My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Masses have resumed in our churches in Brooklyn and Queens, with the required social distancing and other new health-related requirements such as wearing a face covering and social distancing. The reports of our people returning to Sunday Mass have been different throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn. I would say, given the limited capacity, that we have seen about 40 percent of people returning, which is encouraging.
As was said, the indult or the dispensation from the obligation of Sunday Eucharist is still in effect until such time as we can return to normal. This especially applies to people at increased risk as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. For these reasons, this group of people should take special precautions before returning to the Eucharist. When we cooperate together, the social distancing policy becomes a rule of social responsibility and concern for one another. We certainly show this concern as we return to Sunday Mass, and for some even weekday Masses.
Although the attendance at Mass has been lower as normally is the case during the summer, perhaps this year because of the innate fear of contagion, many people are continuing to view Mass on television, while continuing to contribute to their parish. I thank each of you for continuing to financially support your parish.
We are all aware of the economic turmoil in our city and our nation, and how this has affected so many families in our parishes. Your parish church needs your financial support now more than ever, and so I ask you each to do what you can to allow your parish to continue the vital ministries of spreading the message of Jesus Christ.
In order to be successful in the future, one of the new ways of giving that has been accomplished is “online giving.” The Diocese has been slow to adopt this, however, we see now that because of the pandemic many parishes are offering this to their parishioners.
Statistics from the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens show during COVID-19, we went from 63 parishes offering online giving to 156 parishes. Many of our parishioners have been very faithful in returning their envelopes by mail or simply dropping them off at the rectory so that the churches can continue their mission of serving our people, as well as being able to keep the staff, which is more necessary now given the health and sanitary requirements that need to be followed to keep us all safe.
During this time of the pandemic, we have learned many lessons. This is especially true for the many who have been affected by the virus, some with slight conditions, some with grave conditions, and some who, unfortunately, experienced a death in the family of a loved one. It is never easy to deal with illness and this insidious virus truly has tried our patience and ingenuity in trying to steer clear of the contagion. It is important that we all cooperate with the guidelines, so that this virus can be eliminated.
It is our hope and prayer that a vaccine will be developed in time to eliminate the continual transmission of this virus. We should remember that flu season is also coming. Although it is a different virus, flu shots are important, perhaps now more than ever, since we do not want to contract the coronavirus on top of the flu, which could get really complicated.
Clearly, we have put out into the deep waters of recognizing our human limitations, and the limitations of our government on all levels in trying to combat the pandemic, which has never been part of our experience. One of the good things that we have learned during these past months is a deepening of our faith and our confidence in the power of prayer. Remember, our Lord said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt. 18:20) And, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. (Jn 14:14) These are some of the most difficult teachings of Jesus that we must truly pray with all of our hearts and with indomitable faith that will lead us to receive what we need today.
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