Today, December 13, 1:30-3:30pm, you are invited to drive onto our church parking lot and rejoice a bit with us as we celebrate Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. From the safety of your vehicles you will be able to pick up three gifts from the three clergy here at St. Francis. While some have jokingly referred to us as the three wise men offering three gifts, three wise guys might be closer to the mark. Fr. Jim will offer the passengers in each vehicle some blessed straw and holy water to be used in your home crèche. Fr. Jairo will offer a small bell to each person in your vehicle to be rung during various times during our livestream Masses or at the church during the Christmas season (e.g., when the word “Glory” is mentioned at Mass). I will offer you a piece of chalk and a prayer that you may use to bless your home on the feast of the Epiphany on January 3. This is a small and safe way for us to connect during this Advent-Christmas time. All safety protocols will be followed by those packaging and handling these gifts.
“WOW!” is the only word that comes to me as I learned of your generosity for this year’s Advent Giving Tree Project. As of late Thursday, the following had been donated: 350+ gifts, 350 gift cards, 80+ boxes of diapers and wipes, and $11,000 + in financial donations. Your generosity exceeded our wildest dreams and the entire staff joins me in thanking you for your contributions to a most successful Advent Giving Tree Project. As Jesus would say, “Well done, good and faithful servants!”
We are looking at how we will celebrate the Christmas liturgies this year and have concluded that we must remain especially prudent as COVID-19 cases are spiking upward. To that end and upon the input of the Liturgy Task Force, comprised of several parishioners working in health care, and those involved on our staff in planning the Christmas liturgies, we have decided to have only three in-person Masses (200 maximum, our current limit), all of which will be livestreamed. Staffing more than three is proving difficult as more and more people are making decisions to remain home for the holidays. The Masses will be as follows: 4:00pm Christmas Eve Mass (geared to children); 10:00pm Christmas Eve Mass (with special music); and 10:00am Christmas Day Mass. More details will be found soon on our website.
Beginning Monday, January 4, we will adjust the way we set up requests for remembering family, friends, fellow parishioners, and others in both the Prayers of the Faithful and Masses. For the Prayers of the Faithful, we will mention only the names you submit in the petitions that are read aloud at Mass. To maintain our longstanding practice, we will also place those names and those related to them, who are our parishioners, on our parish website. The current tradition will continue, just in a different way. In addition, we will also inaugurate a formal Mass Intention process on the same day. Requesting Masses specifically for someone, living or deceased, is a venerable tradition and an exercise of your baptismal priesthood, something you received at your baptism, that calls you to pray and intercede on behalf of others to the Lord. There are many ways to exercise this expression of your baptismal priesthood, but requesting a Mass to be celebrated for someone is a venerable tradition since the Mass is our highest form of prayer and worship. Please see the parish website for how you may request Masses to be celebrated for a particular intention. A link will appear very soon for both types of requests.