Saint Mary of the Assumption
Rev. Fr. Craig R. Eilerman
I rejoiced when I heard them say, let us go to the house of the Lord. These words from Psalm 122 have been echoing in my heart since I received the news that public Mass would again be offered after a hiatus of ten weeks. The doors of St. Mary Church will be open on the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 30 and 31 for all three of the Lord’s Day Masses, the 5:30 PM Vigil, 8:45 and 11:15 AM on Sunday.
As much as I have been longing for this day, the reopening of our church for public worship presents the challenge of doing so as safely as possible; COVID-19 has not gone away. The next phase of living with the Corona virus will be as challenging as the last ten weeks have been. Each of us will be making daily decisions as to the amount of risk we will take in exposing ourselves and others to the virus. As your pastor, I am keenly aware that by gathering in church the risk of exposing someone to the virus increases. Because of this risk, I want to make the church as safe of an environment as possible.
Bishop Brennan has sent out general guidelines to be followed when public Mass resumes, but he understands that each parish community and each church building presents its own challenges. I have formed a Returning to Public Mass Committee, which will review the Bishop’s guidelines and help me set procedures that we will follow at St. Mary. It is my hope that these procedures will be set by next weekend so they can be included in my May 24 letter.
One guideline that is being emphasized by health experts and which Bishop Brennan and I both strongly support is that those with existing health issues and those over the age of 70 should continue to avoid being around other people and should not attend public Mass. I know this will be extremely hard for many of you. Your love of God and your love of the Mass is exemplary, but the risk is too great. To this end, Bishop Brennan dispenses the Catholic faithful who reside in the Diocese of Columbus and all other Catholics currently in its territories from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass until September 13, 2020. We will continue to live-stream both the Sunday and daily Masses from St. Mary. The difference being is that we will resume our former Sunday and daily Mass times the first week of June. Even though Mass will no longer be celebrated every day at 10:00 AM, you will be able to participate by watching the Mass anytime you are able, as it will continue to be recorded.
These past ten weeks have been difficult for all of us, but during this later part of May, my thoughts are especially with the students that are graduating this year, be it from eighth grade, high school, or college. Congratulations to all of you. My prayers are with you as you start the next stage of your life. In today’s Gospel Jesus assures us that he will not leave us orphans. The Lord has been with us throughout this journey and he is not about to leave us now. We will get through this, and we will be stronger for it.
Let us continue to pray for one another and for those who are working to defeat the virus.