In last week’s bulletin, I wrote a little about the diocesan
initiative known as the Road to Renewal. This program is meant to introduce a more collaborative model of parish ministry by grouping parishes together into “families.” The individual parishes in a “family” would all remain independent of each other, including retaining their own trustees, parish
councils, finance councils, and other structures. The idea is that each parish would share its own particular strengths with the other parishes, in a way that benefits the people of those parishes, as well as the communities in which they are found. However, what about the clergy of those individual parishes? How would priests minister to the people of their own parishes, while still being available to assist the neighboring parishes in the “family?” For this week’s bulletin, I wanted to share what plans the diocese has in regards to priests and where they will be assigned.
In short, priests would be reassigned and sent to the specific “family” in which their parish church is currently grouped. Instead of priests being assigned to specific parishes, like St. John the Baptist or St. Pius X, the priest would be formally assigned to the larger family of parishes and would share in the duties of ministering to all of the people in those parishes, alongside the priests from the other parishes too. This model would mean a very significant change for parish leadership since priests will be responsible for ministering to a much larger congregation. As far as where the priests will live, that has yet to be decided upon and will probably vary depending on the family of parishes. Some priests may choose to live together in a common rectory, or some may choose to remain in residence at their own parish, but at this point, we do not know how and when this aspect will be implemented.
For myself, I do not know when our family of parishes will be announced here in Tonawanda, but I wish as much as possible that this information is given in a timely manner. When this initiative is fully under way, I hope that all of you will at least be aware of it and not be surprised at what may come for us, here at Blessed Sacrament.
Important Guidelines regarding COVID-19
Now that New York State has reached 70% vaccination rates, many of the previous restrictions have been lifted. In light of this new direction, the Diocese of Buffalo has issued the latest
guidelines for parishes and schools.
1) Vaccination histories remain private medical information and NO ONE will be asked about their vaccination status. Likewise, there will be no distinctions between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
2) All capacity limitations and roping off of pews are lifted. People are still encouraged to maintain social distancing, however, all pews will be open for seating immediately.
3) Masks are now completely optional for all persons. Once again, the diocesan guidelines do not distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons. People may continue to wear masks at their own discretion, but the previous
obligations for mask wearing are now lifted.
4) Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are encouraged to wear masks for the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament; however, they are not to be considered obligatory.
5) At the encouragement of the diocese, the Live Streaming for the weekend Masses will be reduced to only ONE Mass per weekend.
6) As per diocesan guidelines, Holy Water fonts will continue to remain empty. People may fill up a personal bottle of
Holy Water from the large reservoir in the chapel and use it for themselves; however, these bottles should not be shared with different persons.
7) Hymnals will continue to be removed for the time being.
8) Congregational singing is still discouraged and if people wish to sing, they are strongly advised to wear a mask, as per diocesan guidelines. If there is to be singing, the
diocese, in consultation with New York State, recommends 12 feet of social distancing between persons.
9) Confessions will be returned to the actual confessional rooms in the chapel, and will no longer be held in the crying room of the main church.
~Fr. Martin Gallagher