CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (WJW) — As the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland allows weekday mass to resume on May 25, the holy sacrament of communion won’t look like it did before the coronavirus pandemic began.
“There was some concern about distributing communion, whether these kinds of masks would be sufficient,” said Fr. Paul Rosing of Holy Family Church in Stow of the mask he was wearing.
Parishioners were told to plan on wearing face coverings during mass. There are guidelines for social distancing.
“The priests can’t distribute communion 6 feet away from the parishioners,” said David Soulsby, a member of Holy Family and the president of Central Graphics. He is working on a solution.
“I was an altar boy growing up so this is just a delight for me to be able to participate every Sunday and see something that I built.”
Soulsby’s Cuyahoga Falls company is producing a plexiglass barrier designed for communion.
“We just rolled it out on Friday and it’s been a big hit so we’re just scrambling to start to make it.”
According to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, parishioners are to bring their masks or face covering down to their chin while taking communion, replacing it right after.
“It does allow you to see the person directly as we would like to do at communion time,” Rosing said.
Central Graphics has shifted their workflow to mostly COVID-19-related products, which has helped them to bring back laid-off staff.
“And we’ve hired some college students that are off for the summer and we teach them to build it pretty easily,” Soulsby said.
The partition was designed with convenience in mind.
“It’s very lightweight so that the ushers or lay people can just bring up or set out when it’s needed.”
Central Graphics has been supplying similar products for other sectors like doctor’s offices and nail salons. They are also adapting the communion safety guard for other denominations.
Director of sales Joseph Kist is a member of First Baptist Church of Akron.
“We’re kind of designing as we go along a rolling version of that screen for multi-use ushers going down an aisle,” he said.