Pastoral Letter as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues
I hope that you and your family have had health and stable lives over the past several months. As I happily run into people while walking the neighborhood and other chance encounters, everyone wants to know how the parish is doing. Especially now that things are beginning to reopen and knowing that our email distribution list reaches most but certainly not all of our members, I wanted to write a general update to the entire parish.
At the end of May on the feast of Pentecost, all Catholic churches in Ohio resumed public Masses. The general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains for the time being; no one should feel that they have to come to Mass, especially those in higher risk categories for covid-19. But please know that we are taking every safety measure that we reasonably can. Masks are required, seating is limited and separated so that there is six feet between households, anyone with symptoms of any illness is asked to stay home, and the building is sanitized after each Mass. With overflow seating in the Social Hall and Gym, we should be able to accommodate however many people come. We are also continuing to live stream the Sunday 11:00am Mass and our weekday Masses on our parish Facebook page.
I am grateful that our city has not had a severe outbreak like other places in the country and the world, but the past few months have not been without loss. I know of two parishioners who contracted covid-19 from their place of work and were severe enough to be hospitalized and put on ventilators; they have thankfully recovered but have long roads of rehab ahead. Another parishioner tragically lost her husband of almost fifty years. Many other families had at least some symptoms and needed to remain strictly quarantined for a time.
Tragic in another way is the hardship faced by parishioners who have lost jobs or face other economic hardships. I remind you again that the parish has limited funds available if you are in need. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Much to my relief the parish itself has so far managed to avoid laying off any of our own employees.
During the period when we had no Masses, the weekly offertory collection decreased by about thirty percent. I cannot thank you enough for your financial support and your commitment to make your usual contributions. I had feared that without Masses the collection would have been much lower. Collections have begun to improve since we resumed Masses, and your continued support will allow us to remain a strong parish community. We also had to indefinitely suspend our fundraising plans to support the school’s new STREAM lab, which while the renovation is paid for, we will need in the years ahead to restore the savings we used to accomplish that project and make sure the school’s endowment reaches our funding goals. And of course our 75th anniversary celebrations might very well turn into a 75th+1 celebration.
Overall, while the fiscal year will not conclude until the end of June and we only have estimates for what the final accounting numbers will be, right now it looks like the parish as a whole will end the year with roughly a $75,000 deficit. Again, considering that we did a major renovation of a building and had to close the doors because of a pandemic, I am beyond happy that this storm of events did not hit us harder. Our usual fiscal report will be released sometime in the fall, as always. (over)
Like all of you, I do not know what the summer, the fall, and the months beyond will bring. I expect our collection will still be reduced for some time. We are waiting to hear from the State of Ohio and from the Diocese of Cleveland to know what the next school year will look like. Parish groups are making good use of our outdoor pavilion, but almost nothing can be planned with certainty more than a few weeks in advance.
I pray that both treatments and vaccines for covid-19 will be developed and accessible as soon as they can so that life can go back to normal and we can all feel safe in the world again. In the meantime, know that I pray for you all daily.