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Updates for Advent

Advent and Christmas 2020 Matrix

Click the title to download the PDF version of the matrix.
Best practices and guidelines references in the matrix are detailed below and PDFs of those are also available to download. 


Advent and Christmas Best Practices and Guidelines

To download a PDF version of the information provided below, please click on the individual section title. 

Advent Reconciliation Services


  • Follow the Catholic Comeback Matrix for Mass.
  • Consider online registration, so that your parish knows how many people plan to attend.
  • During individual reconciliation, people are invited to exit the pew one at a time and go to a specific station that is monitored by an usher. The usher is responsible for cleaning that station after each person is done.
  • Single-use “How to Go to Confession” cards (below) are given to each person upon arrival, or information is put into the single-use worship aid.
Giving Tree

Tag Retrieval

Multiple Trees will be needed:

  • One tree for each organization that is the recipients of the gifts.
  • Trees are labeled so people know which tree belongsto which organization.
  • Tags are placed on each tree by masked, glovedvolunteers.
  • Trees are spaced apart in the sanctuary, gathering area, etc. in a place at the parish that parish members are able to access all sides of a tree.

Parish members are invited to select a tag from the tree before and after Masses on weekends convenient to the parish.

  • Each tree should have a volunteer monitor the number of individuals allowed to pick a tag off the tree at a time. Two people at the tree at a time is the ideal maximum.
  • Individuals must sanitize their hands before picking a tag.
    • Once a tag is picked, the individual goes back to their pew or exits the worship space

Other options of selecting tags:

  • Electronic Selection of Tags via an online registration page that the parish sets up.
    • Gift Return can be the same as above.
  • Tags are handed out before and after Mass by Human Concerns Committee Members or other volunteers to people in pews. What you get, is what you get.
    • Gift Return can be the same as above.

Gift Return

Parish Members are reminded to wear gloves and masks when wrapping items that will be donated.

Option 1

  • Gifts are returned to the parish on a self-selected date. Items are brought to the organization’s tree location and given to masked, gloved volunteers who then place the gifts near the tree.

Option 2

  • Gifts are collected at the parish entrance by masked, gloved volunteers who take the gifts to locations specific for each organization represented.
  • This option eliminates the need to sort gifts at the end, as all gifts have been sorted as they are returned.

No matter what way you decide to do a Giving Tree, COMMUNICATION IS KEY.
The list of organizations being helped, as well as any details, need to be communicated to parish members via email, bulletins, etc. for many weeks before the Giving Trees are up
and ready to be used.

Oplatki Sales
  • Envelopes are set up where the distribution can be monitored by a staff member or volunteer.
  • Social-distanced line.
  • People use hand sanitizer right before they select the envelopes, but after they have given their money.
    • Pay
    • Sanitize hands
    • Select envelopes


SCRIP / Wreath Sales
  • Set up sales table so that a socially-distanced line can be formed.
  • Masks must be worn by sales person/people, as well as those that are making purchase.
  • Hand sanitizer must be used before each sale and after each sale.
  • Sales table must be cleaned in between customers.
  • If pens are to be used, sales table should have a “clean pen cup” and “dirty pen cup.” Dirty pens should either be disposed of or sanitized after use.
  • Having a way to pre-pay for an order would be ideal, then all that would happen at the sales table is pick up.

Accommodating Mass-Goers for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 2020

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee remains in Phase 2 of the Catholic Comeback Plan. Following the Archbishop’s
Mass directives, attendance is limited by the ability to maintain social distancing in the church space, rather than
by a percentage of capacity. Strict adherence and vigilance with cleaning and sanitizing protocols are required.
Below are some suggestions on how your community might accommodate worshippers this Christmas.

Mass Times and Spaces

  • Offer Masses mid-evening on Christmas Eve (i.e., at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.)
  • Offer Mass on the evening of Christmas Day
  • Offer simultaneous Masses on church grounds, utilizing a help-out priest and musician
  • For parishes with multiple worship sites, offer additional Masses at all sites, staggering times
  • Livestream Masses to overflow seating if the space is contiguous to the church proper

Invitations and Announcements

  • Utilize robocalls, invitational videos on social media, emails and push notifications to communicate Mass times, inform of any procedures (i.e. registration) and communicate safety measures
  • Hang a banner on your building or property to highlight Mass times
  • Post your Advent and Christmas Mass times on the homepage of your parish website
  • Update your Advent and Christmas Mass times on the archdiocesan website
  • Coordinate Mass times with the parishes in your cluster, municipality or deanery, and publish a joint schedule several weeks before Christmas

Registration and Staffing

  • Utilize a registration process (
  • If your parish uses a registration process, offer registration up to 90% of the social-distancing capacity to allow for some walk-ins
  • Ask your staff and key leaders to be present for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses, to assist with coordination and welcoming. Pastors, administrators and parish directors are also asked to consider providing staff with additional time off during Christmas week for their efforts during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses.

Help-Out Priests and Musicians

  • Archbishop Listecki has set aside funds to assist parishes in need with help-out fees. The deadline to apply for these funds is December 15, 2020. Apply today!
  • For a list of retired, religious or special assignment priests who are available as help-outs, please contact Jodi Bowers at
  • For a list of musicians who may be available for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses, please contact Susan McNeil at

Online Registration Programs for Mass Attendance





FLOCKNOTE – SIGNUPS: Article explaining how to use this feature

HOMETOWN TICKETS – If your parish is trying to manage capacity of churchgoers this
fall/winter due to Covid-19, Hometown Tickets can help. Hometown Tickets recently worked
with Holy Family Parish in Fond du Lac to allow parishioners to secure their seat by reserving
a space online. Parishioners simply went to a website, secured their seats for the Mass that fit
their schedule, and then showed their “MASS PASS” when they arrived for the liturgy. Mass
Passes were free to the parishioner. Hometown Tickets can provide you with real time updates
and capacity management tools to keep your church site safe for those who attend. For more
information, email



Helpful Tips to Get You Started

Before beginning any registration program, you will need you to know how many seats you have to offer per Mass. How many seats you have depends on how you set up your seating.

Allow for at least 6 feet of distance between individuals/households (6 feet of distance is not only side to side, but also front to back).

  • If you have traditional pews, you will need to rope off 1 to 2 vacant pews in between each used pew.
  • Make sure there is ample room in a pew for people to sit comfortably and safely.
  • Some of your pews may only be able to accommodate 1 to 2 people, or a small family. Other pews may be able to accommodate a larger family.
  • It may be helpful to indicate on the end of a pew what the capacity is for that pew.
  • If the pew is very long, tape off the middle six feet of the pew and have individuals/households sit on either side of the taped-off portion.
  • If you have moveable chairs, we suggest you arrange them for individuals, couples and families.

Ushers/Hospitality Ministers are going to be key in helping to maintain the seating limits and capacities.

  • Ushers/Hospitality Ministers need to be trained on which pews are for how many people, as well as what to do if pews for specifically-sized households run out.
  • No matter how well a parish communicates the registration process, you will have those who do not register.
  • A parish needs to decide how they handle these situations:
    • Do you have a “waiting area” for those who did not register, and they can be seated at a certain time in seats that people did not take?
    • Do you have a section reserved for those who did not register?
    • Do you turn people away (not the best idea)?

Communication is key:

  • Emails
  • Mailings
  • Phone calls
  • Website
  • Text Messages
  • Outdoor signage
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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408