Return to Mass

THE  CELEBRATION  OF  MASS  RETURNS
TO  SAINT  EUGENE!!


Archbishop Pérez has announced that parishes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will be able to resume public Masses the weekend of June 6 and 7.  I look forward to welcoming you back to Saint Eugene for the celebration of Mass.

While our county remains in the Yellow Phase of statewide reopening, all of us need to do our part to make sure that our return to Mass is a peaceful and safe experience for all. Please take the time to read the instructions below. We ask everyone to follow these guidelines when attending Mass during this period.

GENERAL POINTS

  • The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation continues to be lifted during the Yellow Phase. Therefore you are not required to attend Mass at this time.
  • Please stay home if you are sick.
  • Please stay home if you are at higher risk of severe illness with COVID19. If you are uncertain about your risk status, please consult your doctor and also the CDC Guidelines at the link below.
  • Mass will continue to be available via live-stream. For those of you who have been watching various ‘live streamed Masses’ (EWTN, etc.), such services continue to be available.

 MASS SCHEDULE at St. Eugene:

Saturday (Vigil) Mass @ 5:00pm, Sunday Masses @ 8:00am, 9:30am & 11:30am.

Monday thru Friday daily Masses @ 8:00am.

BEFORE COMING TO MASS

  • Please wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • Before entering the Church please put on a face mask or cloth covering. Exceptions to this are “children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, and anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance” (CDC Guidelines).
  • Please do not come to Mass if you are sick or are at higher risk for severe illness with COVID19 (see above).
  • Missalettes will not be in the pews during this period. You are welcome to bring your own missal/readings with you.

 ENTERING THE CHURCH

  • For now, you may use any of the doors to enter the church.
  • Hand sanitizers will be available at the Church entrances. Please use the hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting the Church.
  • For health reasons, Missalettes have been removed from the pews and will not be available.

SEATING

  • When taking your seat, please honor all posted signs about where you may sit. Every third pew will be open to ensure proper social distancing.
  • Members of the same household may sit together as normal. Please place 6 feet between your household and members of a different household.
  • Please remember that the use of a face mask or covering is required. If you choose not to wear a mask, we ask that you sit in the ‘cry room’ area.

DURING MASS

  • There will be no Sign of Peace during Mass during the Yellow Phase.
  • The choir will not be singing during the Yellow Phase; a single vocalist might be present.
  • The collection will be taken-up using the long handled collection baskets and/or you may place your envelope/donation in the small baskets located by the doors to the church.

RECEPTION OF HOLY COMMUNION

  • THERE WILL BE ONLY ONE COMMUNION LINE. Please follow directions as to when your pew will be invited forward to receive.
  • Please maintain social distancing in the Communion line. Please keep several pews between yourself and the person in front of you while in line and when returning to your pew.
  • During the Yellow Phase, the faithful are asked to receive Holy Communion in the hand.

If you prefer to receive ‘on the tongue’ there will be a separate Communion line established for this.  Please note that in this case, the priest/deacon giving Communion ‘on the tongue’ will be required to sanitize his hands after each communicant.

  • Please remove your mask before receiving Holy Communion.

EXITING THE CHURCH

  • At the conclusion of Mass, please exit the Church and proceed directly to your car. Please do not congregate for any reason.
  • You may pick-up a church bulletin if you wish, but they will not be distributed.
  • Please leave your mask on until you exit the Church.

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU

Saint Eugene Parish will follow the guidelines from the CDC for sanitation as we resume public Masses.

It is wonderful to finally be able to invite all of you back to your church, Saint Eugene, for the celebration of Mass and for the opportunity to receive Holy Communion!  With your understanding, patience and cooperation I feel confident that our celebration of the Mass will be a powerful experience, something we’ve missed for far too long!  Welcome back!

Fr. McDermott

 

 

Message May 22, 2020

7th Sunday of Easter, 2020

Dear parishioners and friends of Saint Eugene Parish;

If you want a ‘real shocker, look at a calendar!  It’s hard to believe that Pentecost Sunday is about one week away and with Pentecost comes the end of the Easter Season!  So, let’s see, due to the Covid–19 virus, not only did we miss out on celebrating Holy Week and Easter Sunday, but now it’s becoming very clear that we’ll miss celebrating the end of the entire Easter Season, Pentecost Sunday!  DOES THIS MEAN THAT WE’VE BEEN ROBBED OF EASTER and all that goes with it!

How have you been ‘coping’ with this health crisis?  Let’s continue to thank God for the dedication and courage shown by those in health care, public safety, transportation, essential retail, teachers, and others considered ‘essential’, who continue to work, ‘on the job’ and from home, to protect us and provide for our needs.  I know it’s been extremely difficult for those who have found themselves working reduced hours or unemployed, especially if you have others depending you.  Prayerfully, let us hope that this crisis comes to a healthy and safe ending very soon.

Back to that idea that somehow Easter has been stolen from us. How do you feel about that?  The name ‘Theodore Geisel’ comes to my mind.  Anyone recognize it?  It’s a name that I’m sure just about all of us have heard, but unless you are a teacher of young children or perhaps a parent, Theodore Geisel probably doesn’t ring a bell.  Well, maybe you know him by another name, Dr. Seuss!  (How on earth did Dr. Seuss come to my mind recently?  I guess it’s amazing how each of us deals with stress in different ways!).  I’ll bet we’ve all heard of some of his books: ‘Green eggs and Ham or ‘The Cat in the Hat’, but my ‘favorite’ is ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’!  It’s a story about the ‘Grinch’, a nasty, lonely, grumpy creature who hates to see happy people and decides to put an end to Christmas by stealing all the objects related to Christmas from the nice people of Whoville on Christmas Eve therefore ruining their joyful celebration of Christmas.  But the Grinch’s plan fails …. even though the people of Whoville lack all the external things that usually make-up a Christmas celebration, on Christmas Day they remain happy and celebrate a Christmas like no other!

Now what, you may ask, does a Christmas story have to do with us at Easter?  Well, come on, use some imagination!  Change the name ‘Grinch’ to ‘Covid-19’, change the season from Christmas to Easter, change the location from ‘Whoville’ to ‘St. Eugene Parish’!  Now, think about it, is it really true that Covid-19 has stolen Easter from us?  After all, we had no Holy Week (no Holy Thursday or Good Friday), no reading of the Passion (2 times!), no Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Mass, no family gatherings  …  but have we really been robbed of Easter?

Now in the end, the Grinch was unable to ‘steal Christmas’ from the good people of Whoville simply by stealing the externals that went with Christmas.  He hears the people joyfully proclaim:

CHRISTMAS DAY WILL ALWAYS BE, JUST AS LONG AS WE HAVE WE!

OK, now let’s make a change, and what do you have:

EASTER DAY WILL ALWAYS BE, JUST AS LONG AS WE HAVE WE!

            In the years ahead, when we think back on Easter 2020, and reflect upon how ‘different it was’, may we come to realize that in spite of it all, despite all we did not have, EASTER 2020 WAS AN AWESOME EASTER!  For Easter 2020 showed us, as a parish, that the truth of Easter is NOT in the externals; it’s in our hearts!  That for a person of faith, the truth of Easter is that because of the love that God has for each one of us, and through the workings of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we can enjoy the promise of Eternal Life and nothing, not even a Grinch or a virus, can ever take that away from us!  I hope you enjoyed a blessed and holy Easter!

 

God Bless You,

 

Fr. McDermott

Message May 15, 2020

6th Sunday of Easter, 2020

 

Dear parishioners and friends of Saint Eugene Parish;

 

I have been amazed and even humbled by the dedication and generosity of so many of you, the parishioners and friends of St. Eugene Parish, as shown by your faithful contributions dropped off at the rectory during these very difficult times!  The number of people who have signed-up for electronic giving has increased.  It has been truly overwhelming!  I am also aware that some of you are unable to contribute due to the financial difficulties you are experiencing during this health crisis.  Know that you are, and will always be, members of this parish!  All of you are in my prayers, please keep me in yours!

Another powerful event that demonstrated your faithfulness and resourcefulness took place the evening of Tuesday, May 12 beginning at 7:00pm.  Thanks to the efforts of members of our Parish Social Committee, we had the opportunity to participate in a Virtual Prayer Service!  Extra thanks to Mr. Matt MacDonald and Mrs. Maureen Naylor (and the whole social committee as well!) for this.  I think that there were somewhere close to 50 participants!  After the prayer service many enjoyed the opportunity to remain ‘on-line’ and greet parishioners they may not have seen for almost 2 months now!  It was almost like after the 5:00pm vigil Mass!

One question that is probable on many minds is WHEN, when will the churches be open for regularly scheduled Masses!  Once again I can only say that I know as much as you do … in other words, I don’t have an answer.  It’s up to our civic and church leaders, our governor and Archbishop, and to be honest, I don’t think they know!  Live streamed and taped Masses are ok, but sitting home watching TV is not quite the same as sitting in a pew, seeing fellow parishioners and praying together.  Anyone miss the Sunday homily? … even a boring one?  Some admit that they are surprised to feel an emptiness … as if something is missing … and of course what’s ‘missing’ is the Eucharist.  Watching a live streamed Mass is OK, but there’s no such thing as a ‘virtual’ Holy Communion/Eucharist.  It’s difficult to see anything ‘good’ coming out of this crisis, but it might be true that we’ll never again take for granted the wonder of the Eucharist!

Just a reminder – the Sacrament of Reconciliation (‘Confession’) is available every Saturday afternoon from 4:00pm – 4:30pm.  It is also possible to set-up an appointment for confession at other times during the week; feel free to call the rectory (610/626-2866) to set-up a time.

Beginning Monday, May 18th, St. Eugene Church will be open for private meditation and prayer, Monday thru Friday, 8:00am until 11:30am.  For security reasons, please enter and leave by the side entrance across from the rectory (other doors will remain locked).  Please do not use the school-side or main entrance doors.  Also, I must rely on your honesty and sense of responsibility to follow the standard guidelines regarding ‘gatherings’: please limit the number of people in the church at any one time to 10 people or less, please keep a ‘socially responsible’ distancing in choosing a seat, etc. etc.  And keep in mind that the Blessed Sacrament IS in the tabernacle!  Sit quietly, pray, meditate, look at the stained glass windows on either side of the sanctuary, focus on the tabernacle  …  He is truly there!

God bless you and I hope to ‘see you in church’ very soon!

Fr. McDermott

Message for May 8

5th Sunday of Easter, 2020

 

Dear parishioners and friends of Saint Eugene Parish;

 

May we continue to keep in our prayers all those who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis as well as all who have faithfully and courageously continued to work in various health care, public safety, education and retail operations.  By working together (following ‘stay at home’ directives, limiting gatherings, practicing social distancing, etc.) we will get through this!

Regarding the question ‘WHEN’ … when will we be able to gather for Mass and the Eucharist, I am sorry to say that I do not know the answer.  Like you, I anxiously await the decisions of our Archbishop, governor and other religious, medical and civic leaders as to when we can once again open our church for public worship.  What a wonderful day that will be!  Studying the history of our Catholic Church (as well as ‘faith’ in general), it becomes very obvious that periods of trial and suffering are almost always followed by periods of tremendous growth in faith on both a personal as well as general level.  One thing for sure, it will be a long time before we ever again take for granted the Mass and Sacraments!

One of the most powerful moments in my ordination to the priesthood was when I knelt before Cardinal Bevilacqua who placed his hands over mine, stared me in the eyes and asked: “Do you promise to be obedient to me and my successors?”  The two word answer, spoken by all who are ordained to the priesthood is, of course, I do.  (Isn’t that the same two word answer spoken in the Sacrament of Matrimony?).  It is a vow I’ve taken very seriously throughout my priesthood.  I mention this because I’ve been contacted by more than a few people recently wanting to know why I am not allowing daily and Sunday Masses in our church.  I’ve been told that “other pastors allow it.”  Well, I (as well as all pastors in the Archdiocese) have received written directives from Archbishop Perez (a successor to the Bishop who ordained me, and therefore a bishop whom I have promised to obey) which specifically state that “public Masses are prohibited until further notice.”  So, if you’ve found a parish that is hosting public daily and/or Sunday Masses, lucky you!  But please do not ask me why I do not permit such Masses.  I suggest that you instead ask the pastor of that parish why he IS permitting such Masses.  Keep in mind that he, like me, promised obedience to our bishop.  (We were also instructed to NOT distribute palm on Palm Sunday, and there’s a good reason for that   ….   but that’s another story).

Now, on a more positive note, I’d like to thank all of you who through your prayers, cards and, where possible, your financial contributions, have continued to support YOUR parish!  Your thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity are greatly appreciated!!  More proof that Saint Eugene is a wonderful parish and it’s the parishioners who make it so!

Oh, and in case you’ve overlooked it, this Sunday is Mother’s Day!!  May God bless all moms, living and deceased!  Another ‘casualty’ of the current health crisis is that we probably will not be able to celebrate our moms in a manner that they deserve.  May they all know our appreciation and love for being ‘a mom’!

By the way, have you noticed the ‘THANK YOU’ signs placed in front of our church?  It’s just a small gesture of appreciation from all of us at Saint Eugene Parish for the tremendous efforts of so many people working to ‘get us through this’!  Let’s all do our part, and don’t forget to pray!

Thank you, and may God continue to bless you!

 

Fr. McDermott

Message for May 1

Carnival Update

 

Our parish carnival has proven to be an enjoyable and financially successful social event for St. Eugene Parish.  What might surprise some is the tremendous amount of advance planning and work that takes place months before the actual date of the carnival.  Unfortunately the health crisis that has disrupted so much of our ‘normal’ daily routines has now impacted the parish carnival as well.  This coming June 10th we would have opened our 5th parish carnival!  However for a number of reasons, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have had to make the decision to cancel this years’ carnival.

By this time in years past, through the efforts of many volunteers, we would have secured donations and sponsorships from local business and individuals.  Due to ‘stay home’ directives and the closings of so many local businesses, this has not been possible.  There is a growing concern regarding the willingness of families to attend such a gathering, as well as concern for the health and safety of our volunteer workers.  Ordering the necessary food, game prizes and other related supplies, has proven difficult if not impossible.  Too much uncertainty remains regarding the timing and degree of the lifting of various state and local regulations.  Obtaining permits and licenses has become problematic as well.  For these and other reasons, the difficult decision has been made to cancel our parish carnival scheduled to begin June 10th.

Thank you for your understanding, and please, don’t give up … don’t despair!  Keep focused on the future when our lives will get back to some degree of ‘normalcy’!  Think ahead to next June; what a wonderful time we will have when the 5th St. Eugene Parish Carnival opens!

Message for April 23

Dear Parishioners of Saint Eugene Parish and Guests,

While it is true that Easter Sunday ended a little over 2 weeks ago, we are still in the ‘Easter Season’ and we will remain in the Easter Season until the evening of Pentecost Sunday, May 31.  And so it is still appropriate, despite the crisis we still face, to wish all of you a Holy Easter!  The ‘word of the day’ until May 31 should be ‘ALLELUIA’!  As we continue to work together to deal with, and eventually overcome, the challenges we all are facing, be they health, social or economic challenges, as people of faith we must never lose sight of the significance of Easter.  In our own sufferings let us remember that it was through the sufferings of Jesus Christ that any hope of eternal salvation became a reality.  All the more reason to make our ‘word of the day’ be ALLELUIA!

It is only the 3rd week of our Easter Season, but it is the 6th week of our coping with this COVID 19 Crisis.  Let us all keep in our prayers those who have suffered tragic consequences of this pandemic.  Whether you know it or not, in addition to the vast numbers of people throughout the world who have been made ill, and even died, because of this virus infection, some of our own parishioners, friends and neighbors are enduring various profound effects because of this crisis.  Some have had to ‘self-quarantine’ at home, others have been hospitalized, some have had to endure being cut-off from personal/hands on contact’ with loved ones in nursing facilities, and unfortunately some have had to deal with the death of a loved one.  Please keep all in your prayers!

Let us not forget the many of our family members, neighbors, friends, and even total strangers who have sacrificed their own safety and have shown such courage during these difficult times.  Those in the medical professions, public safety, community services, essential businesses, and transportation services.  We owe them so much gratitude!  Keep in mind (and prayers) our teachers who have shown such wonderful resourcefulness in adapting to a totally new approach to teaching our students.  The efforts and cooperation of families to adjust to these new demands, their willingness to become more involved in providing for the education of their children, has been truly amazing! Our students deserve recognition as well for their willingness to adapt to this totally new way of life.  Also, for all of us who have been willing to sacrifice during these difficult times: to respect the calls to ‘stay home’, to practice ‘social distancing’, use of face masks when venturing outside and  accept the need to limit gatherings – Thank You!  Your efforts and cooperation give meaning to the statement – together we will overcome this!

Some have asked, and may more probably want to ask, some variation of this question – why did God do this to us?  Well, part of the answer is this: God didn’t do this!  Never forget that Jesus Christ never promised any of us ‘an easy life’!  (I’ve found it interesting that when you consider all the saints of the Church, ‘patron saints’ for just about every aspect of human life, nowhere will you find the Patron Saint of the Easy Life!).  A simplified reason for the difficulties and challenges of life is this: Original Sin!  (Yes, it did happen and yes it does affect all of us; but more on that later … what a homily that’ll be!).  But out of the love God has for all of us, God did provide us with the ways and means of dealing with the inevitable challenges and difficulties of everyday life.  Among these we have each other, we have prayer, the graces of the Sacraments, and we have the gifts of wisdom and common sense.  We need to use them!

Someday, this too will pass!  Perhaps we’ve come to take for granted so many things in life, even life itself!  Someday, hopefully someday soon, we will again have the opportunities to celebrate the wonderful things in everyday life.  We will again be able to gather together to celebrate Mass, to receive the Eucharist, to offer thanksgiving to the God who makes all of this possible, even life itself!  And for this we should all proclaim: ALLELUIA!!

May God continue to bless all of you!  I will continue to pray for you, please continue to pray for me!!

Fr. McDermott

Message for April 12

Dear Parishioners of Saint Eugene Parish and Guests,

I thank all of you for the patience and understanding you have demonstrated over these past weeks.  Please know that I share the concerns and uncertainties that you are feeling during this crisis.  The loss of employment and income has become a reality for many of our families, our children are without the opportunities to continue their education in traditional ways, and our social interactions have been severely restricted, if not totally eliminated.  In addition, as people of faith, we must contend with closed churches and little or no access to our Sacraments.  Perhaps most disturbing of all is the fact that this year we will miss the opportunity to fully participate in the wondrous celebrations of Holy Week and Easter Sunday.  This has truly become a crisis of epic proportions, one that will require cooperation and sacrifice by all of us.

The Covid-19 Crisis has taken away so much from so many people.  But remember that there is one thing it cannot take from us, something that nothing can take from us, and that is our Faith!  True, at least temporarily, we may be deprived of the traditional ways of celebrating our Catholic Faith, but all that we profess to believe in remains as strong and as real as ever.  Beginning with Palm Sunday and continuing through Holy Week, culminating on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the most wonderful truth that by His suffering, Jesus Christ overcame death and opened for those who believe, the reality of eternal life!  For a true believer, for a true Catholic, our belief in Jesus Christ is not limited or confined to the insides of a building or the practice of rituals.  Worship comes from, and resides in, the very core of our being!  God hears our prayers no matter where we pray.

With God’s grace and using common sense we will get through this!  Until then we should stay home when possible and respectfully await the decisions of our civic and religious leaders as to the time when we can once again resume a more ‘normal’ routine.  What a wonderful day that will be when we can once again gather in our parish church to join in prayer and worship!  But this should not detract from the joy all of us should have in our hearts this Easter.  Never doubt or forget that Jesus Christ has risen and with that comes God’s offer of Eternal Life!

I wish all of you a joyful and safe Easter.  I will continue to hold you in my prayers and I respectfully ask that you continue to pray for me.

May God bless all of us,

Fr. Joseph McDermott

Message for April 3

Good Afternoon!

I’d like to provide you with this update and clarification on the Archdiocesan decision regarding Palm Sunday. In an effort to cooperate with state and local policies on limiting gatherings of people, ‘stay home orders’ and enforcing ‘social distancing’, the Archbishop has directed that the churches remain closed and all public Masses remain cancelled until further notice. This policy applies to this coming Sunday, Palm Sunday.

Also, the Archbishop has directed that palm NOT be distributed this Sunday. Pastors are to bless the palm in private, the palm is to be stored (preferably under refrigeration) until a later date when it will be made available to the parishioners.

I’d like to emphasize that these steps are being taken to protect the health and welfare of all of us. I agree with the Archbishop that all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, must cooperate and work together in our efforts to overcome this health crisis.

There have been NO limits placed on prayers! Please continue to pray at home; pray for our church, our nation and our community! If we all work together, we will get through this. I join you in eagerly awaiting the day when once again we can gather in our parish church, pray together and share in the Eucharist (and even receive our palm!).

Fr. McDermott

Message for March 27

Hello!

I want to thank all of you for your prayerful support, understanding and cooperation during these very difficult times!  My experiences (and I hope you have had yours) only serve to prove what I’ve come to believe: difficult and challenging times have the ability to bring out the best in all of us!

Please know that I am aware of the struggles many of you are facing.  The loss (or threat of loss) of employment and income, the profound changes in your daily routines, the need to procure child care, the anxiety many are experiencing and perhaps the unfortunate reality of finding out that a family member or friend has, or may have, contracted this virus.  You have been in my prayers and I ask for your prayers as well.

I am also profoundly aware of the effects and frustrations you feel due to the dramatic changes in Mass and devotion schedules here at St. Eugene.  It has become an extremely difficult challenge for me to balance your legitimate desires for access to your church and the Sacraments with the policies developed by the Archbishop, state and local officials regarding the response to the Covid-19 virus.  As difficult as many of these policies are, please keep in mind that they have been enacted to help insure our health and safety as well as the health and safety of all of our parishioners and community members.  I hope you can appreciate, as I do, the importance of limiting the number of people gathering for any purpose as well as the need for ‘social distancing’.  It would be a great tragedy if someone contracted the virus while attending a gathering in our church.  On a personal level, I’d have an extremely difficult time forgiving myself for having allowed such a gathering regardless of the purpose.  Guidelines provided by the Archdiocese have, in many instances, been contradictory and confusing.  Please understand that my decisions have been made with the utmost concern for your safety and health.

The recently issued directive from Archbishop Perez that prohibits ‘public’ celebration of Palm Sunday, the Holy Week and Easter Tridium Services (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) and Easter Sunday are nothing short of a tragedy for all of us.   Guidelines regarding the blessing of Palm and the Masses/Services related to the other aspects of the Easter Time are being worked out.  I will try to keep you informed of these developments.  A good source of information is the Archdiocesan website: www.archphila.org.  The ‘live-streaming’ of the Sunday Masses with Archbishop Perez is beautiful and very professionally done.  I apologize for the short notice, but this evening (Friday, 3/27/20) beginning at 6:00pm you have the opportunity to view Pope Francis offering a special ‘Urbi et Orbi Blessing’ as well as granting a Plenary Indulgence to all who view/participate.  To be streamed live on the Vatican News Service website: www.vaticannews.va

In the meantime, regarding Mass participation and opportunities for devotional activities, I strongly suggest that you investigate the many opportunities available ‘on-line’ for such activities.  It can be a profoundly spiritual experience to pray at home; alone or with family members.  Praying at home is something that many of us have not done in a long time; why not give it a try?!    We will get through all of this!  We have our faith, God is with us, and God hears our prayers!  Please ‘keep safe’ and keep praying for each other!  May God bless us all!

Fr. McDermott

Message for March 19

Hello!

I want to thank all of you for your prayerful support, understanding and cooperation during these very difficult times!  My experiences (and I hope you have had yours) only serve to prove what I’ve come to believe: difficult and challenging times have the ability to bring out the best in all of us!

Please know that I am aware of the struggles many of you are facing.  The loss (or threat of loss) of employment and income, the profound changes in your daily routines, the need to procure child care, the anxiety many are experiencing and perhaps the unfortunate reality of finding out that a family member or friend has, or may have, contracted this virus.  You have been in my prayers and I ask for your prayers as well.

I am also profoundly aware of the effects and frustrations you feel due to the dramatic changes in Mass and devotion schedules here at St. Eugene.  It has become an extremely difficult challenge for me to balance your legitimate desires for access to your church and the Sacraments with the policies developed by the Archbishop, state and local officials regarding the response to the Covid-19 virus.  As difficult as many of these policies are, please keep in mind that they have been enacted to help insure our health and safety as well as the health and safety of all of our parishioners and community members.  I hope you can appreciate, as I do, the importance of limiting the number of people gathering for any purpose as well as the need for ‘social distancing’.  It would be a great tragedy if someone contracted the virus while attending a gathering in our church.  On a personal level, I’d have an extremely difficult time forgiving myself for having allowed such a gathering regardless of the purpose.  Guidelines provided by the Archdiocese have, in many instances, been contradictory and confusing.  Please understand that my decisions have been made with the utmost concern for your safety and health.

The recently issued directive from Archbishop Perez that prohibits ‘public’ celebration of Palm Sunday, the Holy Week and Easter Tridium Services (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) and Easter Sunday are nothing short of a tragedy for all of us.   Guidelines regarding the blessing of Palm and the Masses/Services related to the other aspects of the Easter Time are being worked out.  I will try to keep you informed of these developments.  A good source of information is the Archdiocesan website: www.archphila.org.  The ‘live-streaming’ of the Sunday Masses with Archbishop Perez is beautiful and very professionally done.  I apologize for the short notice, but this evening (Friday, 3/27/20) beginning at 6:00pm you have the opportunity to view Pope Francis offering a special ‘Urbi et Orbi Blessing’ as well as granting a Plenary Indulgence to all who view/participate.  To be streamed live on the Vatican News Service website: www.vaticannews.va

In the meantime, regarding Mass participation and opportunities for devotional activities, I strongly suggest that you investigate the many opportunities available ‘on-line’ for such activities.  It can be a profoundly spiritual experience to pray at home; alone or with family members.  Praying at home is something that many of us have not done in a long time; why not give it a try?!    We will get through all of this!  We have our faith, God is with us, and God hears our prayers!  Please ‘keep safe’ and keep praying for each other!  May God bless us all!

Fr. McDermott