We all long eagerly for the day when we can meet each other in church once again, but for now, we still need to be a bit more patient. Following the corona rules from the Dutch Government, we cannot open the church for larger groups yet. At present, no more than 30 people are allowed to enter the church at the same time, and they need to be healthy and observe the social distance guideline of 1.5 meters between one another. During the press conference on Wednesday, 06 May, the Prime Minister announced that if all goes well, churches may be allowed to receive a maximum number of 100 people starting from 01 July.
This means that for now, Sunday masses will continue to be video streamed and only a select number of people will be invited to be physically present during mass. During the month of May, a few children will be receiving their First Communion during mass. Weddings and baptisms will also be allowed, albeit in very small numbers. In other words, during the month of May, physical attendance during Sunday masses may be possible by invitation only.
There will be opportunities to receive Communion on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the masses at noon. From Tuesday, 12 May onwards, these masses will no longer be celebrated at the Day Chapel, but in the church. Again, a maximum of 30 people may be in attendance, including staff. This also applies to Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday.
On the following Sunday afternoons on 24 May, 07 June and 21 June between 17.00-18.00, there will also be extra opportunities for small groups to receive communion.
Hopefully, on 05 July, we can go back to celebrating Sunday Mass with 100 people in attendance in the morning, and another 100 people in the afternoon.
For meetings in the atrium and other rooms in our Pastoral Center, and regarding the opening of the parish office, things remain unchanged until 01 June. After this date, we will follow whatever new guidelines are issued by the Dutch government and the Bishops. This may mean that during the month of June, meetings with a maximum of 30 people in total may once again be organized, as long as all rules are strictly observed.
From 1 June onwards, the Dutch government hopes to have testing available to anyone displaying symptoms of the coronavirus. Obviously, only those with negative test results may visit public spaces. Let’s protect each other and respect each other’s health. Those who test positive will be required to stay home in quarantine for at least 2 weeks and strictly follow their doctor’s advice.
With these small steps to ease out of lockdown, we can slowly move towards a more normal way of community life again. Let us count our blessings for the things we have achieved so far, rather than counting our losses. I thank you all for your patience, cooperation and understanding. I know we all miss each other, but out of sight is not out of mind! We continue to connect and reach out to each other in many creative ways through Ora et Labora.
May our prayers and work for healing and solidarity continue to reap rewards.