Date: January 21, 2021
To: Priests, deacons, seminarians, parish communicators, principals and presidents, men and women religious and chancery staff
From: The Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv.
Re: COVID-19 guideline renewal
Like many of you, I cannot wait until we have the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. However, now more than ever, we cannot let down our guard. We are seeing rising infection rates including a growing number of cases among our priests and deacons. We wanted to remind you of our current protocols and review some guidelines for moving forward.
Priests, deacons and ministers of Holy Communion must clean their hands, preferably with hand sanitizer, before they distribute communion. Hand sanitizer should be at least 70 percent alcohol. Priests and ministers must wear masks during the distribution of Holy Communion and should keep masks on unless they are at the altar or ambo reading or praying. Everyone attending a parish event must wear a mask and stay 6-10 feet away from others not in their family group. Wearing masks is an act of the virtue of charity. It prevents us from infecting others. Thank you for being so considerate.
Other than liturgies, parishes cannot host gatherings of more than 50 people at a time. Social events, including receptions, are still not advised in parish facilities.
We encourage all priests, deacons and ministers to get a vaccine when it is available to your age and health group. I consider you essential workers in the vineyard of the Lord and want you to stay safe and healthy. However, even after you receive both doses of a vaccine, you will need to continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing and keep your hands clean until health officials in our communities determine conditions are safe once again. You can learn more about why continuing precautions are important here.
You can get more information on who is eligible for vaccines and where to find an appointment here. You can find a copy of Georgia’s vaccine rollout plan on this page as well.
Please continue to report positive COVID-19 cases to the chancery by emailing Deacon Dennis Dorner and perform contact tracing so we can stop any outbreaks. Here is a reminder of the quarantine and isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. I know many of us have had to quarantine more than once, but each time represents an opportunity to save lives, so please continue to take exposures seriously.
A full set of our current guidelines is posted to the archdiocesan website.
We are called to protect the most vulnerable among us. While we are approaching the end of this pandemic, that end is still months away. Let us renew our commitment to ‘the least of these’ during these next weeks and months so that we can all celebrate together once again.