Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we continue to cope together with the pandemic, I would like to remind you of a few facts and encourage you with some ways forward.

Firstly, please remember that the COVID-19 virus is still “out there”. It is easy with the fine weather and the relaxation of official lockdown rules to assume that there is no longer a problem. There is a problem and as you will know, South Carolina is experiencing a spike in cases and Greenville County is one of the hotspots.

Therefore, if you are elderly and have underlying conditions please continue to be alert and careful. If you are younger and healthy and don’t feel there is much of a problem, please be understanding towards those who are more concerned than you are. They may have very good reasons for being more anxious and we need to be sensitive to their concerns and fears.

The bishop continues the suspension of the Sunday Mass obligation for Catholics, and if you are elderly or have underlying conditions you may wish not to attend Mass. However, I would like to remind you of the provisions we have put in place for you. The weekday Masses are available for you to attend. The Friday morning Mass at 10:00 am is reserved for older people, but the Monday morning Mass at 8:30 am and the Thursday morning Mass at 10:00 are sparsely attended. It is possible for you to attend Mass and be seated a good distance from anyone else. We administer communion by coming to you in the pew so you don’t need to move closer to anyone in a communion line.

I would add that if you are elderly and have health issues but wish to attend a weekday Mass you could isolate further by arriving just before Mass starts and sit in the Narthex where you can hear and see, but you are further isolated. You could also sit in the Quiet Room usually reserved for mothers and children. You would be completely isolated there but you could hear and see and we would bring communion to you. The other option to receive communion is to come to a weekday Mass, but for you to remain in your car and I will bring communion to you. This is not to be preferred, but I will work with you if you let me know this is what you would like to do.

If you are younger and do not have underlying issues, I would like to remind you that the suspension of the Sunday Mass obligation does not mean that you should not attend Mass. Of course, it is for your spiritual benefit and the good of your soul to attend Mass! Therefore, I would say, “If you feel you can go shopping and visit with friends, then you should also feel you can come to Mass.” We have put plenty of safety measures in place. If you can’t come to a weekend Mass, then come to worship the Lord at our weekday Masses. We are making the effort to bring people to the Lord during this difficult time. You should not treat this time as a vacation from Mass. Indeed, during the times of difficulty we are facing—not only with the pandemic, but also with the unrest in our country and the world, we need prayer warriors more than ever!

Now some news. Our Director of Music, Massimo Scapin has accepted a job as music director at the parish of St. John Cantius in Chicago. This weekend is his last weekend with us. St. John Cantius is a vibrant parish with a strong musical program and it is a perfect placement for Massimo. We thank Massimo for his amazing talent and experience and all he has contributed, and wish him and his family all at the best as they move to the Windy City. Over the next few weeks, we will welcome Massimo’s replacement and will keep you posted about this development.

Finally, please remember our parish school in your prayers. The pandemic is still affecting our enrollment and decisions about school in the fall. I hope you will have read about my idea to offer scholarships for five boys who will join our school and help to form a boys’ choir for the parish. I have had a good response from some parishioners and have almost reached the target of $35,000 to provide the scholarships. If you would like to learn more please send me an email.

This Sunday we continue our path through Ordinary Time —the time in the church year when we settle down into the long haul to Advent. This is a time that always reminds me that we are in this present age looking forward to the coming of Christ, and it is a time to roll up our sleeves, buckle on our armor, sharpen our weapons and engage in the battle to complete Christ’s work in the world.

Your pastor,

Fr. Longenecker