Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Masses have resumed in our churches in Brooklyn and Queens, practicing the required social distancing and other new health-related measures, such as covering the face with a mask. The testimonies of our returning parishioners for Sunday Mass have been different throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn. I’d say, given the limited capacity, we’ve seen 40 percent of people return, which is kind of encouraging.
As said, the pardon or dispensation from the obligation of the Sunday Eucharist will remain in effect until we can return to normality. This is especially true for people at higher risk, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. For these reasons, this group of people must take special precautions before returning to Mass. When we all cooperate, the policy of social distancing becomes a rule of responsibility and concern for others. We certainly show this concern by attending Sunday Mass, and even some weekday Masses.
Although mass attendance has been lower as is often the case during the summer, perhaps this year due to the same fear of contagion, many parishioners continue to watch Mass on television, continuing to contribute to their parish. I thank each of you for continuing to financially support your community.
We are all aware of the economic turmoil in our city and our nation, and how this has affected so many families in our parishes. Now more than ever, your church needs your financial support, so I ask that you do what you can to help your parish keep the ministries vital to spreading the message of Jesus Christ.
To be successful in the future, one of the new forms of donation that has been implemented is the “online donation”. Although the Diocese has been slow to adopt this approach, we have noted that in the wake of the pandemic many parishes have made this option available to their parishioners.
Statistics from the Catholic Foundation in Brooklyn and Queens show that during COVID-19 we went from 63 parishes offering online donations to 156 parishes. Many of our parishioners have been very faithful in mailing their envelopes or leaving them in the rectory so that the churches can continue their mission of serving our community, as well as being able to retain staff, which is more necessary now given the protocols. hygiene and health that must be followed to keep us all safe.
During this time of the pandemic, we have learned several lessons; something particularly true for those who have been affected by the virus, some with mild conditions, others with serious conditions, even those who have sadly experienced the loss of a loved one. Dealing with illness is never easy, and this insidious virus has tested our patience and ingenuity in trying to avoid contagion. It is important that we all cooperate with the necessary measures to eradicate this disease.
We hope and pray that a vaccine is developed in time that will allow us to eliminate the continued transmission of this virus. We must remember that flu season is also approaching. Although it is a different virus, flu vaccines are important, perhaps now more than ever, since we do not want to contract the coronavirus in addition to the flu, which could compromise our health much more.
Undoubtedly, we have rowed out to sea, into the deep waters of recognition of our human limitations and the limitations of our government at all levels trying to combat the pandemic, which has never been part of our experience. One of the positive things that have happened to us over the past few months is the deepening of our faith and our confidence in the power of prayer. Let us not forget the words of our Lord: “For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). “And I will also do what you ask me, calling on my Name” (Jn. 14:14). These are some of the most difficult teachings of Jesus, that we must truly pray with all our hearts and with an indomitable faith that leads us to receive what we need today.