Worship at Aquinas House
Summer Schedule 2020
To Our Aquinas House Community
To our Aquinas House community,
In light of Gov. Chris Sununu’s announcement lifting the ban on public worship in New Hampshire, Bishop Peter Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester issued a decree announcing the public celebration of the Mass, guided by the recommendations of the CDC and local officials. This presents a welcome but cautious step forward in resuming our in-person life as a Church.
With great consideration of our responsibility to the Dartmouth college and Upper Valley communities, Aquinas House has decided to celebrate Mass beginning this Sunday, June 7 at 11AM outdoors in front of our chapel. This will be the only weekly public liturgy celebrated while we give thought to the additional needs of our community.
Although we are blessed to be a part of the Upper Valley, the primary mission of Aquinas House is to serve the student population of Dartmouth College, a community that is not present in great numbers at this time. Despite the fact that we are not officially part of the College, we do work with and have a responsibility to the individuals of the institution. We are also located in the heart of Campus. With all of this in mind, we are prepared to operate at a limited capacity – 40% of our indoor chapel space accounts for approximately 70 people – while reminding people that the obligation to attend Mass remains lifted. Our hope is to move forward at the request of Bishop Libasci while fulfilling our duty to take care of the Upper Valley community we know and love.
As this Mass will be celebrated outdoors, there are some additional important changes to take note of:
- We will mark the front lawn for social distancing practices and for ease of movement during Communion. Space will be accommodated for families and households who wish to sit together.
- We ask that you bring what is comfortable — lawn chairs, a blanket, etc. — to sit or stand. We believe it is best practice that our parishioners bring something from home as they are able.
- Communion will be distributed following the conclusion of Mass rather than during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is to allow for people wishing to receive Holy Communion but not attend Mass as is their choice. Distribution will also take place outdoors.
- Once an individual or family has received the Sacrament, we ask that they please walk 6 feet to a designated location before consuming the host. The choice to receive on the tongue remains in place as explained by Bishop Libasci. However, we also believe that it is in the best interest of our community to receive in the hand at this time and step to the side as described above. This is a decision made by individuals according to their conscience and will be respected, but we do ask that people strongly consider what is recommended by the valued members of our medical community.
- The person distributing the Sacrament must sanitize his or her hands if contact is made following each communicant. At this time, we will not invite extraordinary ministers to participate in the distribution. Fr. Brendan will be the only individual responsible for this.
- We ask that you do not park in the drive in front of the chapel. Please use the parking lot to the side of the property as needed so that the front lawn can be used safely during Mass.
- During this time, masks are required of the Faithful and are to be removed only at the reception of the Eucharist. The CDC does recommend that children 2 and older wear a mask, but that is at the discretion of a parent or guardian. They are also to be worn by the person distributing the Sacrament. Gloves must not be worn by any individual distributing or receiving Holy Communion.
- Finally, we also wish to again remind the Faithful that they remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass. Also, if someone has tested positive or comes in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or if an individual is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that he or she please stay home.
In addition to regular cleaning of commonly-touched surfaces, doors and windows of the chapel will remain propped open to reduce touched surfaces and increase ventilation. Fonts will be empty, and hand sanitizer will be made available at the entrance to both the grounds of AQ and the chapel. Our sacred space will remain open daily from 6AM-6PM as it has been.
Also, as this time presents a financial burden to many, any monetary donations that would have been made during the weekly collection will be given to charities in the Upper Valley at this time. Aquinas House will match whatever is collected each week. To contribute, please see a basket located on a small table that will be displayed at the entrance to our grounds that also includes hand sanitizer and other pertinent information. We thank you for your generosity!
Finally, please know of our gratitude for your prayers and support, and for your help in practicing social distancing and cleanliness during this new phase. We greatly appreciate your cooperation in creating a prayerful and sacred space that respects those around us, especially the most vulnerable. We will continue to communicate any additional changes, as well as guidelines for Mass inside the chapel, through our website, listserv, and social media. If you have any questions, please call or email us at 603.643.2154 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, rest assured of our prayers here at Aquinas House. We truly miss you all so much, especially as we near graduation! God Bless our graduating students. We look forward to when we can celebrate our Risen Lord together again!