Good morning everyone. This weekend we did celebrate communion services on Sunday morning after the 9am Mass at both St. Anthony and St. Dominic. They were wonderful celebrations and both I and Deacon Harry recognize what an important moment this was for so many of our parishioners who have been away. It is one of the moments of my priesthood I will long remember.
I am aware that the demographics were skewed a bit younger and that perhaps our older and less-internet enabled population was probably not able to act on this opportunity as they would have if they had heard about it through other modalities. For that we do need to apologize and we will need to figure out ways to get late-breaking news out to our people. For this weekend, we did not receive advice from the Diocese of Springfield until late on Thursday and we were not able to put our plan together for last weekend until late Friday. Thankfully many did hear and were able to attend… perhaps about 150 altogether.
I would ask our Facebook-enabled families to please help watch out for friends and neighbors who are not-so-plugged in, to help spread the word. We will continue to do the best we can with the tools we have and the time limitations we are under to implement such totally new ways of “being Church”.
As for next week, the intention is to do Communion Sercives again if there are no changes in the directives coming out of the Diocese of the various civil authorities. As quickly as things change, though, I think we want to wait a day or two to make sure that there are no new directives or opportunities. Expect to hear from us on about Thursday or Friday regarding the coming weekend’s plans.
I have nothing to base this on, but I think and hope we might be getting back to church sooner rather than later, although this will also likely be a controlled and/or abbreviated experience at first. When we get the first opportunity which is judged medically-reasonable and sound by not only outside authority, but also by local advisors that I am listening to and asking counsel, my plan is to make the sacraments and specifically Mass available to the people. We can’t guarantee complete safety, of course, we ask those who are vulnerable or sick to stay away for the time being. But for those who take reasonable precautions and are in good health, we are going to accommodate your ability to worship as an essential service and “right”. As I can say from my own recent visit to a local superstore, I am sure that we can do a much better job at keeping people at appropriate social distance and safe than they were able to manage.
Once again, I ask your patience as we navigate these strange waters and we will do what we can to provide for the spiritual needs of our people.
In the “amazing” news category, I did get some analytics from YouTube from April. Out of some 2300 unique viewers, there was more than 440 hours of viewing, which averages to 11.5 minutes per view. Now some of those views will be a five second… “wow… that’s neat” follows by people clicking on the next channel. And indeed, people use the webcast Mass and Holy Hour in different ways. There is no obligation in how they are used… perhaps you tune in for only the Liturgy of the Word, or you skip over the silences in the Holy Hour to pray the Rosary or Evening Prayer. That is perfectly ok. I am just glad that the efforts are proving fruitful. I suspect that we have at least as much viewing time on Facebook as well, and I’ll report that when I get the chance.
Once again, it was great seeing everyone who came out this weekend. We will continue to webcast and improve our webcast abilities until we are completely back to “normal”. Please stay well and know of my prayers and that of Deacon Harry and the entire crew here for your health and safety. — Fr. Tom Donovan