March 27, 2020
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
I am praying my message finds you well, safe, and staying close to home as we remain in containment mode to promote the reduction of community spread. Like you, I am praying for a quick solution to this pandemic and specialists, I am sure, will direct us as we move forward. Of course, our minds and hearts united in prayer continue to strengthen our human resolve around the globe. The power of prayer cannot be relegated to “second place” for any of us, especially because we are the Church, a community of believers, realized universally, diocesan-wide, locally as a parish family and even in the domestic expressions in each of our homes. Prayer remains a key factor for us, along with a host of professional endeavors such as science, medicine, and governance that we see playing out with record speed in battling this virus. So, as a body of believers, let’s support those worldwide efforts by stepping up with even greater prayer time in our hour of need!
Speaking of the power of prayer, I am happy to announce this Sunday’s Eucharistic celebration will be live streamed from St. Francis de Sales Church at the usually scheduled 10a Mass time. Even though we cannot congregate physically, I hope the “virtual congregation” of us at 10a on Sunday will bring consolation, peace and a spirit of connection among our parish membership. By now, most of you realize I possess little to no tech savvy, so I am most grateful to our parishioners Robert Phipps and Sharon Shatzer who have collaborated to make the event possible. Robert will operate the camera, at the recommended safe distance, of course, and I would like to invite you to join him, in your homes, in making the appropriate verbal responses for our Mass of the Fifth Sunday of Lent. One disclaimer: I will be far from my personal comfort zone with all the technology at work around me while I stand at the Altar before all of you on the screen! 🙂 Please know, however, that I look forward to “seeing” you on Sunday at 10a! We will live-stream Mass from the Parish Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stfrancismorgantown/ this Sunday at 10a. This will be our maiden voyage with the technology used and we will do our best! After the actual Mass time, a link will then be added to our parish website for later viewing as well.
I already made a shout out to the parish staff and all in our parish family to utilize the means we have to stay connected with each other. Random acts of kindness such as phone calls, text messages and notes can be so therapeutic for the ones we know and love at this time! I pray all are making an effort to touch base with fellow parishioners, family members and friends. I have also addressed the need for increased prayer time for all of us. Lent 2020 will go down in history; let’s match the historical impact of this penitential time with increased prayer! Without a doubt, we are mindful of the suffering of those afflicted, their loved ones, healthcare workers who remain at risk on a daily basis, first responders and others who are on the frontline of the battle. Let’s not forget to pray fervently for breadwinners and their families who have been thrown into a financial tailspin as a result of the temporary job loss scenario facing so many.
Another subject I would like to highlight at this time is our own mental and emotional wellness in these days of self-isolation and social distancing. As humans we are social beings and so much of what is part of us has been taken away! We know, too, that such precautionary measures exacted are not permanent, but even temporary timeframes are difficult for us to swallow. Depression, loneliness and perceived abandonment can weigh heavily on any of us. All of us can register frustration attached to postponements, suspensions, changing of plans and closures. My point: we need to stay one step ahead and think positively. Something good can emerge from the major inconveniences created by this pandemic! I have heard many parishioners tell me they have enjoyed family walks together, dinner at the same time and same table, prayer time experiences as a family, game playing opportunities made available, tackling “to do” projects which have been on our lists, leisure time and reading, to name just a few potential benefits in what has become an about-face moment for us…even temporarily. Let’s cling to these good things in the midst of a bad situation! Containment has offered all of us an opportunity for greater awareness of our humanity and we are more conscious of our relationships. Self-isolation has stirred some hearts to deeper compassion for others expressed in selfless acts of kindness and concern manifested around the globe at this time. Let me be clear, the Coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc in all our lives in so many ways but perhaps there has been a silver-lining here for all of us! We have had the time, a precious gift in each of our busy lives, to re-evaluate what is important to us. Many have examined their relationships with God, others and even self. Those are good things that will make us more loving, more caring and more confident as we move forward to brighter days.
We will all look at the world differently because we have been changed by the experience of the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. I shared with one parishioner that I firmly believe there is potential here and now for all of us to emerge from this nightmare stronger, healthier, and happier because we’ve witnessed the other side…even temporarily. Let’s not lose sight of our faith perspective here: God loves us and will provide for all our needs.
Until next time, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay well, stay in, stay safe, and stay firm in faith and in doing good works.
Yours in Christ,