Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic it looks to me like we need to plan for the long term rather than the short term. I think the problem may be with us for another six months or so, and we need to be aware of safety for ourselves and our families.

Therefore, for the foreseeable future we will have in place the present restrictions in parish life. This means no more than 100 people at Mass, and making reservations for the weekend masses. I would like to remind you of what I said last week. If you feel confident enough to go out to the supermarket or pharmacy you should feel confident enough to attend Mass.

We have plenty of restrictions and safety guidelines in place for you, and if you attend a Monday morning or Thursday morning mass there is plenty of room to keep a safe distance from everyone else. At OLR the priest or deacon brings communion to you in the pew so you don’t have to get up and get close to others in the communion line.

This week I will be meeting with our parish staff to discuss how we can best return to other meetings and activities in the Fall. Our Headmaster Mr. Curtin has thing well planned for school, but we also need to ask, “How do we hold youth group meetings, men’s fellowship, ladies’ groups, prayer groups and other meetings?” We will be looking at all the possibilities and coming up with creative and positive ways forward. If you have ideas on how best to return to parish life while keeping precautions in place it will be great to hear from you.

We are also exploring new ways to minister to the needy in our area. Chris Loewer, the Director of Outreach has been meeting with directors of charities and ministries to see what their best practice is and how we can work with them and learn from them. As we gather more information. we’ll be sharing this with you as we move forward.

Finally, I am concerned for many of our older parishioners who remain housebound. One of the things we will discuss is how we can best bring the sacraments and fellowship to those who are stuck at home because their age or health problem make it too risky for them to come out and mix with others.

I hope you and your family remain safe and well during this time. I would encourage you to use common sense when it comes to social gatherings, social distancing and wearing masks. This does not have to be a political issue. Refusing to wear a mask is not a hill you need to die on! When you come to church please consider others who may be more worried than you are about the health crisis. They may be more worried for very good reasons: they or their loved ones may be more vulnerable than you.

My thanks to all of you who have supported our team and our parish during this difficult time. Pray for us. Pray for our parish and church. Pray for our country and our whole human family. This plague is not good, but it is also not as bad as other disasters to hit the human race so let us take courage and put our hope in the Lord who does not promise to take us out of problems, but does promise to take us through them!

Your pastor,

Fr. Dwight Longenecker