COVID-19 Status Report
It has been six months now since the “Coronavirus Cloud” has covered the earth. I
would like to give you a status report of the parish life here at St. Peter’s at this point in time.
Now that Labor Day is behind us and there seems to be a gradual loosening of restrictions, we will be monitoring our weekend Mass attendance carefully. Should there be an increase in attendance, warranting a third Sunday morning Mass, we will add one. I will keep you posted on this matter!
Regarding the Sunday Evening Mass, the 6:45 a.m. weekday Mass, and exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, there are no immediate plans to reinstitute them, although this is ultimately our goal. Likewise, there are no plans to resume bingo, indoor sports, formal Youth Group meetings, social events, etc., in the near future.
The rational for deferring these and other standard pre-COVID parish activities is as
follows. We are in Phase One of the COVID response with no evidence that we are about to enter the next phase. In the latest diocesan update of Phase One (September 11, 2020), the restrictions on indoor gatherings include a 25% maximum, (30% in church) six-foot distancing, masks, hand sanitizing, the sanitizing of all surfaces of contact, and a prohibition on all communal food and beverage services. Altar servers are still on hold. The sanitizing of surfaces requires a competent team of volunteers to be readily available to accomplish this after every event. All of these requirements make parish gatherings other than Mass impractical for now.
You may have noticed that many people have yet to return to work. The roads are
sparsely occupied during the former morning and evening rush hours. Also, there is very little traffic after 7:00 p.m. When darkness sets in as we approach the fall and winter, this will become more pronounced, as people stay safely at home in the evenings. Thus, evening Masses and meetings will not be opportune. One exception to this will be our Forty Hours devotions on October 4, 5, and 6.
A few have inquired about regular exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in church
during the day. Except for immediately after the weekday Mass, when I stop over to church at various times, I see one, two, maybe three people praying; often none. It is usually the same people. This has been the case for the past four months. The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly and really present in the tabernacle. Few people have come to visit Him. This clearly indicates that there is no reason to risk exposing the Blessed Sacrament at this point in time.
The greatest factor for not resuming many of our activities is that certain experts are predicting a second wave of COVID-19 this fall and winter. It is simply not advisable to re-start our activities with this possibility looming. To re-start and shutdown our programs would be imprudent and most disheartening. Similarly, parish planning for the immediate future is not possible until we see if the second wave materializes.
Regarding parish finances, as many people are out of work or watch Mass at home
our collection is off. Our parish employees are a long way from their pre-COVID hours and wage levels, including myself. Because we have striven to be very cost-conscious, and because many parishioners have graciously come forward with their time, talent and treasure, we are holding our own. But, please continue to be as generous as possible to your parish.
With immense gratitude,
Fr. Tim Byerley