Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During this time of a pandemic I would like to remind you once again of a few details in our life as Catholics. Many people are confused and bewildered by the different information we receive about the pandemic. The doomsday versions sow fear and dismay in our hearts. The pandemic deniers don’t take things seriously enough. Surely, as people of faith we should also be people of common sense. If the experts tell us this is a serious pandemic and we know people are getting sick, being hospitalized, and dying, then we should use our common sense and take precautions for our safety and the safety of our loved ones—especially those who are more vulnerable because of underlying health issues or advanced age.

This is a serious disease and a highly infectious virus. On the other hand, it is also true that the death rate is very low and most of the people who get seriously ill are those who have underlying health problems and those who are weakened through old age. Common sense therefore, tells us, if we are in those categories to take special care and precautions. Those who are younger and healthier should also be sensible, avoid large gatherings, wear masks and keep our distance.

When it comes to church attendance, we should try to come to Mass. If you can get to the supermarket and the pharmacy, then you can also come to Mass. Sunday Mass obligation continues to be suspended, but there are other opportunities. Come to Mass on a weekday. The Thursday 10 am Mass is now pretty busy because it is the school Mass, but Monday and Friday mornings have plenty of room. You can come, sit in an isolated spot and worship the Lord in our beautiful church.

Over the next week Fr. Ballard and I will complete our round of phone calls to our elderly parishioners, asking if they can make it to church or if they would like someone to bring them communion at home. Once we gather the data, we will set up a home visiting team following the diocesan guidelines for safe home visits.

I would also like to remind you about the sacrament of anointing. It seems that many Catholics still believe the sacrament of anointing is only used for “the last rites.” This is not true. The sacrament of anointing is a sacrament of healing and you may ask your priest to anoint you or your loved ones when they are seriously ill or facing major surgery. This sacrament is a beautiful participation in Christ’s healing and forgiveness and it is not reserved only for those who are dying. If you have further questions about this, please be in touch with the parish office with your question and Fr. Richard or I will assist you.

Please also be reminded about Catholic teaching on end of life issues. If you or your loved ones are facing death please talk to us so we can minister to you and advise you on the best way forward both for the person’s passing and what to do about funeral services at this time. It is also not a bad idea to plan for this eventuality both in planning where you will be interred, how the funeral should take place and how to manage this stage of transition. You should also be sure to make a will so that your family is properly looked after and you remember your financial obligations. We are here to help with these difficult matters. Don’t be afraid to ask!

After such a serious conclusion, I want to reassure you not only of our care and prayers for you spiritually, but also to remind you that we put ourselves into the Lord’s hands every morning, knowing that for those who love Him “all things work together for good.”

Your Pastor,

Fr. Longenecker