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!
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.