Pastoral Council Meeting Minutes (via Zoom)– June 30, 2020
Attending: Fr. Tom, Matt Duclos, Paula Hayes (Chair), Deacon David Powers, Carol Brownell, Bill Casey, Shelly Englert, Genevieve Ireton, Theresa La Point, Judy Lebel, Tim McNulty and Melissa Wilkinson. The meeting opened with a prayer.
Pastor’s Report: Our church reopened for public Mass last weekend with 180 people attending the 3 scheduled Masses. The new Mass schedule is in effect: 4:00 PM on Saturday evening, and 8:30 and 11:15 AM on Sundays. There will be one weekday Mass scheduled each week on Wednesdays at 12:10 PM. Father thanked the “Reopening Committee” for their hard work preparing for the church’s reopening, in particular, Tim McNulty (Chief Pandemic Officer) who organized and led the group. He thanked the many volunteers who assisted this last weekend insuring that all safety protocols were followed. (More volunteers are still needed.) The First Holy Communion Masses have been on hold during the pandemic but are now scheduled for 3 consecutive Saturdays in July (11th, 18th and 25th at 11:00 AM). Current safety protocols will be followed. All 3 Masses will be livestreamed. Father thanked the volunteers of the Food Pantry for continuing to provide food for the needy during the quarantine. He thanked the many donors who contributed food. Father reported that SMSA school did a wonderful job with 8th grade graduation a few weeks ago: individual tents were set up on the church parking lot at a safe distance from each other for each graduate and his/her family. Observing all safety protocols, each graduate received their diploma personally. Father expressed gratitude to the principal, assistants and especially the teachers for hard work in a difficult year. Father reported that a new concrete pad is being poured in the rectory backyard because of a long-standing problem with water entering the basement. He is also waiting for bids and proposals for the replacement of the front steps of the church from 3 contractors. Father asked if there are projects for the needy in the community at this time that we should be involved in. Judy Lebel mentioned that the Schoolapalooza will be held this year in August; it solicits help for back-to-school items. Father also reminded the group that we need a Chairperson for our Ecumenical Committee so that we build regular and good relations with local non-Catholic communities.
Cemetery Committee (Bill Casey): At their committee meeting, the members reviewed several issues regarding the dimensions of lots in St. Mary’s cemetery, Section V-2, including the proper placement of headstones (all should face the main road) and the appropriate size of headstones. The problem trees have not yet been removed from St. Mary’s Cemetery but we’ve been promised that the work should be done soon. Several graves still need topsoil placed on them to level them with their surroundings. The Committee wants to thank and honor Joe Sullivan who has been a member of the Committee for many years. He has recently retired from the Committee. A formal thank-you will be placed in the bulletin and a gift sent to him in gratitude. A new stone marker has been donated by Mary Anne Flanders in memory of Joe Kelleher which will be placed in front of the large granite crucifix in St. Alphonsus Cemetery. The Committee made plans to plant decorative groundcovers around the crucifix which lies on a mound to enhance its placement. A new bathroom was installed in the Custodial Building in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Pastoral Care (Carol Brownell): Carol asked whether pastoral care to shut-ins can continue at this time. Father read the latest guidance from the Diocese which was issued yesterday and sent to all pastors: “Pastoral visits, for example with Holy Communion, to people in care/nursing homes or hospitals are permitted by clergy or designated ministers. These visits should follow the current protocols and advice of the care-home or hospital (this may involve ministers being tested for the coronavirus or antibodies). Again, strict protocols of hygiene/sanitizing, face masks etc. before and during and after visits must be observed. Additionally, pastoral visits, for example with Holy Communion, by clergy or designated ministers to shut-ins are also now permitted. However, it may be that many shut-ins, who obviously almost always are in the vulnerable category, would prefer NOT to have visits at this time. A discussion between the pastor and the parish pastoral care coordinator and the person potentially to be visited should take place BEFORE any visit.” Carol suggested that she and her Committee members would call the shut-ins on their lists to, at least, see how they are doing.
Bereavement Committee (Theresa La Point): One funeral took place last week and current safety guidelines were observed by the ministers. All in the congregation wore masks except one. The wearing of masks will be stressed at the next funeral Mass and some masks will be made available for those who do not bring them to Mass. Recent guidelines from the diocese state: “A public Funeral Mass may be celebrated, provided that ALL governmental/health directives, liturgical guidelines and the parish plan are followed. There are some elements particular Mass: the usual entrance rites and other rites (Final Commendation, sprinkling with holy water, incensing, etc.) should be observed but the optional placing of the pall should be omitted. Pall bearers may accompany the casket into the church and as the casket is taken from the church.”
Financial Report (Theresa La Point, Trustee): Last weekend’s collection summary: $1651 offertory, $1593 envelopes, $2030 mail-in contributions, $71 candle money, $75 contributions for building improvements, $150 in contributions to our Special Collection Appeal in Time of Pandemic. So far, 207 parishioners contributed to this special appeal bringing the total to $35,692.00. The e-giving total is not yet included. We encourage parishioners to sign up for e-giving.
Communications Committee (Melissa Wilkinson): Our new parish website, which was inaugurated last month, now includes a CHAT feature where people can connect with other parishioners, ask questions or post messages. Parishioners can also send messages through FACEBOOK and at email@example.com. Melissa and the committee are proposing that the parish establish a new part-time staff position called “Social Media Manager” so that all messages can be addressed in a timely manner. They ask that this be done by September 1. (Father will be speaking with the Finance Committee to see if this can be accomplished within our current budget). The Committee is exploring setting up Google-Classrooms for fall for Faith Formation so that catechists can begin teaching their classes from home if necessary. They are doing this now to be ready for the school year. They have been working with Maria Polidore and Leona Stone on this. Melissa suggests that we set up a “Rebuilt Committee” to discuss the suggestions in the popular book on future parish planning called “Rebuilt”. No more than 8 members. Father suggested she speak with Joe Hooker about the matter since he has already put together a group with this purpose. She said that consensus about a successful future in Catholic parishes stress the need to form small groups for connection and support. This Committee has begun many new innovations for the parish over the last few months: setting up permanent livestream equipment in the church (working with Matt Duclos), easier ability for e-giving, a new website with many more interactive options, etc.
Technology Committee (Judy Lebel): Judy has volunteered to take over the management of our livestreaming ministry and she said we now have a “top of the line” livestreaming system in our parish. She and her volunteers are making improvements to the system all the time. It was suggested that the words of the Gloria and the Creed be added to the screen as it is broadcast and most thought that it remains a good idea to leave on the words of the hymns so that people might sing at home. There has been a ton of work behind the scenes to get us to where we are. It was noted that the Diocese of Albany has asked all parishes to continue livestreaming Masses even when the pandemic is over so that shut-ins can have access to the parish Mass.
Deacon Dave: Dave reported that there is a need to organize the new schedule for our parish sacristans.
Fellowship Committee (Shelly Englert): Shelly is ready to begin planning for the annual Rummage Sale. It was suggested that it be held in August this year. It must observe all safety protocols and people must wear masks. As soon as the date is determined, an organizing meeting should be held with volunteers. Genevieve Ireton volunteered to help. Father hopes that Andy Lemery will also assist. Father suggested that we see if we can get a few food trucks to commit to coming to the events so that people have food available to them while shopping. We won’t begin to collect donations until August 1.
Social Justice (Genevieve Ireton): Genevieve said she would Chair this committee and will meet with Father to discuss a clear mission statement and setting-up a Social Justice Committee in the parish.
Reopening Committee/Knights of Columbus (Tim McNulty): Tim said that he was happy with the number of volunteers who came forward to serve on the committee and to assist at Masses for reopening. He said volunteers are still needed for the foreseeable months ahead. He suggested that the work of the Reopening Committee eventually be given over to the Ushers of the parish. Currently, there is a need for many more ushers and an appeal will be made for volunteers soon. In terms of the K or C, Tim said that the group is currently meeting regularly in office space provided by the law firm next to the Rectory. The group is also planning to work at the Seminarian Drop-In which will take place in the rectory yard in a few weeks. This Drop-In is a tradition for priests and seminarians to gather in the parish where a seminarian is stationed for the summer (Matt Duclos).
Matt Duclos, Seminarian: Matt will be ordained a transitional deacon in our Cathedral on September 5. He will probably serve as deacon of the Mass for the first time here in our parish at the Saturday Vigil Mass on that day. Specifics will follow. Father thanked Matt for the great work he is doing for the parish for us this summer.
No reports at this meeting for Faith Formation, Youth Ministry and Liturgy-Music Program and Re-Charge Committee.
The meeting ended with a prayer. The next meeting will be Thursday, August 11th at 7:00 PM.