UPDATE: JULY 7, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It has been good to slowly return to normal here at the church. I know I have been thrilled to
welcome some of you back these past few Sundays, though I certainly understand that many still do not feel comfortable returning. Thankfully Bishop Barres has extended the suspension of our obligation to attend Sunday Mass. During the past months, while it has been more difficult to be in contact with you without a bulletin, I hope many were able to make use of our communications on the website, Facebook, and Flocknote. If you haven’t yet looked into them, they are a great way to keep connected and receive updates in a time where things seem to be ever-changing. I am glad we have a bulletin again though, and I thought I would use this opportunity to offer an update on where the parish stands after these past
In terms of schedule, beginning this weekend we will almost be back to normal. Mass times will be as usual, with the limitation of the 7AM Sunday Mass for 65 and older parishioners, and the addition of the 8AM Sunday Mass. Confessions will now return to Saturdays from 3:45-4:45 in the new confessionals. Please note that one side is kneeling and one side is sitting, and as discussed, both sides have a screen. If you are planning to return and receive Communion after a long absence, it is important to be sure to make a good confession prior. Adoration hours have expanded due to a marked increase in adorers, so they will now be Mondays and Wednesdays (excluding holidays) from 12:30-8PM. It has been great to see more people stopping in to pray, and if you would like to commit to a time to adore
please contact the rectory.
In terms of what was going on here during the quarantine – where to begin! We were able to lead a series of processions through the town, bringing our Lord and our Blessed Mother into the streets when we couldn’t be here with them in the Church. The clergy blessed many homes on Easter, and I did my best to call all of our parishioners. If you didn’t receive a call, be sure to check with the rectory and make sure we have your updated number! (I also forgive you if you hung up on me thinking I was a telemarketer). We did our best to have a strong online presence, streaming Masses and Holy Hours, hosting virtual Stump the Priest and Bible Study sessions, and other programs which are still going on now. Over in our Social Ministry, things were busier than ever. We were blessed to have Dee in the
office each day helping a much larger number of needy families, and I’m sure I speak for her as well in thanking all of you for your incredible generosity in donating food. Our school was also able to transition seamlessly. Each student was already used to having their own device for school work, and live instruction never stopped.
In terms of the “nuts and bolts” of the parish, we are in fairly good shape after a stressful few
months. Firstly, I again have to thank all of you for your continued support of the parish. Thanks to your generosity we were able to pay all of our bills and keep all of our staff employed. Also, thanks to some difficult budget cuts last year and a sizable PPP loan (which should be forgiven), we should be strong financially. In terms of capital projects, as much as our larger plan has been delayed a bit, certain aspects of it we have had to move forward on. In particular, we needed to do the roughly $100,000 pointing job on the school to prevent further leaks. We are moving forward on planning for the other projects, and I hope (provided things settle down) we will be able to come together in the next month or two to discuss a plan. One benefit of the quiet time has been that the maintenance staff has also been able to take care of many delayed projects, so we have made the most of it!
Please know we continue to pray for all parishioners, especially those who are sick, those on the front lines, those who have lost someone they love, and all those struggling in this time. We are here for you, and if there is ever anything you may need, do not hesitate to call.
Yours in Christ,
UPDATE: JUNE 11, 2020
RECEPTION OF HOLY COMMUNION
We are excited to announce that beginning at the Saturday Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi we are once again allowed to distribute Holy Communion. The following procedures will be utilized to maintain safety while distributing:
- Holy Communion will be distributed after the conclusions of Mass. After the Final Blessing and the sending forth, everyone will be invited to be seated. An usher will then proceed to invite parishioners forward row by row to receive. At that time if you are still uncomfortable receiving you may exit toward the back instead.
- The aisle will be marked with tape at 6 foot intervals to maintain proper distancing.
- Those able to wear masks are invited to approach the priest or deacon, lower the mask, receive the Blessed Sacrament, and then proceed back to their seats. You are asked not to wear gloves when receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
- If the priest or deacon makes contact with the parishioner receiving Holy Communion, he will immediately purify his hands.
- Communicants have the option to receive Holy Communion on the hand or on the tongue as the above precautions make this possible without increased risk. Those receiving on the tongue will be invited to kneel on a prie-dieu, as it reduces the likelihood of the minister coming in contact with the communicant’s mouth.
- After reception of Holy Communion, communicants are invited to return to their seats, make a prayer of thanksgiving, and then an usher will assist inviting everyone in departing row by row when the distribution is completed.
- The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still suspended, so one does not commit a grave sin in failing to attend as is normally the case.
- If you intend to receive Holy Communion after this long refrain, you are strongly encouraged to confess your sins prior. It is a central tenet of our faith that one should not receive the Blessed Sacrament without spiritual preparation, and the primary means of preparing is purifying one’s soul of sin in confession. Confessions will be available on Saturdays in the parking lot between the church and school between 2 and 4 PM.
UPDATE: JUNE 9, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Thanks be to God! We have officially been given the go ahead to have public Masses! How beautiful that on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we come together as a community of faith to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. May God bless you all for your patience and understanding throughout this trying time. We continue to pray for the leaders making decisions that they may do so with wisdom, and we pray that all those who are sick or suffering may find comfort, that all those who serve may find protection, and that all those who have died may rest in peace.
There’s a lot to update everyone on, so here we go!
- We are able to offer Masses at 25% capacity – which for our church is roughly 175-185 people.
- Daily Masses will therefore resume Wednesday, June 10th, at 8:30 AM and 12:05 PM.
- Weekend Masses will also resume. It is hard to know at this time if we will have a large number of people attending, or if the return will occur more slowly. Our Mass schedule will therefore follow our normal schedule with a few additions to ensure everyone has the ability to attend.
- We are prepared to hold a second 5 PM Mass on Saturday in the auditorium if necessary.
- We ask that the Sunday 7 AM Mass be limited to the vulnerable demographic – those 65 and older. We will also add an 8 AM Mass, so that those who would like an early Mass but are not in that demographic can still attend. The 9 AM Mass will occur as usual. The 10:30 AM and 12 PM Masses tend to have larger crowds, so those Masses we hope to hold on the school lawn – this will also offer an opportunity for those who still do not feel comfortable gathering indoors. Weather permitting, we will invite parishioners to bring their own lawn chairs and spread out. If not, we will post updates on our website and through Flocknote, and we are prepared to offer a second Mass in the auditorium if the church is filled. The 5:30 PM Mass and the 7 PM Spanish Mass will occur as usual. The 10:30 AM Mass will be live-streamed on Facebook.
- All parishioners will be required to wear a mask or face covering while attending Mass.
- In order to follow social distancing protocols, the pews in the church have been marked out at 6 feet intervals, with a pew left empty in between. If attending as an individual, there are 4 potential seats – the two aisle seats, or two seats toward the middle marked with blue tape. If attending as a family, you may sit together, and any individuals that share the pew with you are asked to sit one section farther away.
- When arriving, you are asked to go directly to a seat and not congregate or chat.
- During Mass, medical professionals are recommending that singing and responding remain minimal as this increases the spread of germs. Additionally, the sign of peace is still suspended and Holy Communion is not yet allowed (6/11/20 UPDATE: PLEASE SEE ABOVE). We will not pass collection baskets, but if you would like to make an offering, donation boxes will be available at the doors.
- At the end of Mass, we will ask all parishioners to be seated, and you will be invited to leave pew by pew so there is no congregating at the exits.
- Hand sanitizer can be found at the entrances of the church, though we encourage parishioners to bring their own. We have a large number of people coming into the church and it will be difficult to maintain a supply, so your cooperation in this matter is much appreciated.
- It is recommended that windows and doors remain open, so I apologize if the church becomes warm.
- It will also be difficult to adequately disinfect the bathrooms, so you are asked to please refrain from using them.
- After Mass, commonly touched surfaces and common areas of the church will be disinfected.
- We will need volunteers to help with these new protocols. In order to effectively and efficiently disinfect the church, we are asking for at least four volunteers after each Mass to assist us with a quick wipe down of surfaces. If you are able to assist please contact the rectory.
Sacraments and Devotions:
- Funerals, weddings, and baptisms can all proceed with the limitation of 25%. If you lost a loved one during the time when funerals were suspended, please contact the rectory and we will work with you in scheduling a Memorial Mass.
- Confessions will be offered each Saturday from 2 PM – 4 PM in the parking lot between the school and the church. Please enter from Mayfair Road.
- During the state PAUSE order, we were blessed to be able to offer extended adoration hours. With businesses reopening and changing schedules, we are looking to reconfirm our adoration schedule and add new adorers if there are any who are interested. Please contact the rectory if you would like to take an hour. As of now we are looking to offer adoration on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 12:30 PM – 8 PM.
- Regretfully in this time we are still no longer allowed to provide a bulletin. Our primary means of communication are the website, Facebook, and Flocknote. If you are having trouble accessing any of these platforms please contact the rectory. Moving forward I will resume publishing pastor’s letters with updates on these platforms, and would ask parishioners to please share updates with anyone you know who may not have access to technology.
- For Corpus Christi we will be holding a procession with the Most Blessed Sacrament. Six locations have been chosen, and volunteers will prepare altars throughout the town at which we will spend some time in adoration and close with benediction. Please see the below ad for details regarding time, location, and the rain date in case of inclement weather.
- Due to the shutdown, I know many were disappointed that we were unable to be in church during the Mother’s Day Novena of Masses. We will be putting out in the church the cards for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, if you would like to take this time to remember all intentions.
- We will continue to post video programming online. Currently scheduled for the Tuesdays in June at 7:30PM is a Bible Study of the Gospel of Matthew. I will be joined by the vocation director and exceptional priest, Fr Sean Magaldi.
I apologize for this long, technical letter, but I would like to continue to be as clear and transparent as I can be regarding the directives I have received. It has greatly pained me over these past months not being able to be with you and serve you, so I have done and will do my best to offer you whatever the state and diocese allow. Before I end though, I would like to briefly reflect on some of these directives and hopefully point out the good God is perhaps trying to work through difficult times. I would like to comment on a few of these procedures that can certainly be of benefit.
Reception of Holy Communion: Especially on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, as much as we long for the Eucharist, we can see the way in which we can learn from this experience. So many of us have become numb to what an incredible gift the Eucharist is, and receive with minimal attention and out of habit. In this time we remember what a gift the Eucharist is, and more than that, the fact that while attendance at Mass is (normally) obligatory, reception of Holy Communion is not. One should refrain from receiving if one has committed a mortal sin and not gone to confession, if one has eaten within an hour of receiving, or if one is spiritually unprepared to receive. It is a grave sin to miss Mass without a good reason, while it is also a grave sin to receive Holy Communion without being in a state of grace. I hope that all of us will take the time to purify our souls with a good confession before receiving again.
Entrance and Exit Procedures: It will also be beneficial to enter and leave the church directly and quietly. We can get in the habit of joining into conversations inside of the church before and after Mass, disturbing the quiet peace that should always be present in a house of prayer. If we would like to speak with someone, we should excuse ourselves from the church. Also, before and after Mass, as we are waiting, it is a beautiful opportunity to pray. It is hard to focus on the Mass when we are rushing in with so many worries. And after Mass there is a beautiful custom of offering a thanksgiving, taking a few moments with Christ in our hearts to thank God for His incredible generosity.
Limited Participation: The limitation on responses and singing, as well as the inability to volunteer in a ministerial capacity, is also a good reminder of what it means to truly participate at Mass. We can often think participation is saying the words, singing, or even needing to do something like lector. But we know as Catholics the most important way we participate at Mass is spiritually. To participate is to unite our hearts with Christ on the cross, offering ourselves to God in love. Whether we be a priest or minister or person in the pews, everything is secondary compared to that.
I would like to assure you all of my continued prayers. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns, and know that I and the entire staff are here to serve you in any way we can.
Yours in Christ,