Dear Friends in Christ:
DON’T BELIEVE IT…or at least hear it all!!!
I cannot go anywhere without this question, “So, Father, you are finally going to open up fully Friday the 19th, how does that feel?” That would be awesome but it’s NOT TRUE. The Executive Order from the Governor of our State says that as of March 19, 2021, and I quote “capacity limits are eliminated for religious gatherings, providing all other health and safety measures, such as social distancing and face coverings, are observed.” So the Governor is telling everyone that he is no longer restricting those who wish to gather in our church and other houses of worship, but in reality he still is! By requiring social distancing we cannot fully open so there is a limitation of how many we can allow to gather for Mass.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but those are the facts and, therefore, March 19th doesn’t change anything for us. The bottom line is I am more than content with moving slowly in reopening in order to keep our parishioners and priests safe. Do I miss a full church? Of course! Do I miss seeing everyone gathering together in prayer? Of course I do! Do I miss seeing young families gathering after Mass to talk to one another and build friendships? Of course I do! But I just keep reminding myself that it will come, some day!
We have also received a couple of calls in the past few weeks inquiring as to when we are going to open Saint Thomas Becket Church. As you are aware, it is not that simple given the social distancing required. Further, the chairs make sanitizing a nightmare not to mention finding volunteers for the Masses we have already is sometimes challenging never mind adding additional Masses we would need help for.
That said, we will open Saint Thomas Becket Church for two Masses on Easter Sunday then it will return to being closed for the foreseeable future. I realize some people are attached to a building when they think of Church, but I hope and pray that you will open your hearts to see that we are one family of faith and what building we are in does not matter, but what matters is that we are together to offer praise and fitting worship to our God!
UPDATE ON NUMBERS…effective on Easter Sunday we will expand our numbers at each Mass (in Saint Bridget Church) to 250. We believe we can safely accommodate this number and still provide proper social distancing. If after a couple of weeks it is determined that this number is not working, or not allowing for proper social distancing, we may have to go back to the limit of 200, but we believe it will be fine.
EASTER 2021…………Do I dare?...this is something we have prayed over for quite some time now and we have gone back and forth about how many Masses we should have and the times they should be. This is not something we decided on a whim. We have consulted other priests over the past weeks, asked advice and input from our priest friends, consulted the Parish Pastoral Staff, the chairs of our Pastoral Council, and have finally decided what we will do! In preparing a schedule, there have been many challenges as you might imagine: restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather, restrictions on communal singing, and other restrictions necessitated by COVID such as sanitizing. So, with that said, here is the schedule for Easter 2021:
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
March 27 & 28, Masses at 7, 8, 9, 10:30AM, and Noon,
in Saint Bridget Church
Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 1st, 7 P.M.,
in Saint Bridget Church
Service of the Lord’s Passion, April 2nd, 3 P.M.
in Saint Bridget Church
Stations of the Cross, 7 P.M.
in Saint Bridget Church
Blessing of the Food, 11 A.M., in Saint Bridget Church
The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, 8 P.M. in Saint Bridget Church
Please note there is no 9A.M., 4P.M. or 5:15P.M. Mass on Holy Saturday!
Masses at 7, 8, 9, 10:30AM, and Noon in Saint Bridget Church (250 capacity per Mass)
and 8:30 and 10:30 A.M. in Saint Thomas Becket Church (100 capacity per Mass in the Church and 30 additional in the Father Frisbie Hall)
UPDATE ON the building at 185 Main Street…as you may notice by looking in the windows back before the pandemic hit us we were working toward preparing the building for remodeling to make use of it in the life of our parish. As you may remember, when we sold the Church of the Epiphany the Parish Finance Council allocated monies to be reserved for the remodeling of the building to create new meeting space for our growing and active parish family as well as offices. That said, I was very excited in early 2020 when we began discussions on the potential needs we had and how that building might play into helping us to meet those needs. I even met with a designer and together created the concept for the first floor to include two meeting rooms that can be made into one larger room for small group meetings and programs, a kitchen, a handicap accessible ramp and bathroom, and an office. The second floor will offer more offices for our parish staff who right now are sharing office space in the school and alternating hours to utilize their office in some cases. Those plans were immediately put on hold when the pandemic hit as I did not feel it was prudent to spend such money when we did not know how the parish would do financially. Well, thanks to your amazing and continued generosity to our parish throughout the pandemic, we did amazingly well. Recently, the Parish Finance Council was in agreement to move forward with the plans for remodeling the building in the near future. We have come up with the specs for the project. At this time, we have solicited bids from three builders, but any other builder in the parish who wishes to put a number to the specs is welcomed to contact the parish office by THIS TUESDAY, March 23rd at Noon. The bids must be in to the parish office by Friday, March 26th, at Noon.
REMINDER!!! THIS SUNDAY, March 21st, you are INVITED to CONFESSION and EUCHARIST. This is similar to what we did in Advent, but this time the flow of traffic will be a little different and we will have six priests in the school parking lot for the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 2-4PM! THIS IS OPEN TO EVERYONE!
Enter through Cherry Street and follow the directions of the Knights of Columbus who will be directing traffic!
UPDATE if you are only coming to receive Holy Communion please enter through the Main Street entrance and follow around the Church building.
If you are alone in the car, you will be able to do a drive-up confession without leaving your car; and if you have more than one person in your car, you will be directed where to park to enable you to do a walk-up confession (please make sure you remain socially distant and wear a mask, for your safety and that of your confessor).
After you have experienced God’s mercy, then you will have the opportunity to receive Holy Communion near the South Entrance Door of the Church while still in your car and then leave by the south driveway out onto Main Street! If you are receiving Holy Communion please be sure to consume Holy Communion before pulling away from the volunteers! The whole experience will be as safe as we can possibly make it. You don’t even need to leave the car!
Parish Corporal Works of Mercy update…this past weekend the generous people of our parish donated $3,848 to Saint Vincent DePaul Shelter, of which $1,080 was in checks made out to Saint Vincent DePaul directly. Since some donations are still trickling in we will not send the checks (along with the parish check) until this coming Wednesday or Thursday.
This weekend we are placing white baskets next to the red ones on the communion rail for the homemade Easter cards that will be shared with our shut-ins and those in nursing care facilities as we are visiting the sick!
Next weekend we will be collecting donations to purchase the book The Road of Hope for use in the Cheshire Prison by their chaplain. Please make checks out to the parish and we will purchase the books via Amazon once we know how much was collected as we work to help in visiting the imprisoned.
As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here.Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.