The Church enters into the Holy Week with the Passion and Palm Sunday. It is going to be the most unique and challenging Holy Week and Easter ever for me, and other clergy, and for most Catholics in our parish, Diocese, country, and even the world. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most churches worldwide are empty, and priests celebrate Masses and liturgies with no or very limited congregation. At this time during the Holy Triduum, the Church celebrates Christ’s dying and rising.
Most parishes now face unprecedented financial and ministerial hardships with no more regular Sunday collection. Many churches, including ours, had to lay off many employees to be able to pay the utilities, maintenance, and other essential bills. This past week all pastors were notified that the Diocesan Catholic Center laid off several full-time and part-time long-term employees, shrinking considerably many relevant ministry departments. It feels like the Buffalo Catholic Church, part of the Body of Christ, has been admitted into the hospital. Whether we will need a ventilator, time will tell; however, we know that just like most infected people recover from the coronavirus, we surely pray, hope, and expect a new liturgical and sacramental resurrection to come – hopefully sometime by the end of the Easter Season and beyond. Just like Jesus’ risen body was different, so will the Church be different – smaller, but more vibrant with renewed and deepened faith of the survivors and new believers. In the meantime, our local parish is on financial life support, trying to ride out the severe drought caused by a profound drop in the regular Sunday collection. I thank everyone who has mailed donations to the office or donated online. We need your help to pay the ongoing bills, keep the essential operations going, and in order to be fully back in the ministry to God’s people in His appointed time.
Catholic Charities Appeal continues. When mailing donation cards and checks to the parish office, please remember to include in the check memo our parish number “0507.” As of last week, our parish’s donated total is $12,415 or 36% of our goal. Thank you for your support of this needed cause.
Due to the NYS directive for all non-essential businesses to work 100% from home, our Parish Office closed until further notice. Phone messages, emails, and mail continue to be screened daily. Mass intentions can be requested by mail. One can leave a message by calling the Parish Office at 834-4282 or a direct message for the Pastor at 834-4282 ext. 408. Parishioners are always encouraged to call if in need of pastoral or spiritual guidance or prayers.
Our Church remains open daily for individual prayers, including Sunday, with extended hours during the Holy Week and Easter Weekdays, from 11 am – 7 pm, pending any future schedule updates. Please only use the chapel entrance or the main church entrance to enter. The other doors are locked from outside. You may park in the chapel lot in any of the parking spaces, including the handicap ones. All church and chapel door knobs, door crush bars, sinks, and toilets are disinfected daily. Please use only the restrooms adjacent to the chapel entrance for now. For safety, try not to touch any surfaces with bare hands, but with a tissue, glove, or part of your clothing. When coughing or sneezing, do so in a tissue or bent elbow clothing. Seniors over 60 or anyone with underlying medical conditions are strongly advised to continue to self-isolate at home for their safety for at least the next month.
For more timely announcements from the Pastor, which should be coming every few days or so in the weeks to come, I invite you to subscribe to the current parish emailing list of over 280 parishioners. It can be done by sending a “Subscribe to BSC Parish email list” line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We continue to pray for all the sick of the parish, in WNY, the nation, and the world. We pray especially for the first responders, fire, police, the armed forces, border control agents, doctors, nurses, and all other medical professionals. Also, for the grocery store personnel, food pantry and food delivery volunteers; for clergy and all other service jobs; for people working hard and putting their health and lives on the line to keep us safe. We also pray for the dying and those who died after contracting the COVID-19. Those dying in the ICUs often need our prayers most, as they are often separated from their loved ones, but hopefully never from God. Since we cannot easily come to be united with Jesus in Holy Communion at Mass, the Risen Christ will come to our streets. I plan to walk and ride with Jesus in the monstrance within the boundaries of our parish as soon as we get the ordered large poster image of the Divine Mercy. It will be affixed on both sides of the van for street-level veneration and blessing of the entire parish. Msgr. McCarthy will drive his black van, and no one would be following or congregating. People of faith would be invited to stand in front of their porches, driveways, open doors, or windows. They could genuflect or bow and bless themselves and say a short prayer of Adoration and Thanksgiving. Perhaps pray the Rosary or the Chaplet and display the printed image of Divine Mercy attached to their outside doors. We invite people to send an invitation to ride by a particular home, especially with the sick or homebound, or a specific street or neighborhood, and to bless them with the Eucharist. Please send a note or email to the office with a name, address, and contact number, if desired. I will do the walks or drives between Easter Sunday, April 12, and Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19, inclusive, on days with good weather.
A suggestion for a powerful one hour Lenten preached mini-retreat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74Qr751H8Fk
Please see pages 4 & 5 of the bulletin for some essential natural health suggestions on dealing with COVID-19.
Fear not. Christ is in charge. Trust in Jesus.