Dear Friends in Christ:
WELCOME HOME…I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone who is joining us for Mass this weekend. It is a great joy to welcome you HOME to your spiritual home for the celebration of Sunday Mass IN PERSON! Thank you for your amazing generosity and understanding as we waited for this day.
I am most grateful to you for your patience during these past few months. I have done my best to communicate with you in a timely manner as this reopening was approaching to ensure everyone was well aware of the precautions being made to ensure we return to a safe environment. Having said that, I know you also understand it will be a long time before we return to the “normal” routines we knew before COVID-19.
Since there are regulations by the State on the number that can gather in public buildings we are still asking for your patience and cooperation. We will certainly NEED your cooperation in signing-up, or making a reservation if you would like to think of it in that regard, for you and your family members in advance.
Masses will be limited to 100 persons as of the time of this writing. One MUST sign-up to attend the Mass using the SignUp Genius found on our parish website at www.stbridgetcheshire.org. If you do not use a computer please contact the parish office to sign-up. The process has worked out fine for weekday Masses but it will be ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY that the Signup Genius be used for weekend Masses since the numbers will be that much greater. If we all do our part to register ahead of time it will work out just fine.
Great care and attention went into the details in preparing for this reopening. I am so grateful to the Saint Bridget of Sweden Pastoral Council who has really taken the lead in the organization for this moment, and in soliciting enough volunteers to ensure all are welcomed, precautions are followed, and the church is able to be sanitized after each Mass. This was a large undertaking but they did it with great enthusiasm and that enthusiasm is spreading as more and more come back to their spiritual home.
The schedule will be as follows beginning THIS WEEKEND July 4th and 5th with ALL MASSES in Saint Bridget Church for the time being:
Saturday Vigil Masses at 4PM and 5:30PM
Sunday Masses at 7AM, 8:30AM, 10AM, and 11:30AM.
I remind you as I did last weekend of other items for your consideration:
1. The dispensation from the Sunday obligation has been extended through September 6th, and we will continue to livestream Mass (at 10AM now) for those who are uncomfortable returning just yet. Those in high-risk categories are encouraged to continue staying home, even as others begin to return to Mass. The decision to attend is yours. Please use prudence and good judgement in considering if you should attend a public Mass at this time.
2. Registration IS REQUIRED for both weekday and weekend Masses due to the limit of 100 people per worship service at this time. Again, the Sign-up Genius can be accessed here: https://bit.ly/38minI6
3. Please familiarize yourself with the Guidelines issued by the Archdiocese by visiting their website www.archdioceseofhartford.org.
4. Remember the government is recommending the following persons to stay home and stay safe: anyone who has underlying health risks, anyone who feels sick, or has a cough or fever, those caring for an elderly or sick person, and those feeling anxious or fearful for their own health.
5. If you do come to Mass, please bring your own hand sanitizer and a mask, arrive early, and maintain 6 feet of social distancing when moving about the church.
6. The front entrance, and the south entrance, will continue to be the ONLY entrances utilized at this time.
7. Please remember there is to be NO gatherings in the church or the parking lot at this time. I know many will be tempted to want to catch up but please do so by calling one another on the telephone.
8. There will be NO congregational singing! This one hurts Father Federico and myself since we are always trying to encourage more participation, but it has been proven that singing and loud speech expel more excessive water droplets raising the potential for transmitting the virus. Therefore all hymnals have been removed for the time being.
9. At communion time, come forward single file, maintaining six feet with the person in front of you, put out your hands to receive Holy Communion, step to the side where the blue X has been put on the floor, lower your mask and consume the consecrated host, then put your mask back on, and return to your pew by the side aisle.
We promise you that we will be responsible, diligent, and cautious as we begin to reopen to ensure the safety and well-being of all of us, clergy and laity. While we are doing our best, it should be noted, that any gathering of people carries a risk, and we CANNOT provide an absolute guarantee of your safety. Please continue to be united in prayer and trust in God’s wisdom and God’s time as we begin to see a reopening of our parish for Public Masses.
Perhaps as we return to Mass this weekend, though the experience may not be the ideal, we could reflect on what it has meant for us to fast from Sunday Eucharist during this time of quarantine. While we could focus on the negatives, what are the positives? How has this time of self-solation led us to experience a deeper hunger for the Eucharist? I wonder too how many have experienced a deeper longing to be with others for communal prayer and to catch up on life. As I mentioned the other night in a homily for the St. Bridget School graduation, I wonder how many of us see the presence of Jesus in those around us more clearly now. Can we see Jesus in those around us, those who come to us in need, or in our family members with whom we have been quarantined all these weeks?
HAPPIEST CONGRATULATIONS TO ST. BRIDGET SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020…this past Monday evening we celebrated a Graduation Mass and Ceremony for the 41 graduates of St. Bridget School. Although we planned to have our celebration outside on the ballfield, we were able to move it indoors to the church and school gymnasium thanks to the efforts of our maintenance staff and, of course, Team Holy Spirit and their technological abilities to livestream the Mass on the screen in the school gymnasium. I was so happy to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and so proud to see them excited to see one another and ready to move on to the next phase in their lives as students and as disciples. I reminded them that St. Bridget School forms the whole child and we are focused on ensuring that our parish school is a place where people enter to learn but leave to serve. I am confident this class of young men and women will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of others through their years ahead. Class of 2020 of St. Bridget School and all members of the Class of 2020, we congratulate you!
PLANS ARE UNDERWAY for First Communions and Confirmations!!! I know there are many parents wondering what the plan is for the First Communions and Confirmations that should have occurred already in the Spring. Well we had to wait until such time that we could be permitted to have gatherings in the church. Now that we are able to open for Masses and other celebrations for up to 100 people we are planning like never before. You see
we had about 120 young people planning and preparing for their First Communion, and another 140 planning and preparing for their Confirmation! Well as you can see given the guidelines on the number of people permitted in the church we have to get creative. I am pleased to say that we are finalizing a plan for offering these celebrations in smaller groups to accommodate as many people as possible. While it is NOT LIKELY that you will be able to have everyone who normally may come for such a celebration, we are doing our best to offer enough options to make it possible for a couple of guests for each young person. STAY TUNED more information will be coming VERY SOON!
As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend…I would be remiss if I did not invite each of us to take time to express our gratitude for the freedoms of our land. Let us be thankful for the men and women who have defended our freedoms in the various branches of the military, and let us show our gratitude to God by using them properly.
How do we properly use the gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? True life, true liberty, and true happiness must be pursued. Our Lord said, Happy are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the peacemakers, the merciful, those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:1-12). If we use the freedoms given to us as citizens of this land, then we can live our lives imitating the Lord in our words and actions, seeking to be His presence in our world around us, and thus attaining to the fullness of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! Happy Fourth of July, but more appropriately Happy Independence Day!
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic. With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, may we be united with one another in prayer! Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you!