A Special Message – Fr. Sibby
“Blessings and Joy; and May the peace and love of Jesus Christ be with you always”
As we mark over two months struggling with this coronavirus pandemic and hear and read about it in the news, our lives and families have been disrupted immeasurably. We read about the number of deaths throughout the world; rules about six feet of distance and wearing of masks; no visitors to hospitals or nursing homes; no gatherings in churches for sacraments and prayer; and the stress and anxiety affecting families and most all of us. What I pray for is that all of us as a parish faith community can strive to live the gift of HOPE. It means for all of us to have a desire for things to change for the better, so as to give us courage, strength and boldness instead of fear. Hope can bring us joy and peace in the midst of turmoil.
We have done our very best to continue many of our ministries here at St. Amelia. Our committed school faculty are continuing to teach via distance learning and are being very creative as they attend to the learning needs of each of their students. We have been blessed with individuals helping with church decorating, music ministry, and lectoring as we offer livestream masses, prayer services, Adoration, and May Crowning celebrations. Of course for the time being our funerals are limited to minimal numbers able to attend and therefore visible only on livestream. We have witnessed the success of our school functioning as a site for the government sponsored free lunch program with our staff serving over 22,000 lunches to poor and needy children of our community. We thank you for all of your food and monetary donations that have supported our St. Vincent de Paul Society ministry as they work to provide food, paper goods and essential products to so many families in despair.
Since my last message to you, I want to say Thank You to our St. Amelia parishioners as you answered the call and rose to the occasion by responding so generously. As we faced budget cuts, loss of large fund-raising dollars, and unemployment costs, you responded and did your part to provide for the church of St. Amelia. Thank you to everyone who mailed in their weekly /monthly offertory donations, signed on with EFT, or dropped them off at the rectory door; it allows us to keep the ministry of St. Amelia going strong. As I Thank you, I do ask for your continued generosity each month while we face what may be a long and difficult road ahead. We recognize that many of you are dealing with reduction or loss of income during these difficult times, and our thoughts are with you. We simply encourage everyone to do what you can. This will not be easy but together we can come away strengthened and renewed as a church, school and people of God.
When I pray and reflect on what has happened, what comes to my mind and brings me to tears is how we have lost the ability to share our affection; I feel for all of you who hunger to share in Holy Communion but especially our Third Grade First Communion Class who were unable to come to the Table of the Lord. I listen to the pleas of many seeking confession and am saddened when I am unable to express words of forgiveness due to rules, distance and space. It continues to be so uncomfortable celebrating Mass to an empty church as I miss all of you my parishioners! Sadly, this pandemic has hit my family personally as my mother, Connie, died from the virus on May 6. Yet, we all must continue to keep the faith, have HOPE, pray for each other and help one other no matter what may be asked of us.
“What are we doing?” or “what can be done?” are great questions. We have been very busy adjusting for spending and budgeting and were fortunate to receive the Small Business Loan to assist with meeting payroll. We have a staff and volunteers making phone calls to our elderly parishioners to check in, and see if they need anything or have prayer intentions. We are planning for the time when we will reopen but at this moment we do not know what it will look like. However, please know that at the heart of it will be the safety of everyone; we can only do so much until we receive directions and guidance from state and local authorities as well as the diocesan committee working towards the reopening of all churches. Please be patient with us as we navigate this time together. I ask everyone to continue to have HOPE and keep the faith by following the regular St. Amelia Mass schedule Monday through Sunday and watching Masses via “Live Stream.” (www.stamelia.com). We also encourage you to complete the E-MAIL INFORMATION FORM on our website (just click on the BLUE button that reads “click here to sign up for E-NEWS”) so that we can regularly update you via e-mail on our re-opening plans and any new information and news regarding our Diocese, Church and Parish.
We have received many e-mails, written notes and drawings from children commenting on how much it means to you to be able to watch Mass and other prayer times that are being livestreamed. It is so heartwarming as it keeps us going and fills us with joy. Please know that Father Peter and I as well as our ministerial staff can still be contacted through phone calls or email to hear from you and know of ways in which we can continue to support you.
I want you to be assured of my prayers for you as together we move with HOPE in our faith, and overcome this crisis through prayer and love for one another. May God Bless you all.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Rev. Sebastian C. Pierro