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St. Kateri Shrine site works on re-opening

FONDA — As New York state and the Albany Diocese move forward with reopening, the Saint Kateri Shrine Council and staff are working to come up with a thoughtful plan for resuming Mass that will limit the health risks to attendees, volunteers, chaplain, and staff to the best of its ability.

Officials said in a news release they will be submitting its reopening plan to the Diocese for approval shortly and will let the public know as soon as religious services can resume. In the meantime, please be aware that when it does reopen, the following guidelines will be in place in accordance with state and Diocese regulations to prevent virus spread:

∫ The number of attendees will be limited, and people will be asked to register in advance by calling the Shrine office by noon on Friday. Registration will consist of providing your name, address, and telephone number; you will also be asked to choose a seat from spaces available. These practices are meant to ensure adequate social distancing, as well as the ability to inform you if someone in the congregation later is diagnosed with COVID-19.

∫ When you arrive, ushers will confirm your registration and guide you to your chosen seat before service starts. You are also welcome to bring chairs or blankets to hear Mass from the hillside or lawn by Kolbe Pavilion, so long as you maintain 6-foot distance from others.

∫ Congregants will be required to wear masks while in Kolbe Pavilion if they are over 2 years of age. If possible, we also ask that you bring hand sanitizer to use before receiving Communion to help protect our celebrant and others receiving the host.

∫ Singing and the use of hymnals, missalettes, and Bibles, whether provided by the Shrine or brought from home, are temporarily suspended, as is the Sign of Peace.

∫ Holy water fonts will not be filled, but you may bring a container of water from home to be blessed.

∫ Communion will take place at the end of Mass. Please use the chalk marks in the center aisle to keep a 6-foot distance while you wait to receive the host. After receiving Communion, you will be asked to exit the Pavilion on the sides, rather than down the center aisle.

∫ Officials ask that you refrain from gathering in the parking lot after service is concluded.

∫ Please remember that dispensation from Mass is still in place. If you are unwell or simply uncomfortable with attending, you are encouraged to stay home. The “Spiritual Resources” section of its website has links to places you can attend Mass virtually online, as well as the prayer for Spiritual Communion and similar religious guidance that you can take advantage of while staying safe — it even has nature webcams to help you stay connected with creation from home.

Please also remember that you are always welcome to pray in the Candle Chapel, walk the Stations of the Cross, hike the trails, and visit the spring where Saint Kateri was baptized and the village where she spent most of her life, so long as you follow public-safety guidelines.

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