Dear Fellow Parishioners,
The events of the past week have shown once again, why confronting COVID-19 (and now, the Delta variant) as a parish community has been challenging and, at times, exasperating. In my message to you last week, I stressed personal responsibility but stopped short of asking anyone to wear a mask.
Now, with the rise of COVID-related cases, we are being asked once again by our health officials to wear masks while indoors. This seems to me both prudent and not unduly burdensome. It is what the vast majority of our parishioners are doing anyway, out of concern for their own health, and out of consideration for the concerns of others. Simply stated, we are to wear masks while indoors, but we can remove them once we are outdoors.
My goal through all of this has been to enable as many people as possible to attend Mass as safely as possible. In fact, we have a noticeable number of new parishioners, in addition to many long-time parishioners who are returning to Sunday or weekly Mass. (It’s harder to see you, because of the masks and because many of you are no longer sitting in your usual places!)
For those still not ready to return to Mass in church, Sunday and weekday Mass will continue to be available at the parish website. I remember you every time I offer Mass in our church.
Finally, one of the things that has made COVID-19 so challenging is the degree of free-floating negativity, fear and frankly, anger in our country. This has been a trying experience for all of us, and many people are understandably “on edge.” As a pandemic, COVID-19 has struck like a tornado which, for no apparent reason, hops through neighborhoods and destroys some houses while leaving their neighbors’ houses untouched. Some families and businesses have been minimally affected, while other families have suffered great losses, including the illness or death of loved ones, separation from family and friends, or losses associated with their livelihoods or businesses. The news media, as is their duty, have provided non-stop coverage for nearly 1-1/2 years, in big-screen living color.
The best and most constructive thing we can do as a parish family, for ourselves and for our wider community, is to maintain our parish church as a sacred space for all, as a sanctuary of peace and spiritual refreshment which this current pandemic of negativity and confusion cannot penetrate. Thanks to your help, I believe we have navigated these rough waters exceptionally well so far. I believe we will continue to do so, as we already have, in the spirit of Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
Fr. Bill Donahue