It’s hard to believe but we are nearly half way through Summer season, a Summer like none others before. The weather has been very summer like, with plenty hot, sunny days, but everything else seems very “un- summer like. Walking past the empty park on Seminary speaks volumes. All the weekend festivals have been canceled and large gatherings are strongly discouraged. Although the latter seems to be largely ignored.
It just feels very different. Every parish usually slows down during the Summer months, but this year the lack of in person gatherings makes the experience very disconnecting. At least for me. I truly miss seeing people, gathering together for a variety of reasons, enjoying each other’s company. The Zoom experience is ok but no substitute. All parish meetings have taken place over Zoom since March, including Parish Council, Finance Council and Staff. All of our outreach ministries, Food Pantry, Loaves and Fishes, are as active as ever, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. Our “landscapers” are doing a phenomenal job keeping our grounds beautiful and welcoming. We need to thank them for their commitment during these difficult times. The meals have been prepared, the bags have been filled in love. A special thanks to Raphael for diligently and beautifully taping and transmitting all our Sunday masses.
Private Prayer in the church and the in person celebration of Mass have resumed, thanks to the help of nearly 30 volunteers. Much effort goes into each and every time a gathering in the church takes place, for adoration, mass, baptisms and weddings. It is all going very well. I apologize for the “glitches” that have occurred in the audio/video transmission during the streaming. Jasón is doing a great job making our new display screens and their implementation a reality. We now can use the Parish Center with its large, beautiful screen, for Mass. This space might be more acceptable for people who are a bit uncomfortable about returning to Mass. The PC has doors that can be opened allowing for fresh air, plus the spacing between seats can be enhanced. I can distribute Communion and be extremely careful in keeping my hands sanitized. Just a thought.
In response to the unrest and protests, as our country is trying to openly face racism and our racist past, we have 8 groups of people reading and discussing a book on racism and our catholic faith. Written by Fr. Bryon Massingale, an African American priest, the book delves into how racism has shaped our culture and church. Very challenging and extremely necessary. If you haven’t read it, I encourage all to do so.
Mark, our Director of Evangelization, and Kate, our Director of Lifelong Formation, have managed to keep the Alpha program alive and well. We have parishioners who have helped them in reaching out to individuals interested in becoming Catholic. All the “gatherings” have occurred virtually. The Gospel message continues to be spread, much more powerfully than any virus!!!
Even though it might not feel normal, our parish is quite active behind the scenes. Each member of our staff is working remotely in their homes, as well as, in person, at the parish. Charisse, Jen, Mark, Kate,Jason,Sergio and Irma are working hard to keep some degree of normalcy.
They are doing a fantastic job!! I am so grateful for the dedication of all our volunteers, our lay leaders and staff for keeping the parish strong.
I am personally grateful to the parishioners who made me delicious and healthy meals when I was locked in and alone. Your thoughtfulness meant much to me. I’m doing ok during these isolating times, just like you all. We have to try and do the best we can to stay healthy, not only physically, but even more importantly, emotionally and spiritually. Live streaming mass might be nice, but no substitute for the actual in person celebration. You can’t receive Holy Communion during these virtual celebrations. Even when my dad couldn’t go to church anymore and watched mass on TV, he still received Communion on a regular basis. Human contact.
If anyone wishes, I can come to your home, not enter, and give you Holy Communion with properly sanitized hands. I completely understand if people are uncomfortable with this because they have physical conditions that might make this too risky. Each and every person must do what they are comfortable with.
If you have any special needs and prayers, please call Charisse and let her know. I am saying Mass in my little chapel for the parishioners of St. Teresa’s and praying throughout the day for your well being. It’s the least I can do. I am receiving the Lord in the Eucharist for all of you who can’t. I unite my ministry with Mary, the Mother of us all and the Saints, especially Teresa and Romero. The Mass and Rosary are my lifelines to Christ. Take care. Be at Peace.
Lastly, I have a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace, Fr. Frank