Submitted by St. Mary on Sun, 06/21/2020 - 5:18pm

Dear Parishioners:

   Perspective…is such an essential element, I believe, in this life.  As we enter our fourth weekend “back at church,” I would like to offer some perspective.  First, the very phrase “back to church” has a selective application.  While we are holding public Masses once again, a considerable portion of our total members are unable to come or do not yet feel confident coming to weekend celebrations.  We cannot predict for how long that will last.  We will exercise restraint in making any sweeping judgments!


   For those who have been coming again, quite possibly the procedure for entering church no more than 30 minutes prior to the start of Mass is disappointing (others chuckle because they are grateful to be able to accomplish moving their crew into place 3 minutes prior to Mass!).  Perhaps the wearing of the mask was tolerable for the first few weeks and yet is starting to feel quite oppressive.  Whether or not a particular individual is personally on the team that goes about sanitizing pews and other surfaces after Mass, he or she may be thinking or saying: “This is a bit excessive!”


   As this phase proceeds, and we may become a little—or more than a little—testy with one another, we keep in mind a few facts from history— within our own country!  For approximately four years, rationing was a universal experience for American citizens.  While food items like sugar, butter and meat were a part of this system, it also extended to article of clothing, shoes and gasoline.  If you are anything like me, the following sends shivers up and down your body: coffee was rationed nationally on 27 November 1942 to 1 pound every five weeks! Taking this one step—at least—further: recently, Bishop Derio Olivero of Northern Italy, intubated for 17 days and who almost died of Covid-19, recently commented on how amazing a teaspoon of coffee tasted in his water, at a point when he could only have water.   That is perspective!


   How do I define “hardship?”  If I find waiting to be seated in church a nuisance, consider the many photographs available for viewing of individuals on foot or in cars, lined up in ample number waiting to receive food from a food bank.  I know our own Wooster Hope Center has needed to revamp its procedures in order to keep people safe—patrons and volunteers alike—without suspending their operations in these tough times.  Praise God for the Saint Mary parishioners who have been giving generously of their time there, as well as at People to People.


   I also want to say a word about our church space.  I think it is safe to say that no one saw coming, a time when we would have to think about sanitizing our pews.  Maintenance consisted of methods typically associated with care for wood.  At the very beginning of Covid-19, on that weekend just prior to lockdown, we scrambled to comply with the early directives offered to us for maintaining safety.  No doubt, the wood pews—especially the newer, lighter-colored mobile benches, took a real hit.  A group has been working diligently to identify the best “formula” to balance preservation of wood with preservation of health.  I will unhesitatingly go on record for saying that when it comes down to it, if I have to err on one side or another, I choose the well-being of people over the short-term condition of the pews.  I hope it is obvious why. 


   Continue to treasure simple pleasures!  Continue to be liberal in hugging those you are able to embrace!  Continue to be gentle in word, attitude and action!  Thank God for every breath you take! 



                    Fr. Stephen


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