Good afternoon, everyone. Here’s the scoop on a number of things:
- The nation observes Memorial Day on Monday, May 25. Normally we have a Mass at Calvary Cemetery in Quincy, but of course, that is not going to happen this year. Mass will take place over the usual webcast outlets on Monday morning at its usual time, 9am. We honor those, first, who have died in service to the nation, praying that their sacrifices may not go in vain, but bring about a greater peace in the world. We also honor all those who have died, reckoning Memorial Day under its original title (from the mid 1800’s) of “Decoration Day” where an effort was made to decorate the graves of those who have fallen, as well as all of our beloved dead. May God give them eternal rest, and let their good deeds go before them all
- On Sunday, Fr. Pawel Luczak will celebrate Mass at the 9am slot, as a “first Mass” of sorts here in Quincy and before this community that has supported him in his priestly vocation. Of note, thanks to the exceeding generosity of the local Knights of Columbus Assembly and Council, and the help of other friends, we are presenting Fr. Pawel with a chalice that will be blessed for use during his priestly ministry.
- We will have Communion Services at St. Anthony and St. Dominic at 11am, following the pattern of the last two weeks. Deacon Harry will be at St. Dominic’s. Fr. Pawel will be at St. Anthony, and will be available to greet and congratulate, as well as receive “first blessings” from his priestly ministry.
- I expect that this week and next week we will continue to have “private Mass” and Communion services. I am hoping that, perhaps, on June 7, the bishop will be ready to release the parishes to implement the “restart” plan which has been published by the Illinois bishops. I have received a few calls in the last 24 hours, informing me that President Trump has declared that churches are “essential services” and should resume immediately under that proclamation. Indeed, I have believed all along that we have the right to assemble and worship, regardless of any proclamation from civil authority. That being said, our bishop has determined as a matter of public health and safety to suspend public Mass, which is his prerogative to do. Further, it is only by his prerogative that we will be allowed to resume public Masses. While the worst, we all hope, is over, there is still considerable danger to those who are elderly and vulnerable to the ravages of this disease, and he wants to be sure that those who are in attendance are as safe as we can possibly help them be. I think it is reasonable to presume that as shops and restaurants and other venues open, there will be infections until all have either been infected and recover, or until a vaccine or other treatment is available. With thousands of people in attendance in the Catholic Churches in our diocese, the bishop, I believe, simply wants to be sure that we are leaders in “doing things right”. To that end, the protocols, which are still being finalized will be giving instructions for giving Holy Communion, of limiting attendance for each event and seating people at distances from each other, of sanitizing the church between each crowd that comes through, and other procedures. This is certainly not optimal, but we are working towards getting back to “business as usual”. I beg your patience as we work through these protocols. We are going to take this time because 1) we want to get it ‘right’, 2) Mass is otherwise so freely available to many by broadcast means, and 3) Holy Communion and other sacraments are now readily available in controlled environments and circumstances for the good of the faithful.
- Finally, in the bishop’s letter this week, he conceded to pastors the faculty to offer Confirmation and First Communion to our young people who have been waiting for those sacraments. I am meeting with Carol Frericks and Bonnie Nytes to come up with a plan on how we will make these sacraments available to our young people in the coming weeks and months. The bishop has anticipated that there will be those who will wish to receive those sacraments from his hands, and provision will also be made to celebrate the sacraments with bishop at a later time and date. Again, when we get this figured out, we will get an announcement out to families who will be involved.
We have a lot going on. Stay tuned by Facebook and please help to transmit this information to those who may be less able to use the internet. The bulletin will be going up onto the parish web site as soon as I finish publishing this message. Until we meet again, may God continue to protect and guide you all in these strange times. -Fr. Tom Donovan