A Few Words From Our Pastor
The company that publishes our church bulletins has asked that we continue to submit our parishes’ information, even though Mass will not be celebrated publicly for the foreseeable future, as our diocese, nation and world continues to struggle with the novel corona virus and its life disrupting consequences for all of us. And so, I find myself in the rather unusual situation of writing an article which may or may not ever be read by anyone other than myself.
By now, all of us are quite aware that the situation in which we find ourselves is changing not only daily, but even hourly at times. Last weekend I celebrated Mass with you, fully expecting that we would be together for Eucharist again this weekend. Then, late last Sunday night, as I was checking my email, I saw that the diocese had sent out an email message that all Masses were no longer to be publicly celebrated. The exact words of the message from the diocese were,
“Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger announces that there will be no regularly scheduled public Masses in the Diocese of Buffalo until further notice due to an abundance of caution and growing concerns about the spread of the novel corona virus…The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today updated its guidelines with the instruction to cancel or postpone in person events that consist of 50 people or more for the next 8 weeks.
On Friday, Bishop Scharfenberger announced that all Catholic faithful are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligations…In addition, all other parish events and large gatherings are to be postponed, including Confirmations. Funerals will continue to be conducted, though with only immediate family present until further notice. All Catholic schools will remain closed until April 20, 2020.”
“As the faith community of Western New York, we have an important part to play in protecting those most vulnerable and those with underlying medical issues during this period of extreme concern over the spread of the corona virus,” said Bishop Scharfenberger. “I realize how deeply disappointing it is during our season of Lent to refrain from gathering at public Masses and par cipa ng together in our liturgical life, but we must avoid the risk of wider infection. I encourage the faithful to pray fervently during this time when we must be apart and to continue their Lenten journey within families and in the quiet of their own prayerful reflection, knowing that Christ abides with us always and in every place.”
Bishop Scharfenberger has asked all priests to continue to celebrate Mass privately for the intentions you have requested, especially during this sacred season of Lent. Only once in my lifetime have I celebrated Mass privately, and that was on a winter day when the weather was so severe that no one could safely travel to church from their homes. Now, until the coronavirus threat passes, I will be celebrating Mass privately on a daily basis, but I feel I will have you and your families present in mind and heart more than ever, due both to your absence from the Mass and our shared necessity of God’s grace during these unprecedented times. Undoubtedly, we are all learning something about our world and ourselves as we navigate these unchartered waters. Next weekend I would like to invite your reflection upon the insights we may experience during this time of pandemic. In the meantime, our church offices are open to serve you. Also, our churches will be open for all who would like to come for a visit to pray privately, while all are asked to maintain a prudent distance from one another.
So, St. Margaret Church will be open for visits on Sundays from 9:00am 10:00am, Mondays from 9:00am 10:00am, Thursdays from 9:00am 10:00am, and Saturdays from 9:00am 10:00am.
Holy Spirit Church will be open on Saturdays from 4:00pm 5:00pm, Sundays from 9:00am 10:00am, Tuesdays from 9:00am 10:00am, Wednesdays from 6:00pm 7:00pm,
and Fridays from 9:00am 10:00am.
I hope this will be helpful for you, and will supplement the prayer that each of us must especially during this time of fear and panic offer as people of faith.
Sincerely in Christ, Father Joe