From Fr. Sakowski, Pastor – Important Update for St. Mary’s and St. Raymond’s – 05/21/21
As we celebrate Pentecost and welcome the unity the Holy Spirit brings, I have some important updates regarding COVID precautions in our parishes.
First, I want to say a huge “thank you!!” to our staff and volunteers. One year ago, Pentecost 2020, we resumed public Masses. There are at least 50 of you who have poured your hearts into challenging labor in order to ensure Mass being available, both in person and via livestream. We haven’t missed a single Mass! Except for that one Wednesday I overslept… Many, many times guests and first-time visitors have expressed their admiration and gratitude for our efforts to care well for everyone. Great work!
Secondly, we witnessed two important changes on Tuesday, in light of the latest recommendations of medical experts. Bishop Callahan issued the pastors a significant revision of his directives regarding the celebration of public Masses, loosening several restrictions. If you want to see a complete list of the new guidelines, go to the diocesan website at www.diolc.org. Meanwhile, locally, Eau Claire County lifted its mask mandate, as have most local businesses.
After deliberating with our Directors and Fr. Peter, here are changes you can expect to see, starting immediately:
(1) Regarding Masks
–Our two parishes will no longer require masks for visitors.
–Those not vaccinated are still strongly encouraged to wear masks. However, there will be no inquiries into who is or is not vaccinated.
–At the Saturday Masses (4pm and 6pm), we ask everyone to consider wearing a mask out of love of neighbor. A higher percentage of the participants at those Masses fall in the “at risk” category, and we want them to be safe and feel safe.
–During the distribution of Holy Communion at all Masses, Priests and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will continue wearing masks. We want anyone concerned or at risk to be safe and feel safe during Holy Communion.
–Our Catholic Schools and our 20+ health care facilities continue to require masks and distancing.
(2) Regarding Seating at Mass
–The left side (choir side) of the nave in each church will no longer have pews roped off. The right side will continue to have every other pew roped off.
–At our Saturday Masses (4pm and 6pm) we will continue to practice social distancing on both sides – unless/until the crowd size requires more seating. At that point, we may squeeze in more people on the left side. We want the Saturday evening Masses to have more precautions out of respect for those who want or need them.
–On Sunday (8:30, 11:00, and 1:00) the left side will be open seating without a distancing or masking requirement. The right side will continue to be distanced, with masks strongly encouraged.
(3) Other Precautions
–In obedience to Bishop Callahan, we will still refrain from exchanging the Sign of Peace
–In obedience to Bishop Callahan, we will still refrain from offering Communion from the chalice (exception: those with allergies who have already made arrangements with us).
–For now, we will watch and wait before making changes regarding the Offertory (Presentation of Gifts, taking up a collection, etc.). The ushers have enough on their plate at the moment!
–Our Staff will communicate directly with our various leaders and teams about more specific situations that may come up.
“Where Charity and Love Prevail, there God is ever found…”
It turns out that human beings are wonderfully different from each other. Some of you are eager to loosen restrictions, and others of you are nervous. God loves each of you, and so do I. Please love one another, be kind to one another, and respect each other in Christ.
Come Holy Spirit!!
Let’s Talk about the Vaccine
Read Father’s article about the Morality of the COVID vaccine here!
U.S. Bishops’ cite ethical problem with Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine The U.S. Bishops, citing the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, have judged that, if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. While the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna did use an abortion-derived cell line for testing, they did not use the problematic cell line in their vaccine development and production. By contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed, tested and produced with abortion-derived cell lines, raising additional moral concerns. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s. Sadly, when it comes to a number of vital vaccines–such as the one for Rubella–there is no other choice than either to make use of a tainted vaccine or to forgo vaccination altogether. For a broader discussion, visit diolc.org/respect-life and click on the tab for “COVID Vaccines-Ethics.”
Spiritual Communion Prayer
For those times when you cannot go to communion in person, please take the time to make a spiritual communion, praying for all the same blessings and graces from the Lord. You can use these or similar words:
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never
permit me to be separated from You.