I pray every day for your welfare, and look forward to the day when I can see all of your faces again. I have a few updates for you, and some explanations, in no particular order.
Using the Parking Lot
You will have noticed the caution tape stretching from the school to the chain link fence closing off the back part of the parking lot. I am not trying to keep people away, but there were large groups of kids playing basketball there, breaking the social distancing guidelines. The city leaders wanted to break that up. If some of you younger parents want to bring your little ones up to ride their bikes, that is OK; just be aware of the work being done on the school in the lower lot, and come with just your immediate families.
Speaking of the work in the lower lot, we are taking advantage of the school building being closed to have the doors into the lower classrooms replaced. The doors were not opening well, and the fire department wanted us to replace them.
Thanks to all of you, who are either giving on-line or dropping off or mailing envelopes in. Last week Leigh Ann told me that we received about $14,000.00 in offertory. Our average is, I think, around $17,000.00, so we were pretty close. We still have bills and payroll to meet.
Speaking of that, I have not laid anyone off. Our teachers, of course, are still teaching, but our other employees are working in some fashion, either from home or coming in once/week, or both. Parish employees are permitted by Bishop Foys to come in on a limited basis, as long as certain qualifications are met. Dale Henson, the CFO of the diocese, is working with the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) to ascertain whether and how much assistance is available to us from the latest stimulus package passed by Congress.
If you need help of any kind, please do not hesitate to call me. We have some money set aside for what we call “Social Concerns”, and individual parishioners have called me to offer money for anyone in need. No one except office personnel need to know you have been helped.
There are needs other than financial that can arise at a time like this. Yesterday I heard on NPR that in some places domestic abuse calls have risen significantly. This is not pleasant to talk about, but if you are experiencing abuse or know someone who is, or if you are feeling the walls close in, anger rising in you, and are worried about how you are reacting, please, please, call appropriate people. If you want to call me, do not hesitate. I am not a professional in this area, but I can help you until we get you connected to the appropriate people.
If you are simply feeling anxious or worried or upset in any other way, again, feel free to call me, any time. You are not alone.
School and CCD update:
1) The school building is closed through 1 May. At-home instruction will be suspended for Spring Break from today, 7 April, through Friday 17 April; it will resume on Monday, 20 April. I am extremely grateful to our teachers and school staff, who have adopted an entirely new method of teaching. I am proud of you parents, who are taking on the additional burden of home instruction. CCD instruction will, of course, also continue to be discontinued (sorry, I couldn’t resist the phrasing) during this time.
2) Bishop Foys announced that all confirmations scheduled after Easter are canceled. We are discussing how we can make them up.
3) I do not know what will happen with First Holy Communion. At the moment it is not canceled, but I am not sure it will happen, either. I will update you as I can.
4) Ms. Scherer and I have been discussing how the children will fulfill their service hour expectations. As you know, the children’s service hours are divided into Home, Parish and Community. Here is what I have decided:
Home There is no reason why the children cannot complete their home service hours, so those requirements should be completed.
Parish As I pondered this area, I thought of how we distinguish between corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Most service hours are done physically, the equivalent of corporal works. Why not turn these works into spiritual works? So any Parish service hours can be gained by the following:
½ of a service hour can be gained by writing a card of greeting or encouragement to someone in the parish. If your child has begun to do this already, that will count.
1 service hour can be gained by praying a rosary or the Stations of the Cross, asking God to give the graces to a person of the child’s choice.
2 service hours can be gained by actively and attentively watching a televised Mass. There are two caveats to this. First, it must be an “extra” Mass; in other words, beyond a Sunday Mass. Second, the students must truly watch actively and attentively. Mass just can’t be on in the background as they eat lunch or do homework or play Monopoly (Am I dating myself? Do kids still play Monopoly?).
Community Since the purpose of staying home and social distancing is to benefit the community by trying to slow the infection rate of the virus in the community, I am going to consider all Community service hour requirements as fulfilled.
Grocery Bag Project
The grocery bags and/or checks made out to the individual agencies must be here by this Thursday, Holy Thursday. Bags can be put in the back of church and checks can be put in the mail slot next to the parish office door. We are not gathering as we usually do to deliver the bags. Instead, people from each agency are coming here Friday morning in staggered intervals to pick up your gifts.
Holy Week Services
As you know, all Holy Week services will be closed to the public. Many people will be live-streaming them, including Bishop Foys. Information about times and channels is on the diocesan website, covdio.org. I have decided to live-stream Easter Sunday Mass at 10:00 a.m. Ken Farney has generously offered his equipment, expertise and time to make this possible. As you know, I have been taping homilies for each day, knowing that there were many places you could watch a live-streamed Mass, but I thought it would be a special treat for you to at least see Mass celebrated in your own parish.
In my homily the Sunday this was all beginning to break, I mentioned that crises can bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. I have seen so many examples of the best coming out in these weeks. Older parishioners I have called to check on have told me of the cards they have received from our children, cards that have brightened their day. We have all been lifted up by the cross Tim Reynolds put outside. Megan Josten had the idea to commission the fourteen Stations of the Cross and set them up in different places around town on Good Friday, so that any who wanted could, while still maintaining social safety, pray the stations from their cars. Quite a few parishioners contributed money to pay the artist who is creating them. I cannot mention everyone here, but it makes me think of the first President Bush’s “thousand points of light.” Yes, we are in a certain kind of darkness now, but these points of light are making the darkness brighter. Keep up the good work.
Finally, I thank all of you who have shown concern for me in so many ways. I am confident of your prayers and am grateful for the e-mails and cards you have taken the time to write and send. I am very fortunate among our Covington priests.
Have a blessed Holy Week and let’s continue to pray for each other.