A lot has been happening here at St. John’s over the past few weeks! After a week of everything seeming to be up for grabs and never knowing when a new earth-shattering announcement was going to be made, we have settled into a “new normal” to which we are quickly adapting. We have been hard at work to transition as much of our parish’s life to a digital format as possible. First and foremost has been bringing Sunday Mass to you live via Facebook. Thanks to some great volunteers, we have already been able to make big improvements to the quality of the transmission and we are getting even better at it.
We have also been producing a lot of digital content, from daily reflections, catechesis talks on how to live the Faith at home, and plenty of content for sacramental catechesis as well. Transitioning our religious education program to a learn-from-home format has not been easy but I have been impressed with how our team is rapidly adjusting to meet the needs of our parishioners. Children and young people are still receiving classes for the First Communion and Confirmation preparation (many of which are being recorded for them by our priests), and their Mass attendance even continues to be verified by watching Mass online and filling out a worksheet where they write down details from Mass. They might be paying even better attention now!
Even church decorations for the sacred times we are observing continue in a limited fashion. We covered the statues and crucifixes for Passion Sunday last week and are planning for Easter decorations now.
Holy Week is going to look a lot different this year. I hope that you will still follow along with our parish live streams and try to live these sacred days in your homes. We have posted some suggestions for how to do so, along with explanations of how this year’s Holy Week liturgies will be modified, on our Facebook page. (Find it at facebook.com/stjohngoshen – even if you do not have a Facebook account!) I will greatly miss how we normally celebrate here at St. John’s and I am sure that you will as well.
Our Next Generation Program continues as well. We have a really great team working on this project. We will be releasing a video this week that will introduce you to some of them and share some of our work with you. Stay tuned!
The lack of the Eucharist continues to bring sorrow to our hearts as we are not able to receive Jesus’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as frequently as we are hopefully accustomed to do. Many people have pointed out that this will be a reminder for us never to take the Eucharist for granted. Another thought worth considering is this: For most of the Church’s history, before St. Pius X’s decree on frequent Communion in the early 20th Century, very few people received Holy Communion more than a few times a year. Some of you may even remember having to fill out a card affirming that you had fulfilled your “Easter Duty” of receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Easter season (which remains a precept of the Church), a remnant of this practice that persisted in many places until the 1960s. Thus, many men and women lived lives of heroic virtue and even managed to become saints without receiving Holy Communion as regularly as you and I are able to do. We should be inspired by their example to continue to pursue holiness in our daily lives.
I will miss you all especially during this holiest of all the weeks of the year! Please pray for me and know that I am praying constantly for you and remembering you at the Lord’s altar, especially on Sundays in the pro populo Mass offered for the people of the parish.
We are so grateful for all the people who have continued to support St. John’s by signing up for online giving or mailing their contributions to the office each week. Your support is helping us to continue to maintain our essential operations and continue to reach you through our digital platforms. You are also helping us to retain our talented staff, who have adapted so well to this rapidly changing situation and have demonstrated so much loyalty to our parish. If you have not yet made this transition, we would be happy to talk you through signing up for online giving. You have probably heard about small business relief being provided by the federal government. St. John’s will not be eligible for these funds since we operate under the umbrella of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, which employs over 500 people. This makes your support of our parish all the more critical!
Recent Read: Bella Poldark: A novel of Cornwall, 1818-1820 by Winston Graham. This is the last novel in Graham’s Cornwall / Poldark series. I have enjoyed reading the series very much and now coming to the end after about a year of reading them it almost feels like losing a good friend.
St. John the Evangelist, pray for us!
Yours in Christ,
Father Royce Gregerson