Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Bishop Weisenburger, in an email to all priests and deacons of our Diocese, shares the following:
“We now have a second parish where the pastor and several parish staff members have tested positive for Covid-19. That parish also is now closed for a minimum of two weeks.
"Despite national and local upward trends in Coronavirus infections, please be informed that there is no change to the Phase 2 liturgical protocols at this time. (By this, he means that the way in which we celebrate the Sunday Masses as well as the Saturday drive through reception of Holy Communion can continue as we have been doing them.)
"However, as of today (10/29/2020) I am suspending all in-person meetings on parish property (inside as well as outside meetings). The only exception is for meetings of parish staff, when staff members are already working on site.”
Bishop Weisenburger continues, “Allow me to note that I share the frustration that many of you feel. As noted above, my motivation is the greater good of hoping to keep our churches open for Sacramental celebrations, so critical for the life of the Church. I also would note that the outbreaks we have witnessed appear to be associated with in-person meetings and not persons simply participating at Mass.
"It cannot be denied that the aggressive use of facemasks and social distancing works. Along with prayer, keeping these protocols firmly in every parish is our best hope for remaining open for Sacramental celebrations.
"I am truly proud of how well we have come thus far. Let us continue to work together to keep our people safe, healthy, and spiritually nourished. As always, be assured of my prayers.”
I believe that what our bishop has written is quite clear. However, if you have any questions about these vital decisions, please feel free to contact me either by phone or via email. Please know as well that I completely agree with Bishop Weisenburger’s decisions and will implement them accordingly.
For several weeks I’ve been wanting to include a few words of public gratitude for Fr. Marty’s generous ministry to our parish. When Bishop Weisenburger and I visited several weeks ago about partially reopening St. Frances Cabrini, he told me that he was aware that I had a number of health issues, which along with my age, precluded me from publicly celebrating the Mass with our community. He encouraged me to reach out to any of our retired or religious priests who are in good health and would be willing to minister to our parish. Fr. Marty was more than willing to step forward, and I cannot tell you how thankful I continue to be for his generosity. As many of you know, Fr. Marty was one of my instructors and spiritual advisors when I was in seminary, and while I have come to profoundly appreciate his friendship and support of me personally, I’m even more thankful for his deep spirituality, insights and wisdom gained over the years of his ordained ministry. He has had an incredible influence not only upon my life, but upon the lives of many of our younger priests whom he taught while on the faculty at Mundelein Seminary. Priests serve out of their love for God and His People, and so often they joyfully serve in spite of receiving scant appreciation and affirmation for their ministry. I don’t ever want to be guilty of that, and I would encourage all of you to join me in expressing appreciation for Fr. Marty’s ministry to us. I look forward to the times when we don’t have to keep “socially distanced” so you can get to know this good man and faithful priest on a more personal level.
Just this little thought from our Gospel reading this weekend: those who are blessed are the ones who were putting their best effort into being what they are being called to be. I am blessed not because I hunger and thirst for righteousness, but when I seek with my whole being to feast upon and drink in what righteousness means, and then I put it to work in my life. I am blessed when I don’t just have beautiful thoughts about mercy, but rather, when I actually put mercy to work in my life – when I exercise it towards another. I am blessed when I actively keep polluting influences out of my heart in order that I can have a clean heart before God. I am blessed when I can make for peace between myself and others or when I live in a spirit of peace so that when others come into my presence, they experience God’s peace emanating from my life. That last thought has been particularly important to me for many years, since the days when I worked a little bit among the Navajo (Dineh) people. They speak of “walking in beauty.” It’s a way of living so that everything about the person who is thus described is beautiful. He/she speaks in beauty. He/she cares for others in beauty. He/she literally clothes themselves in beauty. Substitute the word “peace” for “beauty” and it can have deep impact upon your life. We all seek God’s blessing. Perhaps walking in these qualities, clothing ourselves in them, is a way to receive His blessings.
I hope you have a gentle week. I hope that this finds you well-encouraged in the things that draw us closer to the heart of God and which help to assure us of the life that is yet to come.
With deepest brotherly love in Christ,