Two weekends ago, 236 people attended Mass here in our parish. I must admit that it was gratifying to see so many in the pews. It almost seemed like “the old days” – the time before the pandemic. It was particularly uplifting for me because I realize that those in attendance really wanted to be there, since as you know, there is no obligation to attend Mass right now. I also know that many parishioners who stay at home also want to be there for weekend Masses with us. They remain at home for good reasons – frailty, age, compromised health or sheer fear of contracting the virus. These are legitimate reasons for staying home and I hope no one who is doing so at this time feels pressured into joining us for Mass on Sundays. When you’re ready, able and feel safe enough…we’re here. All I ask you to consider is to continue to nourish your faith during this hiatus while at home. Watch our livestream Mass on Facebook or on our parish website. Keep up your prayers and devotions. This is a good time to read the Gospels, the epistles and papal encyclicals and documents. It’s a good time to take up a good spiritual book or read the life of a saint. Go to our parish’s FORMED site which includes faith lessons, videos on various religious topics and entertainment options. Keep abreast of what’s going on here at St. Mary’s by checking out my blog or the parish website. Keep yourself well-nourished with regard to your faith during this time of social distancing from Mass. Without some input, without a plan and some determination, it’s easy to drift away.
I’m very grateful to our parish’s Reopening Team for making it possible for us to gather in safety at this time. Team members sign in every person at the door who attends any service or Mass for tracing purposes. Others guide parishioners to pews so that everyone is sitting six-feet apart from one another. A member takes the temperature of each volunteer before Mass. Others assist attendees during Communion time – spraying the hands of those coming forward before they receive the Blessed Sacrament. A few members stay after each Mass to sanitize each pew. These faithful volunteers deserve our gratitude and I thank them all on your behalf. Right now, the team is looking for additional volunteers to help them form a more permanent group who will fulfill these duties throughout the months ahead. They want to work out a schedule week-by-week so that no one person has an ongoing commitment for too long. Might you consider assisting them? Our Chief Pandemic Officer, parishioner Tim McNulty, is the contact-person. Please leave your name and number with the parish office and we’ll see to it that you are contacted, oriented and put on a schedule.
We are far from this virus’ demise. Vigilance is as important as ever, even though New York State has achieved a wonderful reprieve from the illness. Please stay safe at all times. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. Stay at home. And consider helping us make our gatherings here in St. Mary’s safe for all.