As I write this on Tuesday evening July 14th, I hope that as you read these words we will have 20 children making their first communion in church this Sunday. With the way things are going, we never know. But we have a very good plan in place for inviting these children and their parents into the church, at a social distance, with masks, with plenty of hand sanitizer, and with procedures for giving and receiving communion. We are continuing to look at ways we can gradually open up in the coming weeks and as always we will keep you informed.
Please note also that all parish events have been cancelled through Labor Day. Due to virus concerns, we had not scheduled anything anyway, but we decided to formalize it this past week. The reason for this is that our focus in these next several weeks is on 1) church events such as mass, funerals, weddings, baptisms, all of which now require far more preparation and planning than ever before, 2) we are preparing for both our school and preschool to re-open in August (19th for TFS, 24th for the preschool) and we are looking into the use of church meeting space for the schools. I know just from being here during the week that there is an enormous amount of effort and planning going into everything right now, and so we need to clear the decks in preparation for the fall.
A quick note on all of this: many of you have questions about why we are planning to reopen, or why we are not planning to reopen. We are receiving all of the questions. We have staff involved and we have medical professionals involved in helping us to sort through all of it. We are being cautious and responsible in all of our discussions, and will keep you informed about any decisions.
We received sad news over the Fourth of July weekend that one of our friars, Fr. Chris Posch, who was pastor at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, MD, died on Sunday, July 5th. Chris had been in the hospital for several weeks with Covid symptoms, though he tested negative for the virus. Chris was 58 years old. We were able to see the funeral service at St. Camillus via livestream. We also send out our condolences to our Franciscan friends at the Duke Newman Center in Durham, as the associate friar there, Fr. Brad Heckathorne, died last week. Brad was a Conventual friar, a different branch from the three of us here, and we would often see each other at diocesan gatherings. These are sad and anxious days for many, and we continue to trust in a God of hope and a God of horizons, with us always.