How are the First Communion Masses organized?
Masses are organized according to class. Your child will receive along with the other students who were in his or her class prior to the quarantine. These smaller groups allow us to observe all social distancing requirements while still making the day special for each child. As mentioned in a previous email, if you need to schedule for a different day, simply notify us and we will make arrangements with you.
Who can attend?
In addition to our first Communion students, only parents and siblings should plan to attend the First Communion Masses, as we are not permitted to have more than 100 people in the church at a time. According to requirements of the State of Connecticut and Diocese of Bridgeport, social distancing must be observed in the church at all times. Family units (members of the same household) may sit together, provided they remain at least six feet from anyone outside their household. This allows each family to be present without violating the guidelines we must follow. We recognize that many family members from outside your household will want to attend, but coronavirus precautions make that impossible. Thank you for your understanding, and for helping your children to understand the circumstances that are beyond anyone’s control.
Can we have a big celebration in the fall instead of having First Communion now?
We would love to have a big celebration. However, there is no clear indication that anything will be back to normal by then. In fact, as you know, many experts are still predicting a resurgence of coronavirus in the fall. It is therefore imprudent to plan a large celebration for the fall when so many variables are impossible to know. Instead, we are planning for what we can do now, with the desire that we do not delay First Communion unnecessarily. Of far greater importance than the size of the crowd is the fact that your child will receive the gift of the Eucharist. Please focus on that sacramental gift.
Incidentally, a number of the couples whose weddings are scheduled here at St. Pius have been altering their plans. Most have chosen to postpone their receptions, but keep their wedding date (albeit with fewer guests). It is not the wedding they dreamed of, but they are focused on the most important thing – their love for one another and their desire to spend the rest of their lives together!
What safety precautions are in place?
The Church will be sanitized before and after all Masses, with special attention paid to high touch surfaces. All in attendance must wear masks. For the time being, Diocesan guidelines forbid communal singing, as multiple reports indicate that singing expels significant amounts of aerosolized particles.
Seats will be preassigned, with each family taking a single pew. This will help us to safely and efficiently seat everyone while ensuring safe social distancing. We ask you to kindly confirm to the email sent to you later this week, that you will attend, providing the number of people in your family.
During the distribution of Holy Communion, the priests will wear masks. They sanitize their hands before the distribution of Communion begins and again if they make physical contact with someone, and again when the distribution is complete.
What should my child wear?
If possible, we suggest traditional First Communion attire: jacket and tie for boys, white dress for girls. However, you may have purchased something before the quarantine that your child has since grown out of, or have been unable to get to a store to buy something because of the quarantine. In that case, something neat and clean and approximating Sunday best is the way to go. Don’t worry too much.
How will Communion be distributed?
The center aisle of the church will have markings indicating six-foot intervals for social distancing. At the front of the church, along the altar rail, four markings will be placed on the floor – six feet apart – indicating where people are to go to receive Holy Communion. The First Communion students will kneel at those designated spots at the altar rail to receive – this posture makes it easier for the priest to give them the Eucharist, and helps the children to be still long enough to receive reverently and without rushing.
Will the First Communion Mass be live-streamed?
We will live-stream the Mass on our parish Facebook page and YouTube channel so that family and friends who cannot attend in person can witness this special occasion.
What if I am not comfortable bringing my child to a Mass with so many people?
You may opt for your child to receive at one of our weekday (8:30 AM) Masses, or you may wait longer. Should you opt for a longer wait, there are no additional preparatory requirements. If opting for a weekday Mass, Fr. Sam will contact you to discuss logistics and social distancing attendance restrictions.
Are the kids really ready?
Fortunately, our students were able to cover a great deal of material in class prior to the quarantine. Since classes were suspended, you parents have done an outstanding job using the materials we provided. Remember that fruitful reception of the sacraments does not depend primarily on completing a program. Rather, we spend our lives practicing the faith. The Eucharist as a sacrament we can receive frequently is, therefore, a mystery we will spend our entire lives understanding. The best way for your child’s First Communion to take root in their hearts is to repeat the experience as often as possible.
Please watch the video about receiving Holy Communion with your child and help them practice at home you received via email.
What is your plan for sacramental preparation next year?
Like you, we are closely following every development in the COVID-19 world. The Diocese of Bridgeport is assisting parishes with guidance as well. We are looking especially at options that will allow for study at home along with in-person options. Further communication about the 2020-2021 school year will be forthcoming.