Like a bear that has been in winter hibernation, St. Mary’s Parish is slowly beginning to come back to the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments. We have just completed our third week of in-person Masses and we have begun to adjust to wearing a mask at Mass, making a reservation for the weekend Masses, and using Purell rather than holy water as we come into the church. We are adjusting to this very unique time in our lives. I have been moved by the joy I see as parishioners receive the Holy Eucharist after a long hungry absence. I can see our clergy has had a great lift to their spirits as they begin to celebrate Mass for a congregation. As one confrere said, it is great to say Mass for real people. I am not sure if I should be offended by that since I thought those of us attending the Redemptorist community Mass were akin to real people.
Last Saturday, we had our first outdoor Mass in the Carroll Gardens overlooking Spa Creek since the onset of the pandemic. We had about 70 people sitting on lawn chairs or blankets on a perfect morning where it was just hazy enough to keep the heat away. Even the boats stopped to study what we were doing, but we could not reach them with our collection baskets. This past Sunday, we had the delight of welcoming fifteen catechumens into our parish community after the delay of their entrance into the Church due to the cancellation of the public Easter Vigil. There was a joyful spirit in the Church as they professed their desire to enter the Catholic Church, received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and made their first Holy Communions. We are beginning to catch up on baptisms, and I just had a baptism of a young girl preparing to make her first Holy Communion. This coming week we are welcoming our brothers and sisters in the Spanish Community back to public Masses. We will soon have celebrations of first communion and confirmations. I also have had two lovely weddings; the bride and groom were allowed to remove their masks to give a post wedding vow kiss. It is a brave new world.
I am very conscious that many members of our parish are not yet able to return to Mass due to their health concerns. We are committed to continuing to live steam a daily and Sunday Mass. Under no circumstances do I want anyone to feel any pressure to attend Mass while this horrible virus continues to threaten all of us. We all long for the day when this pandemic ends and we can have a festival of joy as we can all return safely to the table of the Lord.
In the Redeemer,
Fr. Pat Woods, C.Ss.R.