It is with great uncertainty and yet with faith and hope in Divine Providence that I announce to you what I never imagined that I would communicate when I was ordained a priest to serve the Diocese of Arlington nearly 24 years ago, there will be no more Public Masses until further notice. Bishop Burbidge with great discretion resisted the chorus of anxious voices in our land until the CDC, the Governor’s Office and the White House made their latest warnings, proclamations and suggestions that all public functions should be canceled. The following policies have been crafted for St. Stephen the Martyr Parish and St. Katharine Drexel Mission from the instructions given me by Bishop Burbidge’s office.
Public Liturgy & Sacraments
- All public Masses (including Sunday, Holy Day, and weekday Masses) are suspended immediately until further notice. (Bishop Burbidge says expect eight weeks).
I am to celebrate private Mass daily for parishioners and the intentions of the parish as well as for the relief and assistance to all affected in any way by COVID-19.
My Private Masses cannot be offered at the usual Parish Mass times.
Those attending private devotions at the time that I am offering a Private Mass may present themselves for Holy Communion if they are well disposed. (So as not to interrupt the present recommended “social distancing,” you may kneel with ample space between you and your neighbor at the Altar Rail to convey this desire.)
I’ll make Sunday homilies available on our parish website, www.katharinedrexelcc.org
Bishop Burbidge will make available his private celebration of the Sunday Mass at https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/tvmass/.
- All Confirmation liturgies are suspended until further notice.
- All weddings and funerals should continue only if absolutely necessary, with the attendance limited to immediate family members.
- Quinceañeras are canceled.
- Churches will remain open for individual private prayer, especially prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
However, no gatherings for organized devotions (such as Stations of the Cross) are permitted.
No more than 10 persons should be present in the Church, according to the recommendation of the White House.
- The number allowed in the Church is never to exceed the White House recommended 10 persons.
Bishop Burbidge instructs that the interior of the Church building and pews should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. (I could use some volunteers to help with this.)
Pastoral Care of the Sick
- Pastoral Care of the Sick is limited to those who are dying and those with Coronavirus who request the Sacraments.
- I must be quarantined for two weeks after visiting somebody with Coronavirus.
- Holy Communion will not be brought to any other parishioner who is homebound or who cannot attend Mass.
– Please visit the parish websites to find prayers for “Acts of Spiritual Communion.”
- Lay volunteers should not be visiting the sick in any official capacity.
I’ll keep you updated with the latest when it comes to my attention. If you know of a fellow parishioner who is not receiving these messages, please, have them call the office so that we can update their contact information.
Those who are involved in the Parish Religious Education, we will be contacting you regarding recourses on-line that could assist you in the Christian formation of your children. I am still of the mind that we could have First Holy Communion Masses along with Confirmation this May. We will have to revisit the dates for these events. (No reason thus far as to why I can’t meet with the eighth graders for our one on one examine this April.)
Finally, just like you I still have bills to pay. I have to keep the facilities running and employees paid. Your contributions are more important than ever since we don’t have the benefit of visitors’ donations. Gratefully many of you are signed up with Faith Direct. This is a tremendous relief to know that we can rely on your consistent generosity rather than on an uninterrupted weekend schedule that would allow you to attend SSM or SKD. If you haven’t considered it, please, give it a serious thought. It ensures that your support arrives when needed regardless of weather, travels or pestilence. To sign up for Faith Direct, visit http://www.faithdirect.net and use St. Katharine’s code, VA786.
While we may not be able to congregate to express our communion in faith or receive Holy Communion, please, know that we are united before God in our parochial family and that every Sunday my intentions at Mass are for every soul of our parish, living and deceased. This solidarity is dear to me as I pray each and every day for your well being.