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!