Crisis Update No. 11

The Sacred Triduum rites will be live-streamed according to the following schedule: Holy Thursday at 7 pm, Good Friday at 3 pm and the Night Vigil of Easter at 8:30 pm. Live-streaming is available both on the parish website under the “Divine Worship” tab, and on the parish Facebook pageEaster Sunday Mass will be live-streamed at 8 am.

The church is still open from 7 am to 7 pm. Solemn Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament will continue until Holy Thursday at 7 pm, and will resume Easter Sunday at 7 am. In keeping with the ancient practice of the Catholic Church, the tabernacle will be empty, its veil lifted and its candle extinguished on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Confession schedule for Good Friday: 9 am, 12 noon, 3 pm and 6 pm. Please arrive a few minutes before Confessions begin. Please use the tissue paper provided to open the door, place it beneath your hands at the prie-dieu (kneeler) and dispose of it afterwards. The Confession schedule returns to normal after Good Friday: Sundays @ 7:30 am, 10 am, 1:30 pm & 5:30 pm. Wednesdays @ 8:30 am & 6:30 pm. Fridays @ 8:30 am. Saturdays @ 8:30 am & 5 pm.

Please be aware that we’ve had several deaths over the past few days, for which we cannot now provide public funerals, although we are providing private burial rites. Please keep our recently departed parishioners in your prayers: Juan Pablo Hernandez, Bill Levins, Marie Wiest, Dorothy Brown and Laura Storch. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Saint Mary School: St. Mary’s School reopened on March 23rd, following Spring Break, with a new approach to teaching. Teachers have worked hard finding the best methods to ensure that students would be able to continue their studies through instruction via Zoom meetings, Google Classrooms, and other platforms. Parents and students rose to the challenge and after a few bumps in the road, “Learning at Home” is going smoothly. Students have core subjects as well as special classes, time to play inside/outside, and stay connected through daily Morning Prayers, Zoom meetings, and a fun video of the school made letting the students know they are missed. A few other fun things will be coming in the near future! We are blessed that the school has enough Chromebooks that all of our students in grades 1 – 8 have their own Chromebook and we were able to loan them out to those who needed them. Thank you, St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation, for the grant that enabled us to complete that project.

Youth Ministry: Our Director of Youth Ministry Omar Carmona has called all parish youth enrolled in youth ministry at least once since the lockdown began, and about half have stayed in communication with him via text messages. The needs they have range from not having a job anymore to getting ready to graduate next month! Today he had an online meeting with the youth of the parish. The struggle is to get youth engaged in wanting more online meetings, so please keep them in your prayers! As for the middle school youth group, Omar sent parents a work packet so as a family they have the opportunity to enjoy a Plants and Pillars (the name of our middle school youth ministry program) event-night as a family.

Hands of Christ Crisis Volunteers: The goal of the phone effort is to establish a link with our parishioners reassuring them that they are not alone during this time.  We want them to know that even though we can’t gather publicly, St. Mary Parish is with them in spirit and is available to offer and provide them assistance as needed.The call for phone volunteers resulted in 77 parishioners stepping forward to help  contact 1168 households currently listed as active in the parish data base.  Thanks to our phone volunteers, approximately 80% of the initial phone calls have been made. Phone volunteers have gone above and beyond in attempting to reach those on their list. A concern identified during this effort is that over time and with our transition from land-lines to cellular technology not everyone has updated their phone number with the church office.  For those parishioners whose phone numbers have been identified as “no longer in service”, a letter or postcard will be sent to the address on file in hopes of reaching them as well.

Medical masks initiative: Parishioner Karen Vacaliuc was featured in the Wall Street Journal. The total number of members in our “Sewing Friends Group” is 27.  We seem to be adding more sewers every week.  So far, the group has produced 729 masks.  That includes all the masks Karen Vacaliuc has made and sent to different people/facilities.  She started about a week before we formed the group.  It has been a great way to stay connect with friends, old and new. The filters are donated by Southeast Building Solutions of Oak Ridge.

Those of you who are continuing to make your financial contributions to the parish during this difficult time are very much appreciated by our staff who depended upon your generosity. For those who haven’t already done so, you can drop off your contributions in the office vestibule mail slot, or we encourage you to make online donations.

Please see previous posts for earlier updates which are still in effect.

Saint Joseph Food Pantry volunteers getting ready to feed the hungry, with modified procedures.