A Pandemic Memorial Candle and Book of the Deceased has been dedicated in the church narthex. If you would like to remember a loved one who has died from COVID-19 or its complications, please clearly sign their name in the book. At our monthly First Friday Mass in Time of Pandemic, the names of all our pandemic deceased will be announced.
NOVEMBER 15, 2020
Church capacity has been reduced to 104, due to renewed surge in cases in New Jersey. In addition, to enhance air movement, doors will be open, fans running and windows opened during public liturgies in the church.
The parish office is closed to the public indefinitely, and likely through most of 2021. Parish pastoral transactions can be arranged through email or telephone, as staff continues to work normal hours either by teleworking or the office.
SEPTEMBER 8, 2020
Striving for Covid-19 Protection and Resilience:
Guidelines for Worship at St. Joseph Parish, Bound Brook
Our individual and communal safety continue to be the first parish priority during the ongoing pandemic emergency. We want to increase and deepen our worship opportunities, in the hopes of developing a new parish model of vitality, but can only do so safely with 100% buy-in from everyone.
Church seating continues to be limited to maintain six-foot social distancing between family units. The church is lightly sanitized after Masses. Clergy and ministers have their own protocols for handling liturgical items that may create multiple “touch points” during the liturgy.
Here are some additional pointers for parishioner practice:
- Make sure masks are fully worn over your nose and mouth, and for all those in your household over two years of age.
- As you prepare to receive Communion, and following your Communion, try to be aware of maintaining a six-foot distance at all times.
- You are strongly encouraged to cup your hands widely to receive the Blessed Sacrament and reduce touch points/virus vectors between you, the minister, and the succeeding communicant.
- IMPORTANT: Should someone present themselves for Communion on the tongue, the minister will excuse himself/herself both before and after the Communion to do a full CDC-compliant handwash in the sacristy, to protect the health of all. This will delay Communion for approximately 5 minutes and potentially cause a breach in the six-foot distancing in the Communion spacing.
- After receiving Communion, please continue toward the exits to reduce viral vectors and aerosols. If you have had a devotion of silent prayer of thanksgiving after Communion, please conduct this practice in the safety of the outdoors or your car.
Parish group activities remain inactivated for the foreseeable future — likely through 2021 — and even one-on-one parish meetings are likewise discouraged unless unavoidable. For example, clergy meetings with engaged couples, bereaved families and baptismal parents would be prominent exceptions, and even there these encounters ought to take place in the parish center chapel or outdoors on the parish grounds.
COVID-19 walkthrough of St. Joseph Parish Facilities August 20, 2020
INTRODUCTION: As part of his preparation in safeguarding the parish beginning Sept. 1, 2020, our incoming pastor invited a long-time Middlesex County emergency management official to conduct a pro bono evaluation of the St. Joseph Parish conditions and protocols for Covid-19 protection. The walkthrough was completed August 20, with the participation of selected St. Joseph parish pastoral team members.
ST. JOSEPH CHURCH
- WORSHIP SPACE: The evaluator applauded the safe seating design and parishioner traffic flow that limits door touch points and creates a smooth exit flow to the outside following Communion. He noted that seating in the church can now actually be increased to 130 people per Mass, according to the latest New Jersey guidelines.
- CONFESSIONAL: With an open window and a slight reconfiguration of seating, the confessional is in compliance with general Covid-19 safe practice.
- SACRISTY: Although circumstances would be rare to warrant such a number, up to 9 people can safely occupy the sacristy at any given time.
- CHAPEL: Concerns were raised about spacing, ventilation, capacity and the effect of non-compliant or ill parishioners in the limited chapel area. With the pending hybridized return to school next door, additional hazards will soon be presented in the form of inadvertent contact between parishioners and school officials, the possibility of fender-benders or simply close parking, and so forth. The need for additional parish team space in a similarly-crowded office configuration was expressed. RECOMMENDATION: Effective Sept. 1, 2020, the chapel will be closed for all public use. Daily Mass will move to the church, and all other chapel use is on hold temporarily until a new Church schedule can be agreed upon. Meanwhile, the parish pastoral team will now use the space for their daily prayer and meetings, not to exceed 12 people at any one time.
- OFFICES: Concern was raised about a shared two-desk space at the rear of the office area, and the lack of social distancing therein. RECOMMENDATION: One of the two occupants will be moved immediately to a new, safer space.
- GENERAL: With the likelihood of renewed severe public health conditions in coming months, the parish was advised to have a “ZOOM-ready” space to conduct worship and parish public activity through the Internet.
While the advisability of re-starting engaged couple in-person compatibility surveys (aka “FOCCUS”), using parish computers, has not been determined, it was suggested that thorough sanitizing of designated office keyboards be included in the resumption plan of those surveys.
- FIRE/TOXIN SAFETY: While affirming the due diligence of recently-inspected fire extinguishers, the evaluator recommended the addition of carbon-monoxide detectors to the office space.
- MESSAGING: Parish leadership was advised to discourage terminology such as “new normal” or waiting to “return to normal” and to instead focus on the gravity and urgency of the “ongoing public health emergency.”
Grateful for the evaluation and recommendations, we also acknowledge that this is a “point in time” evaluation and subject to immediate revision depending on wider public health circumstances and/or a clinical event within the parish community.