My dear friends,
August has arrived and many of our parishioners are either on vacation or winding down their vacation. Sadly, we are still dealing with the pandemic which caused many of us to alter vacation plans and stay local. Last week I returned from a brief time in the Florida Keys as did our Carmelite Sisters who usually spend their summers in their mother house in Los Angeles. Many of us truly did believe when summer started that by now we would have gotten back to some sense of normalcy especially when it comes to parish life and ministries. Unfortunately because of the unexpected spikes in COVID numbers in late June and July, we are still in somewhat of a holding pattern. Not much has changed in terms of public parish life since we opened for Masses on May 26. All we can do is celebrate Mass and the sacraments in our church. We have done food drives for the poor and this month we will do a “Back to School” drive, but even those events are socially distant because our Homeless Ministry volunteers can only collect and deliver these items, they cannot feed the homeless or deliver school supplies in person to children as they have done in the past. Several Emmaus retreats, Marriage Covenant weekends, Vacation Bible School and other big ministerial events were cancelled, but we persevere as a parish. Thanks be to God that we can gather to celebrate the Eucharist every single day. Babies are still being baptized, couples are still getting married, and thankfully we did all if not most of our First Communions in June, our catechumens were welcomed into the church through baptism, and our young people from Religious Education will be confirmed very soon.
But yes, the Christian heart always wants more. We need more of our Lord. We need more of our parish. The last five months have been so difficult for us who long for the rhythm of parish life. As I’ve said many times, it has been difficult on your priests as well. We cannot be complacent. With so much uncertainty about when things will “go back to normal,” we cannot sit idly by waiting for the pandemic to be over. The gospel must be proclaimed, and our ministries must adjust. Many of our ministries have been meeting virtually over zoom since March. I call upon all of our ministries who have not begun this practice to resume their normal schedule over Zoom or another virtual platform by the beginning of September. Bible studies will resume, I know Father Omar announced one that he will teach in the space, and formation nights will continue as well.
Many of our parents are curious what will happen with our Religious Education Program. We are working on solutions, and many of these solutions will involve parents being more proactive in the religious formation of their children. Obviously, the parish will be here to help you and guide you. As for our parochial school, we are still waiting to see what government and health officials say about the reopening of school, but with our school and our Religious Education program, we have been preparing since before the summer for any eventuality. We will communicate details on both when they become available.
In the meantime, let us find solace in the Eucharist. Yes, I know it may sometimes feel rushed because our volunteers are cleaning the church immediately after Mass (by the way, we need more volunteers to do this because this holy house belongs to all of us). It also pains me that we cannot have Eucharistic Adoration during this time in our chapel. So to somewhat remedy that, we will expose the Blessed Sacrament every Saturday morning after the 8:00 a.m. Mass. Since the church is already open for confessions from 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., we will have Exposition during that time. As I mentioned above, we do need volunteers to clean the church at 10:00 a.m. when the Blessed Sacrament is reposed because we have baptisms right after. We must all do our part especially if we are availing ourselves of the services of the church.
So slowly but surely, we must continue the ministerial life of our parish. We will get more creative to work around the pandemic and to keep everyone safe and healthy, but most importantly we will do everything possible to bring you the most precious gift we have: Jesus Christ.
God bless you all,