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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Many things to write about on this Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. First on the list should be the celebration that stands at the heart of this Sunday's liturgical activities. From reading the bulletin you know that the parish welcomed Gabriela Blacido who celebrated the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, at the Easter Vigil last weekend. She walked in the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the process by which adults prepared for baptism. But she didn't walk alone, others walked with her, some who were baptized Catholic but never completed their Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and Eucharist) and one who was baptized in another ecclesial community (Presbyterian in this case) but is now seeking admission into the Catholic Church. Today, at the 11:00AM Mass we celebrate those sacraments for these individuals, Jason Marquard, the Profession of Faith for full communion in the Catholic Church and, for him, and for Melanie Blacido, Diane Blacido, Rossy Gusman-Salzer, Mark Ramos, Roberto Piccininni and Conor Lynn, baptized Catholic, Confirmation and Eucharist. We rejoice with them and for the parish. We never live our faith alone, but in a community. And that faith is strengthened when we see others deepening that faith. In this case, we should be encouraged and strengthened by these seven baptized to experience the fullness of Christ's presence in their lives through the anointing with the Spirit and the reception of Jesus' very Body and Blood to strengthen them on their journey through life. Be inspired by their dedication and example and resolve to live that life of Christ more fully in your own lives.

The second thing to write about is, of course, a big thank you for the celebrations of these last two weeks. First, and foremost, I want to thank all who came for in-person worship this Holy Week and Easter Sunday. We have all struggled during this pandemic with a variety of fears, concerns and challenges. For us, who minister here in the parish, the question has been when, and even, if, the congregation would return to in-person worship. And to no one's surprise, it has been a slow slog for that return. A number of theories have been suggested; (1) people are still hesitant to be in a large group setting such as a church, or (2) people have become comfortable with "virtual" worship, attending in the comfort of home, or (3) people have lost a sense of the presence or need for God in their lives. We can always deal with the first two. It is the last one that concerns me most. Our faith is supported in community and by community. And "virtual" can never make up for the loss of that experience. And it is in the context of that community that we are strengthened in the belief that God is, that God knows us and loves us, that God is as Jesus Christ has revealed him and that in Jesus Christ God has given us the path of life. My prayer is that we never lose touch with that reality, no matter what challenges the world and our society throw at us. The days of Holy Week, the services we celebrated and, most especially, the celebrations of Easter Sunday give me hope that while we may have a distance to go, Mount Carmel is well on the way to recovery. Thank you who came for that. You have lifted my spirits.

Now to the usual acknowledgements. To all the volunteers and staff who helped make our Holy Week and Easter celebrations real reflections of our faith and moments to deepen that faith, a very big thank you. This includes the staff of the parish, maintenance, clerical, clergy, religious and lay. It includes all the volunteers on so many levels, the readers and Ministers of Holy Communion, the servers, the members of the choirs, the ushers and Ministers of Hospitality, the members of our Youth Ministry who helped in so many ways for the masses in the auditorium and all those who helped decorate the church. To everyone who in any way contributed to the beauty of the celebrations I offer a grateful thank you. In a special way, I want to recognize Fr. Frank and Peter Sicko. Fr. Frank is the recently arrived Parochial Vicar who is in charge of the liturgy and had responsibility for the flow of all the celebrations, not an easy task because they are so different from an ordinary Sunday Mass. As one person said to me, "they came off without a hitch." Thank you, Fr. Frank, for your attentiveness to all those details. And a word of thanks to Peter, who not only directs the music program for the parish, but has responsibility for the decorating of the church and the coordinating of all our media efforts, the live-streaming, and the worship aids, both on paper and on screen. Once again, thank you Peter, for all the hats that you wear.

Lastly, masks on, masks off, to mask or to unmask. The most pressing question in the month of April. As I write this, the DOJ will appeal the latest ruling from a federal judge on the requirements for masking on trains, planes and buses. Where that may end up (as in Supreme Court) is anyone's guess. You may remember a couple of weeks ago the Archdiocese basically rescinded all of its protocols and leaving them to the discretion of the local parishes. We also rescinded most of ours, leaving in place, at the time, the requirement that ministers of Holy Communion still wear a mask for its distribution. If there are no setbacks during this week, the Ministers of Holy Communion, both ordinary (priests and deacons) and Extraordinary Ministers (lay men and women) will have the option of distributing with or without a mask, starting next week. I checked the CDC website and it still says that close contact means fifteen minutes of face-to-face contact over a twenty-four hour period. Since contact at Communion is about 5 seconds, it would seem to me that the contact at that time is really minimal. And of course, all who come to worship have the same option for themselves as well. If there are any setbacks in the general population, we will adjust as needed. Let's hope and pray these are more steps to a "more normal" experience of living.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron


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