Dear Friends in Christ:
With everything going on, it is difficult to know how to navigate from one day to the next. Just to bring you up to date on where we are here at the parish, we are attempting to chart a course that is prudent and moderate. While a middle road aimed at the common good is a good approach, there is a problem with it. There are always some who are dissatisfied. Unlike with Goldilocks’, there is no porridge that is “just right” for everyone. Because what we are doing is not perfect for everyone at all times, patience, forgiveness, understanding, self-sacrifice and above all, charity are needed. Without them, we only succeed in making matters worse. 2020 has been a year which in many ways has revealed our true character. It has revealed our strengths as well as our weaknesses. As the scriptures attest, “Gold is tested in fire, and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation. Trust in God, and He will help you; make your ways straight and hope in Him.” (Sirach 2: 5.6) During this past year, there have been times when our golden character has shined and there have also been times when we have failed. But all is not lost. It is not too late for us to turn to God who is our true hope and only salvation and strive to be better!
Moving forward, St. John Vianney Parish will continue our approach of a phased re-opening. We will try not to hold back too much nor do we want to race too far ahead of ourselves. Courage, patience and trust are needed. As we receive permission, we will continue to increase our capacity at Mass and the level of our parish activities. Currently, we are allowed to have up to 50% capacity of the church for Masses. That translates to 825 people at each Mass in the church. With that limit, we still have room for people at this time. The ropes on the pews have been removed and people are asked to keep two empty spaces between families. We have returned to in-person Religious Formation for youth and sacramental preparation for adults. All of our offices are now open except for Social Services Ministries. In January, 2021, we will expand our activities on a select and limited basis. Tentatively, this will include resuming our Young Children’s Program (YCP), the nursery and certain Parish Life and Adult Formation events. Pastoral Care and Social Services Ministries will be examined on a more limited case by case basis. Gradually activities will be added through Lent and the Easter season. The next major phase will be Summer 2021. We are examining how we may have some special events during this time period for youth and families. Lastly, we hope and anticipate a total re-opening for the Fall of 2021. All of this, of course, is dependent upon situations beyond our control, the government and the chancery.
Even though we are not able at this time to open Social Services Ministries, we continue to assist the poor and needy in our area. We are currently hosting a Turkey Drive for Thanksgiving. We will have Gift Giving Sunday as in years past. We continue to aid those in need through our financial support of our collaborators (Catholic Charities, Memorial Assistance Ministries) and the poor parishes that so much need our help. Liturgically, we will increase the number of weekday masses during Advent and we will offer additional masses on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in the Activity Center to accommodate social distancing. During Advent, we will again offer confessions before all of the weekday masses.
Financially, we continue on our emergency budget. We have borrowed some from our savings but overall we continue to hold our own. Cancelling the bazaar, falling behind in DSF and the decrease in Sunday collections has had a real impact on us, but we continue to fulfill our mission. At the onset of this crisis, I had several goals for our parish. On the spiritual side, I wanted us to stay strong in our faith and close to the Lord. I wanted our parish to provide sacraments and pastoral care to the most number of people possible. I also wanted to maintain contact and keep our parishioners connected to the parish especially those who cannot be physically present on campus. On the administrative side, I wanted to keep all of our full time employees on the job receiving their full salary and bring back our part time and seasonal employees as soon as possible. I deeply desire that those who depend upon our parish financially not be further hurt by us not being able to assist them during this time. We have had to make some adjustments and learn to do things differently. We have not been able to do everything that we wanted, but we are still working at it every day.
Are things perfect? Hardly! Have we made mistakes along the way? Certainly. Are we finished? Not yet. Are we giving up? Absolutely not! We will continue with God’s grace and your continued prayers and support to do what we always strive to do, be a vibrant parish of Living Faith, Changing Lives and Making a Difference!
In pace Christi,