Mass and Social Distancing

Dear Parishioners of St. Joseph and Our Lady of Fatima and Holy Family,

I am hopeful that we will be opening up the Churches for public Masses beginning Tuesday May 19th.  However, if that is delayed these procedures would likely still be applied whenever we do start. 

The goal of this letter is to help you do the following:

  1. Get a general sense of what is going on and how to participate in Mass when we reopen.
  2. Give basic information about signing up for Mass (Yes, you need to sign up before coming)
  3. Give you information about the new temporary Mass schedule
  4. Give some basic information on procedures while attending Mass.
    1. What to do for an Outdoor Mass.
  5. More information is available on our website:
    1. Video assistance on signing up for Mass
    2. Videos on sanitizing, Communion line, entering and exiting the Church.

General Information:
We are limited to using every third pew for seating at each Mass.  We need to follow social distancing during Mass as best we can.  You are welcome to wear masks, but not required to.  Parishioners should not congregate in the Church either before or afterwards to visit and talk.  If you need to touch base with someone please do so outside while maintaining social distancing.  That will entail staying 6 feet apart.  Because of this, we need to utilize a sign up for seating.  This will entail signing up ahead of time for a pew.  If you just show up at Mass, we cannot be sure to accommodate those who do not sign up.  In the event that a pew is unclaimed, someone could use an empty pew, but at this point its hard to know what the demand will be.

For the collection we will have a box in the Church entrances for people to put their envelopes in.  We will not be passing baskets.

Signing up for a Pew for Masses:
To sign up for Mass we are using Sign up Genius which is an online program.  You can find the link to sign up for Masses at Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph on our website: There is also a video explaining how to sign up online. 

For those who do not have the ability to sign up online you may call one of the following parishioners who have volunteered to assist those who can’t navigate the sign-up software or do not have internet access.  Please be kind and patient with them, this is new for them too, but they have agreed to help.

  • Tommy Sablan - 702-460-2711
  • Joanne Ruttger - 218-851-3750
  • Mary Lee Dallman - 218-851-0193
  • Joan Hasskamp - 218-546-5554
  • Doreen Miller-Fish - 218-546-5707
  • Ed Kirk – 612-805-5462

The signup will be open beginning Saturday the 16th and will be open for the dates May 19th-26th.  You will sign up by reserving a pew for your family.  Some pews are large enough to accommodate two smaller families.  So, make sure, when you sign up you have an idea of how many people you have in your family.  Be aware that to reserve some pews (larger ones), you made need to reserve two parts (A&B).  This will make more sense when you look at the pew diagrams (see below for the two different churches). 

Picking a pew:
For instance, if you wanted to sign up for a family of five at St. Joes, you would need a whole pew.  Therefore, you if you saw that the first row on the left was open (L1A & L1B), you would sign up for both of them.  If however you only had one or two or possibly even three people, you could just pick one side or the other (L1A or L1B).

If the same five-person family wanted to sign up at Our Lady of Fatima, they would also need a full pew.  However, if there was only one to three people in your family, then there are a few pews (BL1-BL3) which can accommodate two smaller families. They could pick one of those, BL3_A for instance.

Temporary Mass Schedule:

Here is the Mass schedule for the time being.  The obligation to attend Mass is still suspended.  There may be good reason for someone to decide to stay at home for now.  Those who have preexisting conditions should probably remain at home.  Each person needs to make their own judgment of what risks they are willing to take.  The Mass schedule may change according to our needs and capabilities:

Mon. 8 AM St Joseph
Tues. Noon St Joseph
Wed. 9 AM Our Lady of Fatima
Thurs. 6 PM St Joseph
Fri. 6 PM St Joseph

4:00 PM Our Lady of Fatima
6 PM Our Lady of Fatima

8:30 AM St Joseph
10:30 AM St Joseph (Outdoor)

You will notice the Mass times are varied to allow people to attend Mass at various times depending on their weekly schedule.  We are hopeful that people who wish, can try to attend at least one Mass each week.  We ask you to be considerate of others who may wish to attend when you are signing up.  You can always check back the day before or on the same day to see if there is extra space at a given Mass.  The Masses will be pretty simplified.  Music will be simple, since there will be no hymnals.  Not every Mass will have music.

Outdoor Mass:
Note that there is one outdoor Mass being offered at St. Josephs on Sunday Morning at 10:30 AM.  The point of having an outdoor Mass, is that we can accommodate more people and that nobody needs to sign up for it.  It may be that we do not need this Mass to be outdoors, but after the first few weeks, we will make a judgment whether it needs to be outdoors or not.  This Mass will be outside on the east side of the property in the parking lot at St. Joseph.  If there is inclement weather, the Mass will be cancelled.  I am defining inclement weather as rain, or precipitation any time between 9:30 and 10:30.  If it seems there is a good chance that rain will fall during Mass, that would cause it to be cancelled as well.  Each family will need to bring their own chairs or seating equipment for this outdoor Mass. 

Music will be very simple at this Mass, a cappella (no instruments). 

For communion the Diocese is going to give further guidance, but at this time we are still waiting for the full details.  What I know currently is that you can’t wear gloves if you are going to receive on the hand, and anyone wearing a mask would need to remove it.  We will need to keep 6 feet from other households in the communion line.  It seems that communion will be distributed at the normal time, or possibly after Mass is finished.  I am not sure which guidance will be given at this time, but we will give instruction at Mass.

We are in need of ushers to help at each of the Masses.  Ushers will assist with helping people find their assigned pews, which they reserved before the Mass.  Ushers will assist with communion lines, and ushers and other volunteers will assist with sanitizing the churches after each Mass.  We may need more volunteers to help with sanitizing the Church, if you are willing to help with either of these ministries please call the parish office at 218-546-6559 or email us at [email protected]  If you want to do either of these ministries we have a training this coming Saturday May 16th at 10 AM at St. Joes.

Please view our welcome home video at

Welcome back, God Bless you, and we will see you soon!

-Fr. Eli