Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As South Carolina reports increased numbers of people being infected with the COVID -19 virus I would like to offer the following advice and information:

Last May Bishop Guglielmone re-instated the obligation for Catholics to attend Mass every Sunday. However, please remember the usual conditions: you are not obliged to attend Mass if you are sick, if you must quarantine due to infection, if you are tending a sick family member or if you have good reason, because of your vulnerabilities, to avoid public gatherings. These conditions apply at all times — not just during a pandemic.

The only other provisions from the diocese are that we are to avoid sharing the greeting of peace physically and we are not to administer the chalice to members of the congregation. All other protocols are at the pastor’s discretion.

Therefore, I would remind you that at OLR we still prefer the Friday 10:00 am Mass and the Saturday 5:00 pm Mass to be mostly for older or vulnerable parishioners, and we advise the wearing of masks and observation of social distancing as much as possible. If you are concerned about COVID we advise you to attend these Masses. If you attend these Masses, we ask you to respect these guidelines and don a mask and sit apart from others as much as possible.

As previously, I advise those attending other Masses to observe whatever precautions you deem most necessary for the safety of yourself and your family. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of vaccines, the moral theologians of our church have said the vaccines are ethically permissible, however to be vaccinated (or not) is a personal choice. I advise you to make that decision after taking advice from your local health care professional.

Finally, the pandemic has unlocked a lot of fear in our society. Remember the constant refrain from the gospels, “Do not be afraid!” Also remember that each one of us will face death one day. Be smart, be cautious, be prepared, put your trust in the Lord, day by day and do not be afraid!

Fr. Dwight Longenecker