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Some Things to Know

Salus Infirmorum   Bishop Gerald Walsh, Monsignor John Brinn, Monsignor Hugh McManus, Father Hugh Grace, Father Thomas Lynch.

Requiescat in Pace   Monsignor Francis Boyle, Father Joseph Bisignano, Father Carl Johnson, Father Paul John.

Share the Word   Please give access to all your priests and staff members to the material which is pertinent to them, enclosed in the monthly mailing from the office of the vicar general.  For it to succeed, we recommend that this Some Things to Know be posted in the public area of the general office.

Office Holidays   On Wednesday, March 17, the Catholic Center will be closed in in honor of the patron of our archdiocese, St. Patrick.  On Holy Thursday, April 1, the center will close at 1:00 pm; and on Good Friday, April 2 and Easter Monday, April 5, it will also be closed all day.  Leave your message in the department’s voice mailbox and it will be returned on the next business day.  To reach the chancery after hours and on weekends, call Community Answering Service at 877-582-2996.  Add this number as “Chancery Emergency” to the list of contacts in your mobile telephone.

Parish Counseling Network   Parishioners have access to short term professional counseling at convenient locations throughout the archdiocese through a Parish Counseling Network developed by Catholic Charities.  The network offers more than 100 licensed counseling professionals to help parishioners through issues and crises that can be successfully addressed by brief counseling support such as marital problems, raising children, eldercare, job loss or bereavement.  Working from private offices, counselors are experienced with an array of difficulties and a diverse clientele.  Many of the practitioners are bi-lingual in Spanish and English.  Referrals to network counseling services can be made by pastors by calling Laura, Debbie or Pat at 866.962.7487.  Parishioners are eligible for a maximum of six counseling sessions.  The fee for each session is a $10 co-pay.  The network will help pastors secure the most effective and appropriate care for their parishioners.  Contact Laura Brovich LMSW, Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan; 845.294.5124; [email protected].

Overheard at the Funeral of a Priest:Let us safely offer each other the sign of peace.”  When our churches reopened to the public after three months of quarantine, we were careful to offer guidelines which would assist pastors ensure the protection of their parishioners while at Mass.  Among the many recommendations that were offered, here are a few reminders:

  • Wear masks; wash hands; keep two-meter distance; stay home when sick; get tested and vaccinated;
  • The Precious Blood should not be distributed to the faithful, nor should the faithful receive the Eucharist by intinction;
  • The invitation to the faithful to exchange a sign of peace should be omitted;
  • Ministers should not place hands on the heads of children or adults who are not receiving the Eucharist in the form of a “blessing” during the distribution of Communion.

Copies of the Faith Forward Reopening Plan are enclosed.

Patronal Feast of His Holiness, Pope Francis   April 23 is the optional memorial of St. George.  Prayers for the Holy Father may be offered at Mass and within the Liturgy of the Hours.

OCP Parish Grants Program   For nearly 100 years, Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) has partnered with parishes across the country, helping them to rediscover the beauty of the liturgy.  Since 2001, more than $3.3 million has been donated through the OCP Parish Grants program in support of parishes seeking to enhance their worship experience.  To apply, complete the online application at, providing information on the parish.  Applications for 2021 grants are now open; recipients will be announced in August.  The deadline for application is May 30.  Applications are only accepted online. Use this helpful worksheet.  It lists all the information you’ll need for the application process. For more information, you may call 1-800-548-8749.

Lenten Reconciliation Monday will be held on March 29, 2021 from 3:00 to 9:00 pm in all the parishes of the archdiocese and the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre. 

Mass of the Chrism   On Tuesday, March 30, the Mass of the Chrism will be celebrated by His Eminence at 4:00 PM at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  The cardinal would like as many priests as possible to be present according to safe distance guidelines.  If you are planning to attend, contact the office of special projects and events at  [email protected] or 646.794.2000 before March 23.

Preview Option is now available in the monthly combined mailing so you don’t have to download each document.

Holy Week Liturgies   You may refer to the guidance given in the March 5 memorandum for the celebration of liturgies for Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum.

Parish RCIA Coordinators   Kindly send the total number of baptized RCIA candidates who will be completing their sacraments of initiation this Easter to Oscar Cruz, director of the catechumenate.  Obviously, this information is important to us as we review the current process of initiation.   His email is [email protected].

Compensation for Religious   Each year at this time we publish the new stipends for religious men and women working in the archdiocese.  This year, in consideration of the effects of the child victims act and the coronavirus pandemic upon the Church in New York, it will remain the same as the current benefit.  Although disappointing, we will visit this again next year.

Faculty for Priests to Confirm   The Code of Canon Law gives priests the faculty to confirm when they baptize an adult or child of catechetical age (seven or older) and when they receive a validly baptized adult or child of catechetical age into full communion with the Church (c. 833). However, by law, a priest does not possess the faculty to confirm baptized Catholics who were never catechized; or practicing Catholics who have not yet been confirmed.  Nevertheless, for the spiritual good of God’s people in the archdiocese, the cardinal grants the faculty to confirm such baptized Catholics to pastors, administrators and any priest specifically subdelegated by a pastor or administrator in individual cases (c. 137 §3). This faculty may be exercised when the following conditions are met:

  • Only baptized Catholics who have fully participated in the process and catechesis of the 1988 Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or its equivalent may be confirmed;
  • Confirmation of baptized Catholics may only be celebrated within a Eucharistic liturgy which takes place from the Easter Vigil through and including Pentecost Sunday.

If either of these conditions is not met, then the faculty to confirm must be specifically requested from the vicar general.  Since questions of validity may arise when the sacrament of confirmation is administered by a priest (c. 882), a notation should be made in the confirmation registry of the parish that the faculty to confirm under the above-listed conditions is expressly delegated, i.e., “delegatus.

Tax Law Changes   The latest change in the tax laws raises to 72 from 70½ the age at which individuals must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their retirement accounts, including their IRAs.  This only applies to people who turn 70½ after December 31, 2019.   The new law also allows people to contribute to their IRA after they are 70½ as long as they have earned income.  You may want to share this information with your parishioners, as it gives them yet another way to make a gift.

Announcements Mailbox   This is a good time for us to revisit the option of receiving official mail at a personal email account.  The main benefit is that it eliminates the need to log in to the clergy webmail system through the archdiocesan website.  Email from the Announcements Mailbox will go directly to a priest’s personal address and kept on a private server which strictly monitors who has access to it.  All email to priests is approved by the vicar general so that they are not deluged with unauthorized or unnecessary messages from various departments at the Catholic Center.  If a priest chooses this option, he must be sure to keep the email address up-to-date.  New information may be sent to the data system center ([email protected]).

St. Patrick’s Day Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 17 at 8:30 and reflects the pride we have and the glory we give to the patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York.  Priests are certainly welcome to concelebrate with His Eminence.  Two-meter distancing will be observed.  The Catholic Center offices will be closed for the holy day.

Talking Points for Pastors and Bulletins   As you make your requests for Easter contributions and for the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal, you may see a value in saying to your people that none of their donations to the appeal or to the parish will be used for settlements from sexual abuse complaints about our priests.  As many families do when they are faced with large unexpected expenses, the archdiocese has borrowed for purposes of justice and healing up to $100 million, which we will pay back from non-parish originated funds. It may help your people to know that no funds received in collections or appeals will be used to settle complaints.

Regional and Parochial School Classes Attending Mass in Church   Superintendent of Schools Michael Deegan has announced that, with the change issued by the State of New York with regard to quarantining rules, it is now permissible for multiple classes to attend school Masses at the same time, providing they observe the capacity regulations along with two-meter distancing.  Principals have been advised.

Catholic Youth Organization Sports Program   Beginning in mid-April, CYO is intending to hold outdoor activities like spring/summer basketball leagues, basketball clinics, cheerleading, track and field, baseball/softball and golf.  School gymnasia continue to be used for classes in order to maintain proper social distancing and will not be available for CYO sports for the remainder of the academic year.  Any parish-based sports should be in strict accord with all COVID-19 safety protocols and regulations for that county and approved by the pastor in accord with archdiocesan policies. CYO is available to provide appropriate guidance and assistance.

Just One More Thing   If you get an email with the subject, “Knock, Knock,” don’t open it.   It is from the Jehovah’s Witnesses working remotely.

The Archdiocese of New York is a large, diverse community of 2.81 million Catholics. We serve the city in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx, plus Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Westchester, Ulster, Rockland and Putnam counties. Since our founding in 1808, our mission has been to live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, aware of the local area and the world, the spiritual and the material, the present and the future. We do this through ministry, service, prayer, education, and community, working with pastors,deacons,religious men and women, catechists, teachers, parish staff and volunteers at our nearly 300 parishes

The lifeblood of the archdiocese’s mission stems from the Mass and the sacraments. It is here that our people are inspired to serve their brothers and sisters in the broader community, and are sent forth to engage in evangelization and charitable works. Since the outset of the COVID-19 crisis in the New York region, our churches have been closed to public worship. This was, indeed, a sad but necessary step to take for the health and safety of our parishioner sand local communities. And it has worked

Healthcare and government officials have now announced a phased plan to begin to reopen. To date, the“NY Forward” plan does not outline a process by which houses of worship will reopen their doors.

The Catholic community in New York is eager to resume public worship in a safe and responsible manner and in coordination with state and local government and health officials. Our people believe that worship is an essential service. To that end, we are proposing a phased plan which follows the latest guidance from the CDC and which, at the same time,respects our traditions. We believe that public worship can continue to take place safely in an era of social distancing

Our plan includes the following policies and procedures:

  • Churches will be regularly sanitized and disinfected. Signage will be placed on entrance doors instructing anyone with fever or flu-like symptoms not to enter the church. Parishioners must wear masks.
  • Attendance at each individual Mass will be limited to no more than 25 percent of a church’s occupancy permit.
  • No physical contact during the Sign of Peace will be permitted.
  • Parish safety committees and ushers will be trained to receive parishioners and escort them to suitable seating arrangements set up for social distancing for the protection of priests and parishioners. Ushers will wear masks and not make physical contact when greeting parishioners.Orderly arrivals and departures will be coordinated by ushers and parish security teams.
  • Pews will be prepared to safeguard parishioners and will follow published protocols (see enclosed sample seating arrangements) based on:
    • Singles
    • Couples
    • Families with one child
    • Families with more than one child
  • Frequently touched surfaces in the church (pews/pew tops, door handles, microphones, etc.) will be cleaned and sanitized per CDC recommendations after every liturgy. Restrooms will be cleaned between Masses.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensaries will be available at all church entrances.
  • At arrival and departure times, entrance doors will be propped open to limit contact with door handles. Where possible, pedestrian movement patterns will be instituted that will minimize the potential for close contact between parishioners, including dedicated access ways for entrance and departure. Signage will be used in implementing these measures.
  • Utilization of lower church/parish center facilities for additional Masses if the Church is full, andlive video display of services will be continued in order to alleviate any overflow in attendance.
  • Holy water and baptismal fonts will be emptied.
  • Additional Mass times may be added at the pastor’s discretion.
  • Worship aids will be discouraged. Online worship aids will be encouraged. If paper worship aids are used, they should be limited to one page, and attendees should be directed to take them with them after Mass.If worship aids are left in a pew, they must be collected and destroyed aftereach Mass.
  • No paper bulletins will be distributed. Instead, parish bulletins/news will be posted to the parish website or emailed to parishioners.
  • Non-essential gatherings will be suspended, including Children’s Liturgy of the Word, post-Mass social gatherings/refreshments, etc.
  • Communion will be distributed only via the Host; the Precious Blood will not be offered.
  • A cantor will be permitted, but large choirs will not be used.
  • Collection baskets will not be passed from person-to-person. Baskets with long handles will be allowed. Ushers taking the collection will wear masks and gloves. Large baskets may be placed at church exits for people to drop envelopes or donations. Ushers must immediately sanitize their hands after the collection.
  • Offertory counters will wear gloves and masks, and practice social distancing.
  • There will be no greeting of people after Mass.
  • Tables and chairs in gathering areas will be put into storage so as not to invite people to use them.
  • Baptismal pools or those with fonts that flow into a basin will be emptied after each use.

More detailed information regarding these policies may be found in the accompanying document,“Returning to Public Worship: Guidelines for Sacramental Celebrations.”

By taking these steps, we are confident that we can assure our parishioners of their safety when attending church. For this reason, we are proposing that the Archdiocese begin its phased plan for reopening churches in tandem with the “NY Forward” Phase 2, which will coincide with the reopening of other professional and retail services.The Archdiocese looks forward to working with state and local officials to realize its goal of bringing the Mass and sacraments back to the Catholic community responsibly and expeditiously.