Last Sunday we had 20 children make their first communion here, and it was fantastic to see them and their parents, even under the strange and different circumstances we’ve known over these past several months. The behind-the-scenes planning for the day was excellent, with staff coming together to ensure that everyone had their temperature checked, had a mask, and stayed at a proper social distance. There were also procedures in place for receiving communion, and for entering and exiting the church. There is an enormous amount of effort and planning that goes into every liturgical event these days. Over these past few weeks, we have had weddings and funerals, and we will soon add communal baptisms. And we will continue with first communions at Mass – except for next weekend in which we will receive those adults who were to be welcomed into the Church at Easter. We hope to soon invite a limited number of people to mass outside in the columbarium garden as well.
In whatever planning we do, we realize that it will not add up to what we were before all this began. On a typical pre-virus weekend, St. Francis drew on average around 3,200 people at all five weekend Masses. Those weekends now seem long ago and far away. All churches now find themselves in the position of looking at everything differently: facilities use, scheduling, event planning, programming, pastoral care, sacraments, health and safety measures, and more. We are in transition to something we do not yet know. I know that these days are especially challenging for both of our schools, as we plan for the opening of a new school year in just a few weeks.
We will continue to keep you informed as to our planning, and please know that in all of our planning, safety and health remain priorities. For all services inside the church, we require masks. We hear sometimes in these days about “rights” not to wear a mask, with some saying that “no one can tell me to wear a mask.” Sometimes this is tied into religious rights, which is often misunderstood to mean “I can do whatever I want.” What’s missing in this is that religious liberty is never about “doing what I want” but is always tied into the common good, the wider community, and that is our approach here. We wear masks for the well-being of the people around us, as we together as a community of faith recognize the threat of a global pandemic, and do our part as a community to help ease that.
Thank you again to all those who contribute financially to St. Francis, either by signing up for Faith Direct (to sign up, call 866-507-8757, our parish ID is NC674), or by sending in donations via envelope to the parish. We are grateful.