Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

After much thinking about how best to proceed, the St. Charles Borromeo Christmas Mass schedule has been finalized. This has been an incredibly difficult process. In a perfect world, we could have a normal Christmas, with our extended families and friends and celebrating in the church without a second thought.

Unfortunately, that’s not possible this year. First things first, the schedule is as follows: Christmas Eve 2PM, 4PM, 6PM, 8PM, 10PM; Christmas Day 8:30AM, 10:30AM. Please note that there is an additional time at 2PM; the hope being that it will help disperse the 4PM crowd. All Masses will be livestreamed and additional seating will be provided in McCusker Hall. Initially, we considered more, but there’s a real concern about getting everyone out, the spaces sanitized, and the next Mass crowd situated in a reasonable manner.

Now comes the more difficult news to relay. We cannot accommodate the normal number of people for Masses this year. For the 4PM Christmas Eve Masses, we usually see around 1200 people. There’s no way we could do that. With social distancing, we are currently maxing out the main church space at around 150 people. Some of that could be done more efficiently, if all our shorter side pews held families of 3 or 4 people and the longer center pews were reserved for singles and pairs with someone sitting at an edge, the middle, and an edge, we could actually fit right around 200. Add in the choir loft, some chairs in the Gathering Space, and McCusker Hall set up with a variety of chair configurations, we could push the number up to around 275. That’s a far cry from 1200. Even if we assume that the same average percentage of weekly attendance (between 35-40%) show
up for Christmas, splitting up the 4PM is still a major concern.

Here’s the harsh reality. If you attend one of the popular Masses at Christmas, I cannot guarantee you a spot in the building this year. I suspect many people will want to attend a Mass on Christmas, higher than the usual weekend percentage. Once our spaces are full, we will be forced to turn people away at the door. By the same token, we cannot allow anyone into the building until a half-hour before a Mass begins, to ensure the space has been sanitized properly. It’s heart-wrenching to consider as a pastor, but it’s what safety demands at this point.

Here’s the other harsh reality. In order to accommodate the most amount of people safely, you will not have any choice in where you sit. If you are attending by yourself or with one other person, you will be directed to a seat in the center pews. If you are part of a family of three or four, you will be directed to a side pew. If you
have five or more in your family, you will get a center pew. If the church is full, you will need to go to the choir loft, the Gathering Space, or McCusker Hall; in that order.

Your patience is appreciated in all this as we try to celebrate Christmas in the best possible way despite the challenges and limitations we currently face. At the end of the day, however our Christmas celebration looks, be assured it pleases God. For in it, we give honor and glory to the Incarnation, the birth of our Savior, Jesus
Christ.

Peace and Goodness,
Fr. Dan