• stmaryschurch

A Message from Fr. Tom During This Pandemic



Updated: 3 days ago

Happy Mother’s Day On behalf of all of us on the staff we want to wish all the mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and stepmothers a happy Mother’s Day. As we begin the month of May, which honors the mother of Christ, we ask Mary to watch over you as you care for your family and children. Pastoral Council Meeting (on ZOOM) - April 30, 2020 Attendees: Father Tom, Matthew Duclos, Theresa LaPoint, Paula Hayes, Bill Coyle, Melissa Wilkinson, Cathy Vesterby, Maureen Hooker, Shelley Englert, Carol Brownell, Bill Casey and John O’Brien. The meeting began with a Prayer. 1. Father Tom’s report: a) Our livestream Masses continue and are broadcast on Facebook at 11:15 AM every Sunday. They began with Palm Sunday, continued with Holy Week services except for the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. We are also broadcasting “Fireside Chats” for the parish and children. I also now have a blog which parishioners can access for parish updates and articles written by me: https://stmarysglensfalls.wixsite.com/truevineblog. (Thanks to Melissa Wilkinson) Father said that the Diocese has been guiding the overall protocol of parishes during the pandemic and their help has been critical during these ever-changing times. b) Finances remain a concern since we are not receiving the usual collection during this time of quarantine. However, before Easter, in a parish mailing, we asked people to donate to a special collection so we could remain current on bills. So far, we have received about $32K which is a wonderful testament to the goodness of our parishioners. This equates to about 5 weeks of regular collections. Another good development is the increase in the number of users of e-giving. It tripled from 30 users to 90. We were also able to have a Finance Committee meeting on Zoom last week. c) Staff: We have had to furlough some of the staff: Maria Polidore, Leona Stone and Jo Kazmarek (Faith Formation) and Bill Englert (custodian). Still working are Cathy DeSantis, Ann McCoy (bookkeeper) and Robin Mattes (secretary) and Sue Wright (Music Director). They come into the office on a rotation and do some work at home. d) Payroll Protection: We have applied for the Federal Loan program that is now available to small businesses and churches, to Adirondack Trust, and we were approved on Tuesday, April 28 for $46k. John O’Brien said that the payroll amount pre-Covid must be maintained throughout. e) The building proposal that was submitted to the Diocese Architecture and Building Commission a month before the pandemic began, i.e., to build a small annex on the side of church, and to start a feasibility study of St. Mary’s school with the idea of possible multi-purposing the building, is still pending. This should be reviewed at each Pastoral Council meeting in the future until we have heard back from the ABC. f) Father formally introduced seminarian Matt Duclos to the Council. Matt is scheduled to be ordained a deacon in Rome on October 1 but this is up-in-the-air because of the pandemic. Father is delighted to have him here (he knew Matt long before he began his studies). Matt is hard-at-work on updating our computer lists and systems. Regarding the financial commitment the parish has to him: we are responsible for housing and food. He gets no salary. The Knights of Columbus have been asked to offer some funding to him during his stay here. g) Vicariate update: Before the pandemic, the Vicariate was involved in formal discussions about future planning in our vicariate. Discussions were held about the shortage of priests available, sharing resources and the possibility of consolidation. Fr. Tom Babiuch has returned from his Australian sabbatical. Frs. Hohenstein and Liam are well. Father Manerowski has recently had eye surgery but is also doing well. h) Building and Grounds: The GRASSHOPPER Company has been employed to add shrubbery around the new statue of St. Mary (donated by the Herlihy Family) in front of the church. The installation of two new signs for the church for the school is being considered. i) School: Received a large loan from the government available during the pandemic. There is not yet any indication from the Diocese about when the school can be re-open. A virtual graduation ceremony is being considered as well as some virtual fund-raising events. Overall, the principal reports that the virtual learning is successful and has good participation. There was a suggestion made for a summer festival for the kids when we are able to gather again. j) Pastoral Visits by the clergy: Priests not allowed into hospitals and the Sacraments cannot be administered over the phone. Priests are currently permitted to go into people’s homes for Last Rites only but with precautions. Friendly pastoral visits are not permitted. Confessions are available by request, however, there has to be social distancing in the reconciliation room which makes it somewhat awkward. k) Mass Schedule changes: Before the pandemic began, it was announced that we would reduce the Sunday Masses from three to two: at 8:30 AM and 11:15 AM. on June 1. When we do re-open, we will begin the new schedule on the weekend of re-opening whether it is June 1 or not. There was a discussion whether we should schedule the first Mass on Sunday at 8:00 AM and not 8:30 AM so that the current 7:30 Mass goers would not be inconvenienced. However, because of the Faith Formation schedule, 8:30 AM fits their need. Good communication will be needed when we re-open and also to make known the new schedule at that time. Cemetery Committee: Bill Casey, Chair, on the phone: Our two parish cemeteries are open, burials taking place. Diseased trees in St. Alphonsus Cemetery have been taken down (cost: $9,000) and the diseased trees in St. Mary’s Cemetery will be taken down as soon as non-essential businesses can begin work again. Money for tree removal is from the St. Alphonsus fund, held by the Diocese. Pastoral Care: Carol Brownell, Chair, on the phone: The Committee is keeping in touch with people the homebound on their visitation list by phone. Melissa arranged for the youth to make rainbows to send to shut-ins; 14 were sent out and they were well-received. 30 people are currently on their list. Bereavement Committee: Theresa LaPoint reported that since there are no public funerals allowed at this time, the Committee is waiting until they resume to undertake their ministry. Buildings & Grounds: Joe Sullivan, Chair, not present. Communications Committee: Melissa Wilkinson, Chair. The Committee has been working hard in spite of the pandemic. They are nearly finished with their “Rebranding Project” which involves creating a new parish website and a new logo. The website should be ready in May. PayPal has been integrated into this new website so that people can pay for Faith Formation tuition or buy tickets to parish events. It can also enable parishioners to sign up for various parish ministries. Paula asked a question about people who don’t have access to a computer or are uncomfortable using the internet, will current options to come in person to the rectory for payment still be available? The answer: yes. The new logo contains an icon of our parish church and the foothills of the Adirondacks in the background. Matt and Melissa spoke about the new computer service called FLOCKNOTE which was recently installed in the parish. Flocknote is a Catholic computer system which enables the pastor to communicate with his parishioners directly through their emails. Work is in progress to get the email addresses of all parishioners. GOOGLE SUITE, a free service to parishes, is also being installed. Regarding our parish Facebook page: many more people have used it since the pandemic began. April 18, 2018 had 200 followers, now 1,021. Biggest day of growth was Palm Sunday with the first livestream Mass. New people each day. Good feedback from livestream Masses, videos, blog posts, and daily Mass readings. No paid advertising yet. We’re hoping to reach people who are “church shopping” at this time. A suggestion was made to stream a May crowning, or 15-20 minute Bible stories each week, stream the Bells of St. Mary’s playing on our church bells, etc. Evangelization Committee: Joe Hooker, Chair The Committee has not been able to meet because of the pandemic but will plan for one soon. Greeters arranged for Masses except for 4:00pm Mass, trying to get people for an information booth and happy to hear that the website will be a central place for information. Fellowship Committee: Shelley Englert The last parish event was St. Patrick’s Day and it was very successful. Thanks go to the volunteers and the Knights of Columbus. The annual Festival will be cancelled but raffle will not (drawing on Labor Day?). The Rummage Sale will be scheduled for the end of July or early August. A suggestion was made that a good time to schedule a parish event and/or fundraiser would be the weekend of the Balloon Festival in mid-September. Music and Liturgy: Sue Wright should be included in our Pastoral Council meetings. Paula will be in contact with her. Positive feedback about the beautiful music for the livestream Masses and Holy Week services. Pro-Life Committee: John O’Brien on the phone. 40 Days for Life got cancelled before the conclusion of the event. A couple in the parish has asked to be on the Committee and John will be in contact with them to follow-up. Spiritual Life Committee: Cathy Vesterby Good turnout for Lenten “Walk through the Passion” - 26 people. Working on Humanae Vitae program. “Walking With Purpose” to be merged with Spiritual Life Committee. Christian Outreach & Social Justice: A Chairperson is needed for this Committee. Ecumenical Committee: Judy Lebel – no report. Open Forum Janet and Bill Coyle: enjoying Mass on Sunday livestream. Cathy Vesterby said that the blog post about Sister Donna Irvine at the hospital was very touching. Matt: Maria Polidore is continuing work and prayer with youth on Zoom from her home. Melissa Wilkinson: Suggested the Council reads an article she came across about what churches should consider before reopening: communication, safety concerns, distribution of Holy Communion. A sub-Committee should be set up to coordinate the reopening and reassure people of the plan. Father is looking into purchasing a disinfecting machine to use in both the church and school. Father said that Genevieve Ireton, a parishioner, has expressed interest about serving on the Council. Paula will contact her to facilitate her joining us. Father asked for prayer for one of our parishioners who has been diagnosed with the virus and on and off the ventilator in Glens Falls Hospital. Next Meeting (on ZOOM or in-person): Tuesday, May 26, 6:30pm. An earlier meeting can be arranged if we get direction to open the church before the next scheduled meeting. The meeting ended with a prayer including a petition for the end of the pandemic and for the victims and healthcare workers who are tending to them. Minutes submitted by Matthew Duclos, May 1, 2020 When we reopen We have no word at the present time as to when we’ll be allowed to celebrate public Masses again in our church. We’ll keep you updated about our reopening date. When we do reopen we will begin our new Mass schedule that we planned: Saturday evening vigil Mass 4:00 PM Sunday 8:30 AM and 11:15 AM (Faith Formation classes 10:00 AM—11:00 AM) Weekdays: Monday no Mass Tuesdays: 12:10 PM Mass Wednesdays: 12:10 PM Mass Thursdays: 12:10 PM Mass Fridays: no Mass until school resumes

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