A “Catch All” Letter
Dear Friends in Christ,
This is one of those “catch all” letters. First and foremost, please know that you and your loved ones are in my prayers. I pray for your safety and well-being, your health and most especially that you may remain close to Our Lord who loves you so very much. It has been a true burden that we have been unable to open up the church and have everyone come to Mass. It saddens my heart to know that many have been deprived of the sacraments for many weeks now. I would like to invite you again to come to one of the weekday Masses. These are smaller gatherings than the Sunday Masses. If you cannot come to Mass, then I invite you to come to church and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. The church is open all day and the Adoration Chapel is open 24/7. If you are restricted to home, pray the Liturgy of the Word and make a Spiritual Communion. Pray your rosary or spend time in mental prayer.
If you do come to Mass, please remember that you are asked to observe the health protocols of washing hands frequently, keeping social distance, wearing face masks, and receiving communion in the hand. If you are in any of the “at risk” groups (over 65, have health issues, etc.) you are advised to refrain from coming to Mass at this time. If you are sick, please stay home. If you are anxious or have concerns about being with others during this time, please stay home.
We are busy here at the parish trying to plan the best we can for the fall. We are planning on restarting our activities and programs in the fall. How and to what degree remain to be seen. Obviously, plans are subject to changing conditions. I would encourage you to plan as well. Plan on coming to Mass, sending the kids to Religious Education, being part of our Adult Formation program, coming to the Bazaar, etc. One of the more dangerous consequences of this pandemic is that the “new normal” that many are talking about will be missing some of the important and good things of the “old normal.” I am particularly concerned about our human interaction. For months we have been forced and socialized to keep distance from others, to be suspicious and to be fearful. This is not good. We have been kept from Mass and the sacraments. This has been tragic. In the past, one of the ways people dealt with crisis situations was to turn to God in prayer and by coming to church! We need to reach out to one another, to reassure each other and to support each other in the faith. I ask that you reach out to other parishioners and neighbors. Keep connected and in communication. Pray for them and ask them to pray for you. Invite them to come to church and pray privately and when we totally open back up, invite them to come with you. The best way to get people back to church is not to lose them in the first place. It is up to all of us.
We have on-going registration right now for a number of things in the fall. You can register on-line for our Youth Formation (Religious Education) and for a number of our Adult Formation programs. Details are on the parish website, in this bulletin and you can just contact the offices. Why not consider being a catechist, a youth ministry volunteer or a facilitator for an adult study group? We always receive more than we give when we serve others. As I mentioned, we are planning for our Annual Parish Bazaar on October 11. This is a wonderful event that helps us build and strengthen our parish community and assists us in providing funds for our charitable works. It takes more than 1400 individuals happily serving to make the day a success. Be one of them.
One of the most important things that our parish does is bring people to Jesus and to His Holy Catholic Church through the RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults). This year, these wonderful men and women were delayed. But thanks be to God, we were blessed with 31 new Catholics! Some have taken to calling them our “COVID Catholics.” They were indeed wonderful to remain faithful to their formation and so patient and understanding. It was a joy to see the excitement in them when they were able to be baptized and confirmed and to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Do you know someone who would like to become Catholic? Not sure? Then pray for them and then ask them. Invite them to church with you. Let them know it would be wonderful for them to become Catholic. Share with them your own joy of being a Catholic. It is better to risk a “no” than to miss a “yes!”
Our Social Services Ministries, Joseph’s Coat and the Food Pantry remain closed. This is out of concern for our volunteers as we cannot observe social distance and other health protocols since many of our wonderful volunteers are also in the “at risk” categories. That does not mean that we are not helping those in need. We have teamed up with other agencies to support them remotely. We are also reaching out to our elderly and others in the parish with “care calls” and other efforts. Our parish Home Repair Mission Team made the Journey to Eagle Pass to provide shelter for some of the poorest people in the United States.
You will notice that we are continuing with some of the renovations that were part of our IGNITE Archdiocesan Capital Campaign. In particular, we are continuing with the renovations to the Activity Center, Youth Lounge (now christened “The Den”) and the Youth Formation Offices. We received a portion of the funds from the campaign which enabled us to continue on these projects that had already begun. There are other elements of the campaign that are being postponed until a later date. Our ability to continue these projects means that not only do we receive freshly remodeled and nice spaces, but that the contractors and their workers have a job and a paycheck during these difficult times. That means a roof over their heads, clothes for their kids, food on the table and gas in the car. Your generosity has an impact that touches many lives.
Lastly, I want to say Thank You to all who have so generously supported the parish during these trying times by your financial offerings. Without you and your faithful stewardship, this horrible situation would be even worse. We have taken strides to reduce our spending dramatically. We have cut our budgets for the coming fiscal year and we are monitoring things very closely. So far, we are weathering this storm by the grace of God and you, our devoted and faithful parishioners. I know some have made sacrifices to continue to support our parish. May God bless you. I know as well that there are some who are unable to support the parish financially during this time due to personal financial issues: the loss of a job, family members in crisis, etc. May God bless you in your need. Please do not worry or be anxious, stay strong in your faith and keep praying for our parish. As Mass attendance is still only a small portion of normal, most people are still not able to attend Sunday Mass. As part of the health protocols, we are not able to take up a weekly collection by passing the basket, but we still have bills to pay. It takes more than half million dollars a month to keep our beloved parish going. Payroll, maintenance, overhead, etc. They are all still with us and they add up. I encourage you to please keep our parish, our parishioners and our ministries in your prayers and in your monthly budget! An easy way to make your stewardship offering is by electronic giving. You can set this up on-line with your bank as a bill to pay from your checking account. Another easy way is by automatic giving through the WeShare Program. To set this up, just go on our website or contact the parish offices. Of course, there is still dropping your offertory off at the parish and by mail.
Keep praying and be holy!
In pace Christi,