Important Message from Msgr. Benwell
May 18, 2020
“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Our Risen Lord,
I hope this letter finds you and your families enjoying peace and good health. As you may have heard or read, in conjunction with an executive order of our governor, effective today (May 18), Bishop Checchio has issued some new directives for the celebration of the Eucharist. These are small steps to be sure, but hopefully, we have started on the road back to what we knew before the pandemic, and for that, we should be thankful. At the same time, I want you to know that I have begun putting together a task force of parishioners to assist me with the implementation of these directives and others we will no doubt be receiving in the weeks to come.
Before going into the specifics of our response to the directives, I want to share with you some principles that will guide me—and I trust will guide you—as we start to open up our Masses and make it possible for parishioners to once again receive Holy Communion.
In all decisions my underlying goal will be the safety of our parishioners. What is imperative to me is that we do it right, not that we do it first. As I have said, the primary responsibility of a shepherd is to protect the flock (JOHN 10:10-15) Regardless of our personal feelings or piety, it is important—if we are truly to be a loving and Christian community—that we respect that many in our parish family remain very anxious about the virus. Parishioners have lost their lives and loved ones to the virus.
I know that even with access to the Eucharist as will be described below, many of you are still anxious about venturing out among crowds. That is a natural and legitimate attitude. Be at peace; the suspension of the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation remains in effect and daily and Sunday Masses will continue to be live-streamed until the pandemic is over.
Permission has been given for gatherings of parishioners in their cars during the celebration of Mass. We are going to have a trial run of such a gathering on
. (Mass on Sunday, May 24, will be live-streamed only.) During the coming week we will be working on the logistics of how this can be done and, especially, how Holy Communion can be distributed reverently and safely. And we will probably learn some things next Saturday.
There are several specifics I can share with you now: 1) since our parking lot is vast and irregularly shaped and not equipped with a sound system, Mass will be live-streamed from inside the church for you to watch in your cars via laptop computer, phone or tablet, 2) as you enter the parking lot, you will be met by members of our Knights of Columbus council, who will give you information about participating in the Mass and direct you to a parking space, 3) Holy Communion will be distributed in an orderly fashion at the conclusion of Mass as cars pass the front of the church or designated areas, 4) we will try to have an empty parking space on each side of every car, so that car windows can remain open, 5) you must remain in your car when receiving Holy Communion, 6) the Parish Center will be open for people to use the restrooms in cases of emergency. There will also be a box at the entry station to receive your weekly offering.
We have also received permission to celebrate Mass in church for gatherings of ten persons and less. Again, we are working on the logistics, such as how to maintain social distancing and sanitize pews and, again, the safe and reverent distribution of Holy Communion. Given the small number able to gather for daily Mass, these are the rules at this time.
Parishioners will be able to reserve a place at an upcoming Mass (Monday through Friday at 8 am) by calling the Parish Office (908-756-6524 x10) or emailing the Office at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One may register to attend
Mass per week.
There can be no exceptions.
One may register for only one Mass at a time.
There can be no exceptions
One may register for himself/herself and
other person per Mass, i.e., two persons total.
There can be no exceptions.
Daily Mass under the above conditions will begin the week of May 25. Additional instructions regarding safety precautions will be provided as they are finalized.
It is sometimes difficult to know the right thing to do in unprecedented circumstances, but by proceeding carefully and patiently, with the common good always in mind and with God’s help, I am confident St. Mary’s can successfully navigate the journey back to worshipping as a faith community again. Assuring you of my prayers and asking for a place in your own, I remain
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Msgr. William Benwell
on Monday, May 18 at 6:34PM