Guidelines for Returning to Church – Resource for the Faithful

Diocese of Thunder Bay Crest

As we re-open our churches, please be aware of the following guidelines.

Guidelines for Returning to the Church (Official PDF)

We recognize that they may be awkward/uncomfortable and contrary to our culture of hospitality and community. In working to foster a safe environment for all, we thank you in advance for your patience and co-operation.

Before coming to church:

• Please check temperature of all family members before coming to church. If any family members have a fever, please remain home for the health and safety of all. Consult your family doctor. Temperature should be less than 37.5 degrees Celsius.
• If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, please remain home at this time -cough, fatigue, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, headache, runny nose, sore throat, chills with shakes. Bishop Colli has dispensed all people from the obligation of Sunday Mass.

Arriving at church

• Maintain physical distancing at all times – 2 metres (6 feet) from others – in the parking lot, church entrance and in church itself.
• Upon arrival, put on mask/face covering before entering church (for all those over the age of 3) This is optional but recommended.
• Parishes will likely be using one entrance only – it may not be the entrance you are familiar with. Follow direction of volunteers, signage as appropriate.
• Sanitize hands upon entry and regularly wherever possible.
• Pews and aisles will be marked to note physical distancing requirements. Families and households living at the same residence may sit together; the same 2 metre (6 ft.) distance should be maintained concerning others. Follow direction of ushers for seating.
• Pews will be emptied of prayer books, hymnals, etc. Parish bulletins will not be published at this time.
• Holy Water fonts will be empty and not in use at this time.
• If your church hall is used for overflow purposes, it will also be marked for physical distancing – same guidelines apply.

Celebration of the Eucharist

• Please listen carefully to announcements before the start of Mass. Follow direction as advised. There is no Children’s Liturgy at this time.
• Please do not enter the sacristy unless you have been asked to assist during Mass.
• Other than a cantor or a small choir appropriately physically distanced, there will be no singing at Mass until further notice.
• There will be no offertory procession or collection. Please leave donation in the designated container upon entry/departure of the church as directed.
• We ask that people do not hold hands or shake hands during any portion of the celebration of the Eucharist. At the Sign of Peace, a nod or bow to others is appropriate.
• Masks/face coverings should be removed prior to reception of Holy Communion and put back on after receiving Holy Communion.
• During this time of pandemic and under the guidance of local medical health officials, the faithful are asked to receive Holy Communion only in the hand by placing one on top of the other, allowing the Eucharistic Minister to safely place the Body of Christ in one’s hand without contact. Nothing is said at the time of reception.
• Follow direction of ushers for communion flow ensuring physical distancing at all times
• Follow direction provided for dismissal and departure. Following Mass, please depart the church so that cleaning may commence. While it is our nature to congregate/socialize in the foyer or parking lot, we recommend you not do so at this time. Please maintain physical distancing.


• If you suddenly feel ill, start coughing or sneezing, please leave the church immediately for the health and safety of others gathered.
• Please use washrooms only if absolutely necessary. One person or family at a time should be in the washroom. Ensure that all wash their hands with warm, soapy water after using washroom facilities. Please respect physical distancing outside the washroom.
• If, within 14 days of attending Mass, you learn that you or someone in your family who attended Mass with you has tested positive for COVID-19, you are asked to: a) contact the Ontario Public Health Authority; and, b) contact the parish office. Your identity will not be revealed to anyone other than the Public Health Authority, and only to ensure that any spread is contained. Thank You.