Preparatory Protocols:
1.) The Elderly, the Sick, the Young and the Children are encouraged to attend Mass at home via TV or Livestreamed Masses on Facebook as an extra precaution. Remind them about Spiritual Communion. For those who are taking serious caution not to be contaminated by the virus and so not attending Mass in the Church, they will participate in the Mass in the same way as those mentioned above.

2.) Put Markers to Observe Physical Distancing. To ensure the observance of physical distancing, place a mark or sign on the pews where the person must sit down. In the aisles, there must also be markings on the floor to remind the communicants to maintain the distance from each other. It is important to determine in advance the seating capacity of the church per Mass, following this arrangement.



4. Public gatherings such as but not limited to, movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, religious gatherings, and non-essential work gatherings shall be allowed provided that participants shall be limited to 50% of the venue or seating capacity.

3.) The Necessity of Adding More Masses. For sure, only a lesser number of our faithful can attend in each Mass because of the physical distancing. Consider therefore the need of adding more Masses on Sundays and weekdays, considering the canonical limitation and capacity of the available priests in the parish. The new Mass schedules must be well disseminated and circulated.

4.) Anticipated Masses. The anticipated or vigil Mass shall be reckoned beginning any time after 12 noon on Saturday; a faithful who attends any Mass after midday of Saturday shall be in fulfilment of Sunday obligation; all evening Masses from Wednesday to Friday, using Sunday Liturgy, may be deemed anticipated Sunday Mass satisfying the Sunday obligation.

5.) Masses in the Chapels. The celebration of Mass in the chapel is not advisable as the chapel area is too small for the observance of distancing. Nevertheless, the priest shall have the discretion to celebrate Mass in the chapel communities if there is a way to observe the prescribed precautionary measures like doing it in a larger hall or basketball courts in the area.

6.) Entrances and Exits. Specific entrances and exits of the church could be planned and well indicated to help maintain social distancing and observe hand sanitation. Hand washing is highly recommended before an attendee can get inside the church. The faithful are encouraged to bring with them their own hand sanitizers or alcohol.

Foot bath shall no longer be placed at the entrances. It is now highly discouraged by the DOH and the IATF. (As stressed by IATF in the meeting with the religious sector at the City Mayor’s Office in Iligan, dated May 28, 2020)

The Thermal Scanner to monitor the temperature of the attendees shall be used at every entrance. A holding area shall be designated for possible cases of attendees manifesting high temperature; the handling of these must be coordinated with the barangay health personnel.

7.) Ushers and Collectors. The Ushers must be retrained to guide the assembly on how to sanitize and to use the Thermal Scanner before the people may enter the church. They will also guide the Mass attendees where to sit in the church, when to come to the communion line, and when and where to enter and exit from the church. The Collectors must have an orientation on how to go about collecting the love offerings to avoid the long queuing of the faithful during the offertory.

Protocols During the Mass:
1.) Priest and Lay Ministers who take part and assist in the celebrations:
a. Should wash and sanitize their hands properly before and after each celebration.
b. Should wear face masks when they are not to speak to lead in prayer, give instructions or proclaim the Word of God to the assembly.
c. Should practice social distancing in the sanctuary. Therefore, only a minimal number of altar servers and lectors need to be in the sanctuary.
d. The number of choir members who will sing during the celebrations need to be reduced to keep social distancing. It may even be advisable to have only a cantor who will lead the assembly in the singing.

2.) The faithful attending the Mass should all wear face masks.

3.) Offertory and Preparation of the Gifts. The Offertory procession (presentation of the gifts) should be omitted. A deacon (if present) or a server may bring the missal, chalice, paten/ciborium, and cruets of wine and water to the altar, while the priest remains at the chair. (Alternatively, the priest could do this himself.)

After the deacon or servers move away, the priest could come to the altar and arrange the items on the altar.
The lavabo should be done by the priest alone, without assistance, at the credence table near the altar.
Special provision should be made for the collection. Baskets should not be passed from person to person. Long-handled baskets could be acceptable if the ushers can remain at a suitable distance from others. There can also be designated boxes or collection points where the faithful can place their contributions.

If hosts for the communion of the faithful are to be consecrated, they should be placed on a second corporal on the side of the altar. This allows the priest to say the words of consecration directly over the host that he will consume, while the other hosts on the altar are not directly in front of the priest as he speaks the Eucharistic Prayer.
(Taken from the CBCP guidelines in New Normal Condition)

4.) Holy Communion.
Holy Communion will still be distributed only on the hand. The ministers of Holy Communion (both priests and lay ministers) need to wear face masks and sanitize their hands before and after the distribution of Holy Communion.

5.) Sign of Peace and the Our Father.
No holding of hands during the singing/praying of the “Our Father” and no shaking of hands during the Sign of Peace.

6.) The Oratio Imperata must still be prayed during the Mass, after the Prayer after Communion and every 8:00 P.M. daily.

Protocol After the Mass
1.) Parishes should also distribute Holy Communion outside the Mass for the sick and those who are taking serious caution not to be contaminated by the virus as mentioned and referred to in no. 1 of the preparatory protocol.

2.) Regular General Disinfection. Disinfection will only be done by spraying the entire place of worship. You may ask the City or Municipal Health Office to conduct disinfection in your church. If it is not available, inquire how you can do it yourself.

Protocols for the other Sacraments
1.) Baptism
a. The celebration of Baptism is allowed but restricted to the immediate family members and to one or a pair of godparents. They need to wear face masks and observe social distancing.
b. The baptismal water to be used should be clean and blessed for that celebration.
c. The Holy Oils should be applied, using cotton, on the one baptized. The cotton with holy oils should be burned after the celebration. Or sanitize your thumb with alcohol every after anointing in cases where there are several to baptize.

2.) Funerals. Attendance is restricted to the immediate family and all must wear face masks, and all should observe social distancing.

3.) Confessions
a. The sacramental nature of confession requires that it must be done in person; however, it is advisable not to use the confessionals in the church. Although confessions may be heard in the parish office, it is preferable that they be heard outdoors, where there is better circulation of air and additional space for safe distance between the confessor and the penitent.

b. When hearing confessions, the confessor always wears a face mask. The penitent also wears a face mask.

c. Priests are reminded not to hear Confessions via telephone or Zoom teleconferencing, though they may use these methods to offer the penitents spiritual counsel.

d. Act of Perfect Contrition. When the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not possible, for example, to a patient who is isolated or in quarantine, he/she can make an Act of Perfect Contrition. The Act of Perfect Contrition always has been a part of our Catholic tradition. God is always present to us, even when the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not possible. While a priest cannot give absolution over the phone, he can use the phone to give a blessing and even guide a person to make an Act of Perfect Contrition. This can be done provided the person expresses faith in and love of God above all things and resolves to make a sacramental Confession as soon as possible. All his/her sins, even mortal sins, are forgiven.

4.) Anointing of the Sick.
The priest may either choose:
1.) Take the necessary precaution, and simply pray over the sick, without touching the sick person.

2.) Use the Rite of Anointing as prescribed but use cotton balls instead of the thumb in applying the blessed oil for the infirmed on the sick and dispose the used cotton balls by burning. As suggested, the priest may also use gloves if available.
N.B. The first option is strongly advised by the DOH. But if the second option is taken, it was advised by the City Health Officer to sanitize it with alcohol before burning.

If the patient to be anointed is in the hospital, it will be wiser for the priest to go first to the Nurse Station to ask for their assistance and protection from possible contamination.
5.) Celebration of Weddings. The Wedding Rites prescribed in the liturgical book must be followed. But, due to the demand of social distancing, wedding celebrations this year will have to be simpler than the usual. We must forego all the secondary elements of the normal wedding ceremonies, e.g., the wedding entourage. Only the bride and the groom, the parents of the couple, and one set of sponsors are to be present in the ceremony.

Note: These protocols were taken from the recommendations and guidelines of the CBCP in its previous circulars, the recent recommendations and guidelines for the Liturgical celebration in New Normal Condition, and from what had been agreed upon by the members of the Presbyteral Council is its May 4, 2020 urgent meeting at the OLPHP, Linamon, Lanao del Norte.

Prepared by:
Rev. Fr. Edward A. Labadisos

Approved by:
Most Rev. Jose Ramirez Rapadas III, D.D.
Bishop of Iligan


Source: Diocese Of Iligan