion wear a mask or face covering for the distribution of Holy Communion.  In whatever is decided, it should be applied to all ministers including the presider.

    8. Holy Communion is not to be distributed with gloves, nor may it be received in the hand with gloves.

    9. When approaching the minister, the communicant is to pull their mask (if wearing one) below their chin.  The minister, after saying, “Body of Christ,” is to carefully place (drop) the host into the hand of the communicant avoiding any incidental contact.  Communicants, after responding “Amen,” reverently place the Eucharist in their mouth and replace their mask.

    10. Upon the conclusion of the distribution of Holy Communion, all ministers, including the priest and deacon (if present) are to discreetly wash their hands again with hand sanitizer and immediately after Mass with soap and water.


Distribution of Holy Communion on the Tongue

Out of pastoral necessity and urgency, those desiring to receive Holy Communion on the tongue are permitted to do so.  In this instance, they are to be last in line and receive only from the priest.  In the unfortunate circumstance that the priest’s fingers come in contact with the mouth and/or saliva of the communicant he must immediately sanitize his fingers before continuing with the next in line.


  1. Concluding Rite:  The altar server is not to hold the book for the presider for any of the presidential prayers.  Reverence to the sanctuary should be done with proper distance between all ministers.


  • After Mass

  1. Bulletins and other materials should be available for pick-up.  Hospitality ministers should not pass them out.

  2. Gathering after Mass is to be discouraged.  No receptions or social gatherings (i.e. coffee/donuts) are to be held.

  3. Those in attendance must dispose of worship aids upon exiting and new aids should be available for the next Mass.

  4. Vessels must be washed/sanitized in the normal way along with the Lectionary/Book of the Gospels.

  5. Efforts must be made to sanitize and disinfect the used areas before the next Mass.

Man of Faith
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