I. A Hearty Welcome Back! We have missed you! The last two months have been the most unique time I’ve ever experienced in my 44 years of priesthood in regard to Church and Sacraments. Father Sinoj and I are grateful to begin celebrating Mass publicly—with you! Welcome back! Since this is new for all of us, I ask for your patience, understanding, and kindness as we implement the guidelines for the common good. It will take time for all of us to get used to wearing a facial covering and practice physical distancing during our Eucharist, which is communal by nature.
Of course, I realize that many of you will choose not to come back just yet. Whatever your decision is, we will respect that decision. Your health and safety are of utmost importance. As you know, Bishop Medley has lifted the obligation for Sunday Mass until further notice. Please note our adjusted Mass schedule. Some may feel more comfortable participating in our 12:05 PM noon Mass, or the 9:00 PM Saturday daily Mass. Weekend Masses will be 5:00 PM Saturday (Vigil), and 8:00 AM & 11:00 AM on Sunday. (If we need to add the daily 7:00 AM Mass, we will do so if it is deemed necessary. At the present time cleaning the church with disinfectant after each liturgy is a challenge).
Beginning Saturday, May 23, we will be live streaming the 5:00 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. That streamed Mass will be archived, so that you can participate in that weekend Mass anytime afterward. You can access the livestream Mass by accessing from a computer or mobile device at: www.facebook.com/ststephencathedral/live.
We do need hospitality ministers to help seat people, and to direct the flow of traffic. We ask people to enter church from the porch doors or elevator (please reserve the elevator for those who are handicapped in some way). We will ask folks to exit through the church side doors after Mass. Those who need the elevator will be asked to stay until everyone has exited the side doors. Even if you have not served as a Hospitality Minister previously, we welcome your participation, and we’ll provide you with all the information you’ll need! Please contact the Parish Office if you can help.
II. A Day to Remember: Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of the summer season in the United States, while Labor Day (first Monday of September) marks its end. The Kentucky Derby is rescheduled for Saturday, September 5. Many people visit cemeteries, participate in Mass, and attend memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Especially if you know a loved one who has died while serving our country in the United States Armed Forces, I invite you to our 9:00 AM Memorial Day Mass on Monday, May 25. (There will be no 12:05 PM Mass on Memorial Day).
III. Wear RED for Pentecost: Next Sunday, May 31, we celebrate the birthday of the Church, the Church coming into being in this Pentecost moment. At that first gathering, Jesus’ friends experienced his Spirit in wind and fire, and that same Spirit “SPEAKS” to us. Through the Spirit, God has formed us into a community, an instrument for bringing life and love into our world. In Jesus breathing upon his disciples on that Easter night, the new life of the Spirit, the community of resurrection—the Church—takes flight. That same Spirit continues to “blow” through today’s Church to give life to our mission, especially during this coronavirus time: to preach the Gospel to every nation, to proclaim forgiveness in God’s name, to immerse all of humanity into the love of God manifested in Jesus resurrection. The liturgical color for Pentecost is red, representing the Holy Spirit; you are invited and encouraged to wear red to Mass the weekend of May 30-31, the Solemn Feast of Pentecost!
IV. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
FEAR OF THE LORD (Awe and Wonder)
What gifts have been given to me by God? For what gift do I need to pray?
V. The Fruits of the Spirit:
Charity Gentleness Patience
Generosity Peace Modesty
Joy Faithfulness Kindness
Self-control Goodness Chastity
Living as a missionary disciples of Jesus Christ implies that our lives will produce the above spiritual fruit. “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.” (credited to St. Francis of Assisi)
VI. Congratulations Father Stephen Than! Because of the large number of Catholic people in our Diocese from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Bishop Medley entered into an agreement with a bishop from that country, who graciously sent us two seminarians: Stephen Van Lal Than and Martin Ma Na Ling. They are pure gifts to us! On Saturday, May 23, Deacon Stephen Than was ordained a priest at Saint Stephen Cathedral. His ordination liturgy was live-streamed so that his family and friends from Myanmar could participate. Congratulations Fr. Stephen Than!