Warm Sunday greetings to all, and I want to give an update on our plans for having mass again with people in the church. As you know we have been following guidelines from our civic leaders and from our bishop and have proceeded cautiously on re-opening our church. We have a task force which has been looking at all aspects of what reopening our church would look like. Health and safety, as always, remain priorities, and we have medical professionals advising us, along with members of our staff. We are now planning to have mass for the members of our RCIA who were to have been received into the church at Easter, and we plan to have that on Sunday, June 28th at 9:30am. This includes those to be baptized, and those receiving first communion and confirmation. There are about 30 in all. This mass will be for only that group – including family and sponsors, we expect around 120- 140 people in the church. We will have guidelines in place for distancing, masks, and any other measures to ensure health and safety.
After that weekend, our task force will evaluate how it goes, and if all goes well, and if we hear that the state of North Carolina can move safely into Phase 3, we will look to continue a Sunday morning 9:30 mass with a limited number of people in the church, based on social distancing requirements, and possibly more people outside in the columbarium garden. If we decide that we’re able to go forward with this, we would begin on Sunday, July 12th. Please note that these plans could change depending on conditions related to the virus. We will keep you informed.
Please also note that the Sunday 9:30 livestream will continue either way. It remains the best way we have to reach the most people, and we have heard from many who appreciate it, some from other states and even other countries. We did receive a generous donation from a member of the parish for better equipment for livestreaming, and we expect that to be installed sometime in the fall. Please also note that the bishop continues to waive the obligation to attend Sunday mass, which means, of course, that during this time of pandemic, you don’t have to come to mass.
Looking ahead, summer is here, and a quick update on the friars and our transition: our new pastor Msgr. Michael Clay begins here on September 1st, and he will have one associate, Fr. Jairo (High-row) Maldonado. Fr. Jairo is newly ordained, on June 6th here in Raleigh. They will both be visiting here soon to see the house and tour the parish.
For the friars, after September 1st Fr. Jim Sabak will continue to live in the house the friars are in now, but he will be working full-time (he’s now part-time) at the Diocese of Raleigh as Director of Worship. Fr. Steve Kluge and I will both be moving, and we expect to find out where we’re going sometime later in the summer. We have a team of volunteers working on a farewell event for the Franciscans, to be held sometime in August, and most likely virtual unless things change between now and then. We will keep you updated on that as well.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including my own father who’s been watching his son via livestream on Sundays, and who gained much admiration from many here when I talked one Sunday about how, at 85 years of age, he and his buddy Ed continue to ski every winter in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. A clear winter day at Wildcat, with good snow conditions, moderate temperatures, and blue skies, remains one of my images of what heaven must look like.