THE “NEW NORMAL”

It is already September.  Where has summer gone?  The last several months have been very challenging, difficult and busy in so many different ways.  The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives and has made us look at what we do and why we do it.

We have been forced to shift, pivot, adapt and change.  None of this is easy and we still have a ways to go before this is over.  Despite the challenges and struggles, I am hopeful that we have all had a chance to take a look at things, accepting this opportunity to see what needs to change, what we need to let go and what we need to now embrace so that our lives, our society and our world can be a better place.  We are definitely in a time of establishing a “new normal”.

PARISH LIFE—THE SAME….. BUT DIFFERENT

We at the parish have had to adapt and adjust so that we can effectively and powerfully serve parishioners but also reach out to those who have been seeking a better way to live by encountering Christ.  This is why the parish staff has been working non-stop from the very first days of the pandemic to proclaim and reach out even more to a world that had gone silent in so many ways that the voice of the Lord could be much more easily heard.

The parish staff has had to adapt, shift and learn new skills so that we can still build community, pray together and be filled with God’s grace.  I am extremely thankful for their hard work, dedication and extra effort to push forward and seek out new ways to convey the Gospel.  The message has never changed, but during this pandemic, the methods used have been different.

(1) MORE ONLINE MINISTRY

Due to the lockdown and even today, as we have limited opportunities to be together physically, the parish has offered great ways to pray online and to gather for conversation.  We had a special Holy Week series called AN UNKNOWN PATH TO EASTER, COME FROM AWAY online faith conversations, ROMAN ROADHOUSE speaker series, SEASONS OF HOPE bereavement prayer support sessions, ONLINE PILGRIMAGES to Poland, the Holy Land and Italy (coming in September). We are also going to host a monthly CONCERT SERIES beginning at the end of September.

We have added more prayer opportunities with a number of online  prayer experiences:

– ROSARY
– LITANY OF HOPE
– LITANY OF COMPASSION
– LITANY OF LORETO
– LITANY TO THE EUCHARIST
– LITANY TO THE SACRED HEART
– WAY OF THE CROSS
– ST. JOHN PAUL II PRAYER SERIES – LECTIO DIVINA
– TED RETREAT
– ST. PEREGRINE NOVENA
– UNDOER OF KNOTS NOVENA

We have more opportunities to come so that we can build up the faith of our parish family but also reach out to those who long for more in life!!

(2) LIVE-STREAM & PHONE-STREAM

In addition to all of the special prayer services mentioned above, we continue to live-stream and phone-stream our weekday and weekend Masses.  We have many people who cannot make it to Mass or don’t feel comfortable right now to join us at the parish.  They truly appreciate the opportunity to connect.  We have also had a number of Catholics from other parishes in the diocese, province and the world pray with us during this challenging time.  We literally reach thousands of people and many who may have never taken the time to stop, pray and reflect!!

We also introduced PHONE-STREAMING for those who do not have the internet or are truly challenged by modern technology.  This service will call you when we are live with Mass, devotions or special celebrations.  This is great for the elderly, those in nursing homes and the homebound.  What a wonderful way to use old technology in a new way to help with those who feel isolated, disconnected and cannot be with us at the parish.  This is a free service for all — to register please call 226-781-7977 and press “1” to subscribe.

(3) THE SACRAMENTS

The parish staff, along with the Parish Pastoral Council and the Finance Committee have been meeting online and offering input, guidance and support.  For now, while the restrictions are in place, we continue to adapt so that everyone may be spiritually supported and build community.  Here are some updates:

WEEKEND MASS—We continue to see increased numbers and different people attending weekend Masses.  This is great news and we continue to monitor the need to add a Mass if necessary.  Live-streaming and phone-stream has helped people connect.

WEEKDAY MASS—We are planning to open up one of the weekday night Masses very soon.  Beginning in September, the Tuesday night and Thursday night celebrations will be open for First Communion families.  Live-streaming and phone-streaming has helped people connect.

CONFESSIONS—We will be setting up regular individual confession times with proper safety precautions later in September.  This will take place on Wednesday nights.  We just need to arrange volunteers to assist.

BAPTISMS—We are slowly catching up with our backlog of children to be baptized.  We schedule celebrations on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  We are grateful to the amazing volunteers who help register, usher and clean the parish facility for each event.  Live-streaming has helped families and loved ones connect with these special celebrations.

WEDDINGS—We have celebrated a number of weddings now that we are able to gather with limited seating.  The bride and the groom have adjusted their plans to ensure a faith-filled celebration even though it is not what they had planned.  Thanks again to our volunteers for their hard work.  Live-streaming has helped those who could not attend to be part of the celebration.

FUNERALS—Like all the other events at the parish, our funeral Masses needed to adapt to the “new normal”.  Our volunteers make it very meaningful and our live-stream capabilities offer those a chance to stay connected during these difficult celebrations.

ALIVE, ACTIVE & GROWING

Our parish is really alive, active and growing in so many ways.  We have not stopped praying, serving and reaching out.  We are just doing it in a different way.  The same parish using new ways to share the Gospel.