March 12, 2020
To the Members of our Parish Family,
I am writing to you as your pastor in light of the current challenge that has confronted us in the coronavirus pandemic. This is a time for us to resist fear and take the precautions that are recommended.
In an effort to take every precaution to protect our parishioners I am reminding you of the precautions already announced and now further updates on precautions mandated by the Archbishop.
We have already announced that at all masses and communion services the distribution of communion will only be with the consecrated host. Also, communion will ONLY BE GIVEN IN THE HAND AND WILL NOT BE DISTRIBUTED ON THE TONGUE. Please respect this precaution as necessary under the present circumstances. Also, the sign of peace is to be given in a manner that does not involve bodily contact.
Governor Hogan has closed public schools in the state for the next two weeks and Catholic schools are expected to do so as well. We will also suspend religious education classes on Sundays during this period. We are also suspending all other parish social gatherings and youth activities and committee meetings.
Governor Hogan has banned public events involving more than 250 people. As regards our weekend masses, the weekly mass schedule will be continued. [edit: please see the 3/14 announcement, Masses are cancelled until further notice] Our mass attendance count usually does not exceed that number at any one mass. Please remember that if you are experiencing any flu like symptoms, you should NOT attend mass, and should seek medical attention. Also, if you are fearful of attending mass for fear of the health risk, you are excused from the Sunday mass obligation.
Also, I would like to appeal to you to remember that if our weekly mass attendance seriously drops due to fear of the current coronavirus threat, it will seriously affect our offertory income, and could be extremely detrimental to our parish financially. Churches are expected to be economically hit by this crisis as well as many other institutions and businesses. You have been most generous and loyal in your support of our parish community, and I would appeal to you to remain so through this difficult period. If you decide that it is prudent for you to refrain from attending mass for a period, to please consider either mailing your regular contribution to the parish or saving it and putting it in the offertory collection when you resume attending mass. [You may also donate online, either in a one-time donation or sign up for recurring donations.] We have worked hard and you have made it possible to put our parish in a stable financial position, and with your continued loyalty and support, the coronavirus will not destroy that success.
The times we live in can be scary and threatening, but we live in faith, and faith rests on love which drives out all fear from the heart. Let us pray for all those affected by this disease, and commit ourselves to doing what we can for each other, and renew our determination to let nothing deter us from witnessing the faith that with God’s grace we can overcome all things in Christ Jesus.
I hold you all in my heart and prayers,