April 3, 2020
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
As the Church of the West prepares to enter Holy Week 2020, our Country is deep in concern, misery and grief as the battle against COVID-19 seems to be in full force. Our prayers go up for all who are afflicted and/or fighting for their lives, the heroic personnel on the frontlines and our sympathy is offered to all who have experienced loss of life in their communities or among their loved ones. Practically the entire globe feels the stifling impact of the Coronavirus outbreak and spread in these days. In the midst of such heaviness, the Church boldly proclaims the mystery of redemption and will unravel in sacred sign those saving events which make up the pageantry of our Holy Week ceremonies. Unfortunately, this year’s celebration of Holy Week is anything but ideal in that our parishioners are asked to remain safe in their homes and thereby not actively participating in the liturgical movements that are so meaningful to all of us. However, as I stated in an earlier communication, for us Christians Holy Week remains Holy Week. In an attempt to engage parish communities without bringing the faithful together, pastors of souls are called to be even more creative this year in offering them the food of right doctrine and helpful resources which will unite them, at least spiritually speaking, to the sacred drama of the Church’s liturgy being celebrated without their physical presence in attendance. To that end, St. Francis de Sales Parish will disseminate “worship aids” and prayer guides by email and website to be used in your homes on Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord and again for the movements of the annual Paschal Triduum. Additionally, Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Good Friday’s Celebration of the Lord’s Passion will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube from our parish at 7p on both evenings. I hope you will join me, virtually speaking, and together, as a parish family, we will lift our hearts in prayer.
Speaking of prayer, I would ask that all of us be mindful of another crucial sector serving our Country at this time of the pandemic and place their workforce in the Lord’s hands: the transportation industry and personnel who move food and cleaning supplies to the nation’s grocery stores, food banks and other such outlets. These commodities remain in high demand especially given the hoarding tendencies evidenced in many places as we moved into national containment mode. I would like to add to this group the restaurateurs and their employees who remain closed by State regulations but manage to feed the multitudes in offering carry-out services for countless households in neighborhoods throughout the land, much needed free meals for those who cannot provide for their own families at this time and well-balanced meals and beverage deliveries for those on the frontlines: first responders and healthcare workers. We have many such industrious people in our own parish and they are working tirelessly, often times with limited staff members and little to no time off for their personal recreational needs. May God bless them all and keep them strong in their ministry of feeding a nation in peril!
Another important piece of diocesan news I would like to share with you is the indefinite postponement of the 2020 Catholic Sharing Appeal as announced by our Bishop. His decision was based upon the current and unprecedented national shutdown and the obvious economic downturn impacting so many by job loss, furloughs and temporary unemployment. While I am usually a huge fan of the diocesan appeal because of the benefits our parish has reaped over the last few years, I commend the Bishop’s wise decision to postpone it indefinitely as we make our way through this worldwide emergency of combatting the COVID-19 threat. As I understand it, Bishop Brennan wants our parishes to be the top priority for our diocesan families at this time. In spite of careful financial oversight and reduced spending in these weeks, parish payroll and other such disbursements continue to weigh on us because of decreased sacrificial giving in these hard times. Please know I remain grateful for all who are continuing to remember St. Francis de Sales Parish with weekly contributions by mail (offertory envelopes) and online giving. Heartfelt thanks to those who have increased their donations at this time when others cannot give because of temporary and sudden loss of income. Again, St. Francis de Sales Parish is a family and family helps family.
Finally, I want to assure each and all of you of a special place in my prayers throughout Holy Week. You and your loved ones will be remembered before the Altar of the Lord as I pray for your health, safety and peace even as our nation bitterly fights the Coronavirus pandemic. Please note that I will issue only one letter next week which will arrive well before the opening of the Paschal Triduum at sundown on Holy Thursday. Stay safe, stay put and stay firm in the faith of the Church that will transport all of us to ancient Jerusalem this coming week where we will witness the heart of the Savior revealed in His Suffering, Death and Resurrection to new life. May God bless us all and keep us strong in His love and mercy.
Yours in Christ,