Congratulations to our 11th graders who made their Confirmation this week. I have to say it’s a bit of a different experience to have Confirmation here rather than at the Cathedral, but I think as a whole, it was a good experience. Now, I’d invite you to continue to pray for them. Now, especially, is a difficult time for our young people who look out at the world and aren’t sure where things are going to go in the future. Now that they’ve been strengthened by the Holy Spirit, I do hope they will continue to practice their faith and get involved here at our parish as they head into their senior year of high school.
Also this year, our Director of Religious Education, Dee Zernick, has announced her retirement. Dee has served our parish faithfully for many years, first along with her husband and now on her own. We thank her for her many years of service, and wish her the best in her retirement and future endeavors.
Now that we’re in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and I can see our numbers for the year, I really want to say thank you to everyone for your support of your parish in 2019-2020. Considering we had a change in pastor through a bit of a tumultuous transition and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, we did very well. I’m working along with our Finance Council toward getting all of the numbers in order so that we can soon have a full financial report and budget to present to the parish. As a whole, we did reasonably well, but since we began the year with a lot of uncertainty, there were a few expenses that were deferred, so they’re going to hit in this budget year, including getting the air conditioning fixed on the tabernacle side of the Church. I hope to have that all ready to present in the next few weeks.
With Mrs Zernick’s retirement, on Monday we’ll be posting for two positions, first, a new DRE (Director of Religious Education) to take over the Religious Ed program. Because of the time it takes to hire, in the next week or two, I’ll be putting out an online survey about our Religious Education program in the past and some potential directions we could take for the fall. That way, once our new DRE is hired, they’ll be better able to hit the ground running for the fall.
The second position is something we’ve needed for quite a while, a maintenance person to manage all the routine maintenance of our facility, and fix-it stuff that needs to happen around the Church. I’ve known we needed a maintenance person for a long time now, but I had to wait until now to see what we could afford.
Both positions will be for around 20 hours a week. If you happen to know someone who might be interested in either position, please encourage them to check out the full job description and posting. It will be on our website and the Diocesan website on Monday. Please also pray that we get some good, solid, qualified applicants.
In the meantime, thank you again to everyone who has already stepped up as a Eucharistic Minister to visit those unable to come to mass. It’s a wonderful grace to be able to bring Jesus to someone. We’re almost half-way to where we need to be. If you’re a confirmed Catholic and would like to help bring Jesus to someone, please give me a call!
God Bless, -Fr Matt
Happy Independence Day! It’s wonderful to celebrate our Independence day this year! I’d also like to congratulate our First Communion kids on making their first communion last Saturday Morning! This week coming, we’ll be celebrating Confirmation here at our parish with our 11th grade students. Every year, we celebrate the Fourth of July, First Communion, and Confirmation. Yet, I don’t think we’ve ever celebrated any of them quite like this. I’m very proud of our First Communion and of our Confirmation young people and their families. This hasn’t been the easiest year for them. Yet, here we are and we’re celebrating these things together. It’s good to celebrate and make the Eucharist the center of our faith. It’s good to see our young people confirmed in the Holy Spirit. It’s good to see people back in Church.
I don’t want to say too much this week, as because of the 4th of July holiday, our publishing deadline was way back on Friday, June 26th, and the way our world is going, so many things I would like say will probably be out of date by the time you read this.
Yet, I think it’s important to remember the Gospel. That’s one thing that will never change. I think we’ve all run through the series on being upset, frustrated, helpless, overwhelmed, and everything else this year. So it’s important that we hear Jesus’s words.
“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
As long as we think we’re in control, we’re going to be constantly frustrated. When we stop, and realize we need to put ourselves in our Lord’s hands, do his work, prepare as best we can, and act with all the skill he gave us...when we’ve done that, we can rest, knowing that we don’t have to carry these burdens by ourselves. The creator of everything loves us, and will help take the weight off of our shoulders if we’re willing to put our pride aside and let him show us how.
Goodness, it’s been a busy week! As things are starting to function again, things here at the Church have been hopping this week. Everyone seems to have figured out that the office is open again and we’re back to work. That’s a good thing. Of course, we are still dealing with sanitizing surfaces, masks, and the like, but it is good to see things begin to pick up again.
I’d ask you to keep in your prayers those families who celebrated funerals this week, the families of Mary Pawlikowski and Josh Stauffer. I’m grateful to Father Ron Osinski, who happens to be pastor of my home parish, and Msgr. Carson for joining us to celebrate the Pawlikowski funeral.
It’s also good to see everyone returning to mass. As we said last week, I know the masks can be a bit bothersome at times, but it’s good to protect our neighbors, and the reality is, receiving Jesus is worth it!
Thank you to everyone who called to volunteer as a Eucharistic Minister this week. I had a few people volunteer and I’ve already trained a couple who are beginning to visit the sick. I couldn’t be happier that our shut-ins are finally able to receive the Eucharist again!
Overall, I want to thank everyone for their patience through this process. Many folks are scared and aren’t quite ready to come back to mass. Others have told me how they appreciate the fact that most of our folks are masked and they feel a bit safer coming to mass. Still others have expressed concerns that it’s hard for them to wear a mask. Please know, as long as almost all of us are wearing masks almost all of the time, if you need to pull it down to breathe a bit, it’s quite OK. We all understand. The key is that we’re doing the best we can to protect each other. As much as we want to get back to normal, none of us want to see members of our parish get sick from this.
Meanwhile, aside from all the COVID-related stuff going on, this week is always a busy week for every Church every year because this week is the end of the Fiscal Year. Mike Klapak and I have been working very hard all year to re-orient our finances in a way that we can present clearly where we are as a parish. So far, at least, I’m absolutely thrilled to say that thanks to your generosity, it doesn’t appear that the virus in particular has hurt us too much financially. As we wrap up the end-of-year bills and finances, I’m looking forward to a day before too long when I can really make an honest financial report of our status as a parish to all of you. My goal is to try to be as transparent as possible, without making the information too confusing.
I’ll be honest, when I arrived, a lot of the way our finances had been structured was very confusing, at least to me. I’m pleased to say that after a lot of work, I hope this year we’ll have a much cleaner presentation. It’s going to take us a while to get all the data ready, but I hope this year to be able to explain a lot about where the money really goes. So much of it, I think can be described as “boring, but necessary.” Yet, as your priest, I want to do what I can to give you an honest assessment of where we really are. It’s my hope that by doing that, we can together set priorities for the future, get the things fixed that need fixed, and make real plans for the long-term future of our Church. I’m hopeful that with a real, honest picture, we’ll be able to use our resources to work toward better fulfilling the mission of our Church, sharing the good news, administering the Sacraments, and leading the people of Northern Cambria to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
God Bless You, -Fr Matt
It was certainly good to be back for our first weekend in Church! I know there were a couple of little snags, but overall, I think things went really well. I was very pleased to see nearly everyone wearing masks, working through the new communion process, and in general just being excited to be back and patient with the new procedures.
As for myself, we learned a lot this past weekend of what does and doesn’t work. The one major change we’re going to make at the weekend masses in the short term will be what I’m going to call “family pews.” A couple of families were very squished with our current arrangement. This week we’ll have 3 pews on each side that won’t have tape on them. We’d ask that those pews are reserved for families of 4 or more people. That way those families can fit everyone in a pew, while we try to maximize our available space.
I’m hoping that each week our numbers will go up a little bit until we start to approach the attendance we had before this all started. Once we start to reach capacity for a weekend mass, the following week, I’ll add additional masses. We have some time on both Saturday Evening and Sunday Evening for additional masses. As that happens, please work together to try to spread yourselves out as best you’re able. I don’t want to have to do a formal registration process for mass and if we all continue to be considerate of each other, I won’t have to.
We will be making one other change this week. While we had the church open most days with a cleaning schedule up until now, I’ve been watching who’s coming and when. Now that daily mass is back, most people come in the morning, so I’m going to be reducing the hours that the Church is open during the day. The Church will continue to be open to private prayer Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9am-8pm. This works well for an easy cleaning schedule as folks are available to help after the Tuesday evening mass, and Thursday morning after mass when the regular crew cleans the Church. That means we can now do away with the sign-up sheets. If you’d like to help, no need to sign up, just stop by at either of those times.
We’re also getting our sacraments of initiation back on track. Although they will be by invitation only, our First Communion mass and our Confirmation masses have been scheduled.
Congratulations also to the graduates of NCCS, who had their graduation mass this past Wednesday. Although we don’t have any graduates from our parish this year, we congratulate them all the same.
Now that we’re back and getting things organized, I am looking for any confirmed Catholics who would be willing to take communion to the homebound. With the current COVID concerns, it will be much better for now to have a single layperson visit 3-4 people, rather than having myself visit all 90+ homebound parishioners. If you are a confirmed Catholic and have a family member who is homebound that you’d like to bring communion to, or if you would be open to bringing communion to someone from our parish, give me a call at the office and we’ll get you set up. Many of them live relatively close. Right now we all know what it’s like to be without receiving Jesus for a while, please help me get Jesus to our homebound parishioners.
Welcome Back! It’s so good to know that everyone will be back in church this weekend. I know it’s still not completely “back to normal”, but I’m so excited to be able to have people back in church and get back to something that resembles normal!
Moving forward, there will be a few things that are different. I know they may take a little getting used to, but whatever it takes, it’s good to be back. As we’re supposed to avoid common areas that everyone is touching, we have removed the hymnals and we’ll be placing the bulletins and a song-sheet on each of the pews. We have every other pew blocked off into spaces, so we’re asking that only one household sit per space.
We will not take up the gifts, and instead of our normal offertory process, there will be a secure bin at the entrance to the Church/Chapel for the envelopes. Please place your envelopes there on your way in/out.
Everyone over the age of 12 is encouraged to wear a mask unless you have a medical reason that prevents you. Remember, the mask is not just for you, but to make sure someone who didn’t even know they had it doesn’t spread it.
However, aside from those few changes, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get everyone into Church this weekend, and we can celebrate the sacraments together again. I also want to congratulate Chase Valeria, son of Brad & Heather Valeria who was baptized this Saturday Morning! Congratulations Chase and welcome to our Church!
Now that we’re back, First Communion and Confirmation are being scheduled for our respective 2nd and 11th grade students. For this year only, confirmation will be held here at our parish. I know for some we’re anxious to be back in Church. For others, it feels like it’s too soon, and the risks seem very real. I hope we can all recognize that we’re all coming from different points of view, and work to be considerate of each other. For the foreseeable future, we will continue to stream the mass online. For instructions, just go to www.popnc.net. That’s been a real blessing up until now, and I’d like to maintain it for those who are unable to join us here in Church.
As much as I’d like to continue the confessions before mass that we had before, Bishop has asked not to use the confessionals as there isn’t much ventilation. I’ve been setting up in the front entranceway and it works very well all week long. However, it doesn’t work prior to Sunday Masses. With that in mind, we’ll continue our revised confession times. I haven’t gotten anyone in the evenings for a while, so watch for those times to possibly change in the near future.
I mentioned in last week’s bulletin that I’m going to start looking for Eucharistic Ministers to visit the sick. It’s looking like I’ll be returning to the prison soon, when I do return, I won’t be permitted to visit our shut-ins for communion for a while. If you’re a confirmed Catholic and would be interested in visiting the sick, particularly your own family who can’t get out, give us a call at the office and I can set up a time to train you to go. It’s a ministry we haven’t had here, but a good one I’d like to see happen.
God bless you now and always,
Welcome Home! After all these 11 weeks away from our Church, this weekend we start back. I know this weekend it will just be the distribution of Communion outside of mass, but still, we’re all back in Church! Next Sunday, we’ll be back to a regular mass schedule! It will be good to see everyone again. I just had someone at the door for a Baptismal Certificate and we were talking about how, “online church is nice to have, but it’s certainly not a replacement for real church.” I couldn’t agree more and that’s a great way of putting it. It’s good to keep in touch in an imperfect way, but we’re all anxious to get back to receiving Jesus.
I want to thank everyone for their patience through this process. I’ve been trying to do the best I can to keep in touch through this, and you have all been wonderful. I can’t thank you enough for all the positive comments and for keeping the faith through this process. I also want to thank everyone for continuing to support your Church through this. We’ve done pretty well up through May 17th or so. We did drop off a bit the last 2 weeks, but I’m hoping that’s just because people are getting to come back and it’ll all even out in the wash.
It was wonderful to hear from some of our Altar Servers’ families and our Lector families as we prepare to get the schedules out to everyone and get those ministries up and running again. Everyone seems so excited to begin again. I hope this forced time away really helps all of us to dive in, take ownership of our faith and our parish, and really work together to build a church that we’re all proud of.
I did have a few people ask me about Eucharistic Ministers. As you’ll see this weekend, because of the layout in the Church, we’re going to be doing a single-file line for communion and we won’t be resuming the cup for the foreseeable future. That means that Eucharistic Ministers at mass aren’t really going to be an option for a while. On the other hand, before this began, we had a large number of shut-ins at our parish. Now, we have even more folks who aren’t able to go out. As we get rolling again, I’d like to invite any confirmed Catholics who are willing to consider becoming a Eucharistic Minister who can visit the sick. Once we’re back to church and I have a chance to announce it to everyone in person as well, I’d like to start training laypeople to be able to bring communion to those who can’t go out, making sure they are getting the sacraments. If you’re a confirmed, practicing Catholic and if you have a family member who can’t get out much anymore, I’d invite you to consider becoming a Eucharistic Minister to bring them communion. Perhaps you might also consider bringing it to one or two other people. If we could get a nice group together, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get the Eucharist to our 90+ shut-ins on at least a monthly basis, or maybe even more often. I’d love to see it happen, but I need your help. Please think about it and I’ll share more once we’re back in Church.
I’d like to say something about the recent events going on in our world, but to be honest, I’m still trying to listen. I find that if we don’t have something helpful to say, it’s good to listen and try to understand. So much of the chaos in our world comes from not listening. I’d invite all of us to try to do our best to listen, especially to those who seem different from us. Sometimes we have more in common than we realize.
Just to avoid confusion, I’d like to post again the schedule for this weekend. For this weekend, please watch mass online, then stop down to the Church after to receive communion. If you’re older than 12, please wear a mask until it’s your turn unless you have a medical issue that you can’t wear a mask. If you do have a medical issue, feel free to come, but use your best judgment. Please enter by the front steps of the Church, come down the center aisle as we normally would, and exit via the handicap exit. If you are handicapped, please feel free to come in via the handicap door and have a seat. I’ll be sanitizing my hands after every few people. If you’re receiving on the tongue, you’re welcome to receive that way, but just to be courteous, please stay toward the back of the line.
This Weekend: June 6th & 7th:
Saturday Vigil Mass
4:00pm Mass: (Livestreamed Only) NEW TIME!
5:30pm-6pm: Public Communion in the Church
9:00am: Public Communion (Holy Cross Chapel)
11:00am: Mass (Livestreamed only)
12:30pm: Public Communion in the Church
Next Weekend: June 13th & 14th:
Saturday Vigil Mass
4:00pm Public Mass in the Church, also Livestreamed
8:00am: Public Mass in Holy Cross Chapel
11:00am: Public Mass in the Church, also Livestreamed
Fridays 7:00am-7:45am beginning Friday, June 19th
Confessions (Inside Church Front Door)
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: After Mass until 9:30AM
Tuesday & Wednesday: 7:30pm-8pm
Looking forward to seeing you in Church!
May God Bless You Now and Always!
UPDATED! WE GOT NEW DIRECTIVES AS OF 5/29/2020 - Please note the Changes Below
We had taken a lot of time planning a whole process for public communion and for getting people back to mass. However, late Friday afternoon we got an update that in all parishes as of June 13th we are now permitted to observe the "6 foot rule" for occupancy. That means that we can basically resume our normal weekend schedule that weekend!
I had recorded a whole video explaining our process for public communion, for mass with 25 people, but as of this morning, all of that has just gone out the window since we'll be able to return to our normal mass schedule.
Step 2: Public Communion (for the weekend of June 6-7)
Everyone is invited to watch mass on Stream/TV then come to the Church for communion.
Step 3: Public Mass With Social Distancing (beginning June 13-14)
For Weekend Masses:
New Mass Schedule beginning June 13th:
Seating at Mass:
Let us celebrate that we are returning to the sacraments!
God Bless, -Fr Matt
I have to say, it’s good to be open, and although I can’t see your smiling faces through the masks, it’s good to see so many of you taking advantage of the fact that the Church is open. I’ve been pleased to see that so many of you have stopped by the Church for a visit. It’s a wonderful thing to have all of you back in the Church. After almost two months of this, things are slowly beginning to move again.
Before I get too far, I did want to stop for just a moment to thank all of you who organized and participated in the little drive-by last Saturday. I was very surprised, and I really do appreciate all of your support. We’re all in this together, and I’m happy to be your priest. It was very good to get a chance to see so many of you who I haven’t seen in the couple months.
In last week’s message, I had all sorts of information about what the Church reopening would look like. I have to say thank you, everything has been going pretty smoothly. Folks are signing up to clean each evening, and I’m seeing a calm, but steady flow of people through the Church. It’s so good to have our Church open again and for people to be able to visit Jesus. I did want to answer one question that came up a couple of times last week. If multiple people who live in the same house come to church together, they are welcome to sit together in the same pew. However, If you live in a different household from someone else, please sit in a different pew.
Now by this time many of you have probably heard the latest news from our Bishop. He’s released dates for us to move forward into the next phases of his reopening plan. Beginning June 1st, our bishop is authorizing the distribution of Holy Communion. Then, beginning the following weekend, June 13-14, we will resume “public mass” for up to 25 people. I was talking to someone this week who said to me, “That’s confusing! What are we actually doing?”. To put it simply, we are only permitted to have 25 people in the Church building at a time, so our Bishop is envisioning a small group attending the mass in person, while everyone else is watching mass on TV or via livestream. Then, for those of you who join us virtually, there will be a scheduled time after the mass for you to come to the church to receive communion. It’s certainly not going to be what we’re used to, but it is taking some very real steps toward getting everyone back to the sacraments. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail in this week’s message, because I’m going to be discussing all of this with our neighboring pastors this coming Monday. We’d like to make sure our approach is similar among all the local parishes, so that it’s easier for us to understand and put into practice.
One change that we did receive with the bishop’s new directives is that while we are resuming the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are not to use the physical confessional due to sanitization concerns. With that in mind, for this week, our times will remain the same, but I’m going to be changing our locations for confessions so that we can meet this Bishop’s directives. We will still have confessions Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday from 9am-9:30am (or as long as needed) in the Church. However, instead of using the confessional, we will use the entryway by the front door. The doors at the back of the Church will be labeled “face-to-face” and “anonymous” and stations will be set up much like we would do for a penance service. On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, we will have confession outside from 7:30pm-8pm (or as long as is needed). Outside confessions will now be just outside the handicap door by the small bench and garden. By moving them down to that area, they are accessible to those who cannot use the steps. If you see someone sitting for confession, please remain in your car until that person finishes. By next week, we hope to have a listing of all of the area confession times so that although we cannot do communal penance services right now, we can work to provide access to multiple confessors at multiple times in our area. As we’ve all been away from the sacrament for a while, I’d encourage all of you to take advantage of the sacrament, either here or at one of our neighboring parishes once we post the list next week.
It’s good to see progress happening. I know there are a lot of unknowns at this point. Yet, I would far rather share with you what I do know and have in mind, even if there are still some details to be figured out, than not tell you anything until the whole plan is together. Just remember, through all of this, what’s most important is continuing to build our relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer and the sacraments. That’s why we’re here.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a least a little bit of time to mention what it is that we celebrate this weekend. As Catholics, one of the things we do well is to honor the dead. We celebrate the feasts of Saints by the date of their death, or you might say, the date of their birth into eternal life. We pray for those who have gone before us. This Monday, we honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Those who died defending our nation. I was just up in our cemeteries this week checking on things as we prepare. While we’re not able to do a public gathering and memorial in our cemeteries for them this year, I hope to one day in the future. In the meantime, I am thankful to those who placed flags on the graves of our veterans. It is thanks to those who were willing to put their life on the line that we as Americans are able to enjoy the freedom that we have. So although we may not be able to have the family barbeques and picnics that we normally would, perhaps all of us can take a few moments of silent prayer to honor those who have gone before us.
Please know that all of you are always in my prayers. You’ll see me this weekend at mass, and I’ll look forward to seeing you when you stop for your time of private prayer, and hopefully when you stop by this week for the Sacrament of Reconciliation!
God Bless you now and always,
-Fr Matt Baum
In this Sundays’ first reading we hear that Philip went down to Samaria and proclaimed Christ….and there was great joy in the city! Well, today! I’m pleased to announce what we had hoped for last week has become a reality. Our Church is opening up again! Beginning this Monday, May 18th, Prince of Peace Catholic Church will again be open for private prayer. Although we’re not yet open for mass and liturgies, this is the first step that direction, and it’s a big one.
Now everything isn’t going to go immediately back to normal, but we are moving in steps toward normal, making sure that we’re both working to help everyone return to the sacraments and keep people safe in the process. As I go through these, I do want to reassure everyone that through all of these steps, our bishop has continued to dispense everyone from the Sunday Mass obligation, and we at Prince of Peace, will continue to stream all masses online. If you have serious health concerns, please feel free to stay home.
Starting Monday May 18th, we’ll be beginning Bishop’s “Yellow Phase-Step 1.” Our Church will be open for private prayer and confessions will be resuming. Now there will be some safety protocols that we’ll have to follow through this process, so I’d like to go through those with you today.
Yellow Phase - Step One - Monday May 18th
During the yellow phase step one, we are limited to no more than 25 people in the Church at a time, everyone is required to wear masks while they are in the Church, we all have to maintain a social distance of about 6 feet, and all of the contact areas have to be sanitized regularly. At the Bishop’s direction, we’ve removed all hymnals, prayer cards, and shared resources. You are welcome to bring those things with you to Church, but we ask that you do not leave them in the Church.
The Church will be open for private prayer Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9am until 7pm. We ask that everyone both enter and exit via the handicap entrance. When you enter church, there will be blue tape marking off each of the pews to make for 25 seats. You are welcome to sit in any of the marked off pews or to kneel in front of the votive candles, provided no one else is there. By marking these off, it’s both easier to see how many people are in church and easier for us to sanitize as we only have to sanitize where people have been sitting. People who live in the same household are welcome to sit next to each other in the pew, but those not living in the same house are each asked to take a separate space.
If you would happen to see all of the seats occupied, please wait outside of church until you see someone leave. If you are in church and all 25 seats are filled, please limit your visit to around 30 minutes out of respect for those waiting. When you arrive, there will be a number of sanitizing stations with a spray bottle, paper towel, hand sanitizer and a small trashcan on the windowsill. Before and after you sit, please spray and wipe off the pew where you will be sitting.
We are looking for volunteers to help us sanitize the church each evening that we are open. It’s not hard, and will only take a few minutes. If you would be willing to commit to spending about half an hour in Church each week and wiping things down as we close at 7pm, please call Sue at the office. We have the first week covered, and I’d like to continue to have the Church open at least 4 days a week, but continuing, or expanding that depends on how many people are willing to commit to helping us sanitize at the end of each day. We’re asking those of you who are willing to consider committing to one night each week. As I said, if you're willing, please call Sue at the office to sign up for a day.
Beginning Monday May 18th, we will also be resuming confessions. After some thought, we’ll be having confessions both in the morning and in the evening. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings, we will have confession in the regular confessional from 9am until 9:30am, or as long as is needed. I would ask that people line up next to the already marked pew spaces, so that we’re providing enough space between people. For those who would prefer not to be in the enclosed space, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, we will have confession outside on the rectory back porch at 7:30pm. In either case, we have a large plexiglass sneeze-guard, just like at the grocery store for the safety of both of us. Bishop has also asked us to develop a plan so that you can have a time with access to multiple priests, as we would have for our Lenten Penance Service. As those plans get worked out, I’ll share them with you.
Should you have a loved one pass away at this time, now that we have moved to yellow, we will close the Church for private prayer for the duration of the funeral. We will be able to have a normal funeral in Church, but attendance will be limited to 20 people, to leave room for the liturgical ministers and the funeral director’s staff.
Communion Calls and Anointing of the Sick
At this time, our bishop has authorized us to begin our communion call and shut-in visits. I am willing to begin some limited rounds, in light of the reality right now, I would simply ask that those who are homebound call and let us know if they would like visited. Many have expressed to me that while they would typically like to receive communion, they would rather we hold off for a while yet. I’ll be happy to honor those family’s wishes either way.
Looking forward for the next few weeks, I know that some of this will be a new experience for all of us, but I’m hopeful that we can work together smoothly through these new processes, so that we will be prepared to move quickly into Bishop’s Yellow Phase Step Two, which will include resuming public daily masses and a public distribution of holy communion. I would invite all of you to make sure to read Bishop’s letter this week. We’ve also posted it on both our website and our Facebook page. He details some of the other steps that will be coming once we’ve got this step running smoothly. He talks about how Sunday Masses might work in the near future as well as how first communion and confirmation may work.
I know some of these things are going to be a little inconvenient, and they're going to take some getting used to. Even so, I’m excited that we’re going to be able to start having people back to church and back to confession! I hope you’ll work together with me so that we can get our Church open and moving again!
God Bless You - Fr Matt
This week, I’d like to wish all Mothers and Mother figures a very Happy Mother’s Day! In some ways, I know it’s a bit of a let-down, not being able to gather with our families to celebrate it. Yet, at the same time, I do think it’s still important that we recognize our mothers today for the love they’ve shown to their children. God Bless all of you!
Now, I was talking to a couple mothers from our parish on the phone this week, and they all had the same question for me. “How long do you think it’s going to be until we can start to open things up again?” Well, I’m very excited to say that my answer has changed from “I really don’t know” to “hopefully soon.”
This week, we had a virtual meeting with our Bishop making plans on how we might be able to open the Churches. Now, I think we all realize that it’s not going to immediately just go back to normal, and there are going to be a number of steps to get back to something that resembles normal, but it’s exciting to be making those first steps. The first step isn’t going to happen immediately, and it’s not anything quite as exciting as starting back to Sunday mass, but we have been asked to get ready to open the Church to public prayer in the next week or so. Then, if all goes well, more might follow.
There are going to be some restrictions, we are all going to be wearing masks in Church for the foreseeable future, there’s going to be limits on how many people can be in the church at a time, we’re going to have to sit far apart from each other, and we’re going to have to get used to spraying and wiping down our own pews every time we come to Church. There are probably going to be some other accommodations that may take some getting used to.
Yet, when I look at these things, I think each of us have to decide for ourselves the basic attitude we’re going to take. Will I say, “This is ridiculous, I don’t know why we have to do all this nonsense?” or will I say “Whatever it takes, if it means I get to receive Jesus in the sacraments again, I want to work together and make that happen.” I have to say, so far, I’ve heard a lot more of the second one, and for that I’m very proud of all of you, and proud to be your priest.
I appreciate how all of you have been supporting your church up until now. I’m amazed every week when I open the mailbox and see our people mailing in their envelopes, which, by the way, if you haven’t heard, we just had a new mail-slot installed in the rectory front door, so from now on when you drop off your envelopes, please use the mail-slot on the front door, it makes things a lot more secure. Still, I look at the mail each week and our online offertory and I’m constantly amazed! Thank You! Then, after mass, when I look at our numbers, and I see us getting consistent numbers of around 110 families attending virtually every single day for daily mass, you’ve all been such a blessing through this. I’m hopeful that we’re beginning to figure out the next steps. I don’t have all the answers, I know I’m going to need your help, but I promise you we’ll walk through this together.
One of the critical things I am learning as we begin to open up is that we will need a lot more volunteers to help clean and sanitize the church. The ladies that have been cleaning the church in the past have been doing a wonderful job and they’re ready to do their part, but they’re going to need some help. From what I’m gathering, as we do open, we’re going to have to wipe things down with disinfectant after each day the church is open. When our county does move to yellow and we get clearance from the Bishop, how many days we can have the church open will depend on how many volunteers can commit to helping to scrub things down. So I’m really counting on you folks to help us make that happen.
Meanwhile, I’m also working on some of the recommended procedures for confessions, and as we begin to move into yellow, those will be resuming as well. When they do, at least at first, they’re probably going to be outside. At the Bishop’s recommendation, I’ve ordered some Plexiglas like they have at the grocery store, and we’re working on a setup that will be as functional as we can be, while remaining both safe and private.
Again, there might be some logistical challenges with everything that’s coming, but we’ll work through all of it together. I’m not perfect, and I don’t pretend to be. When I started streaming mass, there were all sorts of hiccups, yet, now it’s working reasonably well. This next phase is also going to be a learning experience for all of us. What we try at first may work or it may not, but together we’ll adapt and we’ll make sure most important thing of all, encountering Jesus Christ in his Church can really happen!
In the meantime, I also want to assure everyone that for those who have serious health concerns, the Sunday Obligation is going to remain dispensed and we plan on continuing the streaming masses for the foreseeable future. So while we are trying to get the church open, please don’t take unnecessary risks.
I have to say that I’m very excited at the prospect of things beginning to open up a little bit. I know it’s not going to be back to normal, but I really do look forward to seeing all of you, hearing your confessions, and eventually the day when we can start having people physically at mass, even if only in a limited way.
We’re all in this together, please keep me in your prayers as I keep you in mine! God Bless,
- Fr Matt
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.