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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Varia - a collection of unrelated items, events, or, in this case, happenings in and around the parish.

-On Friday evening, we celebrated the last of our six Confirmation ceremonies for the 171 teenagers in our Confirmation program. Their names appear on the front cover of the bulletin this week. I want to congratulate them on this special moment in their journey of faith and to thank them for their perseverance in staying with the program. This class is unique. They have had to deal with virtual classes, after a long day of virtual learning, a much reduced retreat experience, conducted in a shorter amount of time, right here in the Parish Center and a one-size-fits-all service project, in which they were not able to choose and develop their own service projects but participated in the monthly food drive for the Fr. English Center. They "rolled with the punches," "stepped up to the plate" and did everything that was expected of them. And I want to thank them for sticking with it, to come to the Sacrament as prepared as we could help them to be. At the least, we were able to celebrate the Sacrament for all the candidates, before the end of the school year.

Dear Friends,

The saga continues-meaning, of course, the pandemic and how it affects our lives. Nothing drastic has changed from last weekend but I do want to recap some of the protocols I mentioned in the video, which is still available on the website.

If you are fully vaccinated, you may come to Mass and worship without a mask, preferably in the main body of the church. Even if you are fully vaccinated, but want to continue to wear a mask, you may also sit in the main body of the church. Just to note-social distancing is no longer observed in the main body of the church.

If you are not fully vaccinated, or are not yet comfortable without social distancing, the two transepts, at St. Jude and at the Blessed Mother, are still roped, eliminating every other pew from being used. You are invited to use these pews.

Ministers of hospitality will be at the doors to remind you of these protocols.

Dear Friends,

I want to express my thanks to all those who offered congratulations, either verbally, by email or in cards, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Thank you for your kindness. I have to confess that I'm not a great one for birthdays and anniversaries. To me, 50 was one more than 49 and one less than 51. A Sister of Charity who once served as Chancellor of the Archdiocese said to me, "you are all prose and no poetry." I went to ordinations last Saturday, to be in the exact same place, on the exact same day as fifty years before, thinking I would be nostalgic and relive those moments, but, in fact, I spent more time thinking about those to be ordained that day, and what they would encounter in the years of their priesthood.

Dear Friends,

This past Tuesday I was out with a close friend, his wife, children and grandchildren, celebrating his 60th birthday and we were discussing, of course, the latest developments in the Covid saga. He is a manager of a large supermarket (not in the area) and they were scheduled to have an upper management discussion on the following Thursday (5/27) about where they go from here with the lifting of restrictions. Like them, the parish needs to have that same discussion. We have received general guidelines from the Archdiocese, developed along the lines of the Governor's latest protocols, but much has been left to the discretion of the pastor of each parish.

To be honest, on the one hand it's very simple; mask and social distancing requirements for those who have been vaccinated have been lifted. Ropes can come down, registration is no longer required, a person can choose to sit wherever they wish. On the other hand there are complications. We have been directed not to check for proof of vaccination. Should masked people sit in special sections of the church? Does wearing a mask imply no vaccination or can it simply mean that a vaccinated person who wants to come to mass is still not feeling comfortable without a mask? I'm sure you might think of others as well. If you have any thoughts, please let me know.

Dear Friends,

Thoughts that run through an idle mind:

-Undoubtedly you have had much discussion this past week about the latest in Covid guidelines from the CDC. And I am equally sure those conversations have been as divergent as the opinions of those engaged in them. For our State, particularly, they probably focus on the Governor who, to some, is holding us back from another step toward normalcy, as he has done throughout this pandemic. To others, he is perfectly right in his caution, despite what science seems to be saying (at least, according to the CDC) and his repeated calls to the coordination of the tristate area. While I am sure everyone has their opinion on his decisions, I think we all might agree on the fact that whenever it comes, a maskless world, with no social distancing, will not be accepted by everyone, including those who have already been vaccinated. I think we need to get used to that, and to respect our neighbors, on both sides of the reality. No one is making their decision out of meanness or harmfulness. Let's always try to operate out of that vision.

Dear Friends,

On the cover of this bulletin you will find our annual presentation of the names of our First Communicants for this year. The ninth and last celebration is being held this weekend for our 174 second and third graders (some delayed from last year) who have come to the Table of the Lord for the first time. What a great joy it is, or should be, for a parish to celebrate the First Communion of so many children and to be able to do it this year, on time, with increased numbers of family present (even if only by a little), and with added possibility of live-streaming for those who could not attend.

Dear Friends,

On things COVID
- There never seems to be an end to the need to relate COVID reminders. The usual ones are always still with us: masks, social distancing and the directionality of the floor traffic. Here's one I don't often remember to share. When you come to receive communion in the hand, there is sometimes a tendency to cup the palm of the hand into which the priest or minister will place the host. Please fight this tendency. Actually, the flatter the palm the better. When the palm is flat, it is easy for the priest or minister to place the host there, without touching your hand. The more you cup your hand, the more difficult it is to accomplish this. When approaching the priest or minister, please hold your hand with the palm as flat as possible. Thank you.

Dear Friends,

On some practical concerns:

-The Annual Appeal. I once again want to make the case for the Annual Appeal from the Archdiocese. I am sure you have read many times that these are tough days for charities. At a time when they are needed the most, support is difficult to find because so many are struggling with resources of their own. The Appeal falls into that same predicament. Many of the pastoral programs of the Archdiocese are funded from the Appeal, including the Archdiocesan support for Catholic Charities which has grown because of the number of fundraisers Charities has either had to cancel or re-model. My goal has always been to increase the number of parish households supporting the Appeal at whatever level. For all those who have not done so, especially those who may have given in the past, I invite you to join your fellow parishioners in supporting this "local" charity. The easiest way is to go to the Appeal icon on the homepage of the website and contribute electronically. Thank you for your support. An additional reason for contributing-the parish gets back 100% over goal as a rebate. And if you have been following the monthly reports, parish support continues to trail behind the 2019 figures.

Dear Friends,

On matters Covid. You may have noticed some new signs hanging on some of the pews in the church. The signs say RESERVED FOR 3 INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE (END-MIDDLE-END). And you may be asking, "Now what's that all about"? With the increase of attendance, but keeping with social distancing protocols, sometimes there are problems seating everyone. (A good problem.) This happens when too many individual attendees start a pew of their own. If too many do that, we may run out of room for larger groupings and families. This is especially true at the 9:30 and 11:00AM Sunday masses, which tend to be more family populated. By designating certain pews throughout the church, both in the main body and the transepts, as reserved for individual people, we are hoping to open more pews to the possibility of larger groups. Those designated pews are scattered throughout the church, as we know some like the front, some like the middle and some like the back. If you are one person attending, please accept our invitation to sit in one of those pews so we can grow our attendance.

Dear Friends,

Now that Easter is over, we look forward to spring, and all those celebrations which are part of the rites of spring, first communions, confirmations, graduations. None of them will be normal, with social distancing requirements, masks and capacity limitations in place just about everywhere. But at least they will be happening in person, in most cases. That's a far cry from last year when they were either postponed, as in the sacrament celebrations or held virtually, as in most graduations. The world is a brighter place this year.

I thought I would share with you the numbers of worshipers who came from Palm Sunday through Easter. The total attendance for Palm Sunday was 1,070. For Holy Thursday it was 197. For Good Friday it was 233 and for Easter Sunday, the total attendance, in both the church and auditorium was 1,227. In comparison to last year, during the lock down, when it is 10 and 10 and 10 and 10, we've come a long way. Last weekend, the first weekend after Easter was 887 which compares to 726, the weekend of March 20/21, the weekend before Palm Sunday. The world is a brighter place this year.


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