Dear Parishioners and Friends:
Paschal greetings to you and your households!
So much of our Country is currently engaged in deciphering a working plan to carefully reopen the doors of business, worship and leisure and, at the same time, promoting our health and wellbeing even as we combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our prayers are with those responsible for such steps in returning to relative normalcy. Their decisions impact our lives and the livelihoods of so many! Let’s ask the Lord to bless them with wisdom in facing the reality before us. As Christians, we are called to support with our prayers all those in governance. As an Easter people, we are called to be signs of hope in the power of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery at work in each of our hearts. Our faith urges us to build a civilization of life and love in the society wherein we find ourselves. Today, especially, our world needs our prayerful support! Our patience, too, is needed as we move forward in these days and weeks ahead.
I would like to focus on the family in this communication. These past several weeks have weighed heavily on our parents in assuming a greater “hands on” approach in educating their children in both the faith and scholastic endeavors as our institutions of learning remain closed. Thanks to technology and the hard work of our teachers, instructors and administrators, the quest of education goes on but in different ways. On a more personal note, I would like to acknowledge and thank Mr. Arthur Moore and our SFdSCCS family as well as Ms. Karen Modzik and the REP instructors, who continue to work with our parents who are assisting their children with ongoing learning during containment. Their dedication is greatly appreciated! Our parents, too, deserve our respect and encouragement. Many are balancing work at home with tutoring their children while maintaining their households, checking on neighbors and often times providing care for their parents or other relatives. Parents, thank you for a fantastic job!
Another subject I would like to address is my gratitude for your sense of stewardship demonstrated during this time of suspension of congregating for religious services. Your donations made by online giving and USPS mail delivery continue to sustain us! In addition to the usual disbursements of payroll, utilities, charitable giving, bill paying and the monthly school assessment, we are engaging in some projects already committed. The long-awaited new barn windows arrived and are being replaced as I construct this letter. Regular seasonal maintenance projects, too, have been underway over the past few weeks. Your generosity and faithfulness give me great hope! God has blessed St. Francis de Sales Parish with tremendous parishioners who take seriously their sharing of time, talent and treasure. Again, your pastor is indeed blessed to shepherd such a loving and responsible community of believers! In caring for our present, even in these hard times, we secure our bright future here in Morgantown. May God bless the dedicated labors, sacrificial giving, and fraternal concern especially to the needy which mark out our parish family with distinction! I have shared with you before that St. Francis de Sales leads the diocese in online donations in parish giving. Recently the diocesan offices have gone to great lengths to expand the footprint of online giving in all our parishes by promoting its convenience especially in these days of suspension of all public liturgies. The lack of weekly basket passing is indeed felt by all parish communities throughout West Virginia and our entire Country. This factor compounds an already hard pressed local, Particular (diocesan) and national expression of the Catholic Church facing an aging population, a decline in ministerial vocations and the sad reality of some members who no longer ascribe to active participation in their parish communities. Such a reality should prompt all of us to greater prayer and work in building up the Kingdom of the Lord in our midst.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite our parish family members who have not yet considered the benefits of online giving to please do so. The ease of ParishSOFT Giving is especially helpful now. To learn more, instructional videos may be viewed at: https://www.givinghelpdesk.com/2020/04/08/giver-resources/ then conveniently access ParishSOFT Giving by clicking the “Donate Online” button on our parish website, https://stfrancisdesalesparish.com/. Our Parish Finance Council members carefully follow the trends evidenced in our parish community and, again, online giving has been such a blessing for us. Heartfelt thanks to all who support our parish!
Finally, I want to draw attention to this Sunday’s Gospel narrative. The Journey to Emmaus rings in all our hearts as we, a Community of Believers (the Church), are challenged to recognize the same Risen Lord Jesus in the very same manner as His first disciples: in the opening of the Scriptures and in the Breaking of the Bread. Particularly now, when the Mystery of the Altar is celebrated in an unusual manner due to precautionary measures dictated, members of the Church continue to grow in the likeness of the Risen Savior by the Eucharist that makes us one Church, even as we remain scattered in our homes. All of us are longing to gather once again as a parish family and to have the Scriptures opened for us and to partake in that most familiar act of the fractione panis / the breaking of bread called the Mass. May our hearts grow in love for the Lord and for one another through these weeks of containment and may all of us rejoice at His Altar at St. Francis de Sales Parish soon!
Stay well and know of my prayers for all of you each day at the Altar.
Yours in Christ,