April 23, 2020 | Feast of St. George
“O God, from whose hand we have received the medicine of eternal life, grant that through this sacrament we may glory in the fullness of heavenly healing.” - Mass in a Time of Pandemic, Closing Prayer
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
Someone wiser than I once said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” And often, that reaction defines who we are.
First off, let me thank each and every one of you for your fidelity to the faith. In these times, faith is what will get us through and even help us emerge stronger because of this experience. And while the Sacraments often nourish our faith, right now you find yourself unable to participate, unable to encounter the living Christ in the usual ways. Spiritual Communion is not only the next best thing; it is efficacious in itself. It effects change in us and gives us the grace of true communion with the life-giving Trinity. Do not despair in your time of distance from the Sacraments, for God’s grace is ever-present and ever merciful.
Secondly, let me thank the incredible team of co-workers in our parish office who have forged new ways of reaching out to our parish family. They have pushed themselves in new directions and have had as their singular goal the opportunity for connection that truly defines the life of a parish family like St. Anne. From our musicians to our youth minister, and from our front office staff to our entire ministry team, everyone has stepped up to make the transition to our ‘new’ normal as smooth as possible.
Next, let me assure you, life as we knew it will return. We will gather together again to celebrate our faith and to strengthen one another by our presence. But what has become so evident to me in these weeks is that we are an Easter people! While the times have been difficult, we have not given in to despair. We have done our best and we will reap the fruits of remaining faithful.
Along those lines, a couple of housekeeping notes:
• Our Ministry of Compassion is maintaining regular hours, but only for food pickup.
• Masses as well as other great formation opportunities will continue to be live streamed on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/stanneba). You do not have to have a Facebook account!
• Online giving through WeShare (stanneba.weshareonline.org) is the simplest and most secure way to continue supporting your parish, but actual envelopes and cash and checks can be deposited in the mail slot in the door of the Vestry, the room where the priests vest before Mass.
• Palms will be distributed the first weekend we are back together.
• Enclosed with this letter, you will find the beautiful stained-glass window from our church, minus the color! Adults and children alike are invited to color the sheet and to submit it to a coloring contest that will go on until we return to Mass. Please be sure to include your name and age on the sheet. Once completed, mail to our Parish office or drop them in the mail slot that has been placed in the Vestry door near the chapel. (Your renditions may be posted in our electronic media.)
In short, we have reacted as well as can be expected, if not even better, in these different times. Keep up the good work! Check in on neighbors and family! Stay well! We will see you all very soon.
Finally, before I close, it’s with mixed emotions that I report that effective July 1st, Fr. Sean O’Brien, our Associate Pastor of three years, will become the Associate Pastor of St. Pius X Church in Tulsa, and newly ordained, Fr. Robert Healey, will become the new Associate Pastor here at St. Anne. I am excited for Fr. Sean’s new opportunities in ministering to a growing Hispanic population there (he’ll be doing some immersion before he arrives), but I’m also sad to have to say goodbye. He has been a true brother in ministry and has been a wonderful teacher and preacher to our St. Anne family. God willing, we’ll be together in plenty of time to celebrate him and wish him well before he leaves. And once Fr. Healey arrives, we’ll celebrate and welcome him as well.
I leave you with the opening prayer of a Mass in a Time of Pandemic, words crafted in the midst of this crisis by the Church. Let us make this our prayer as we continue to hope in the Lord of healing in these unusual, yet blessed, times:
Almighty and eternal God, our refuge in every danger, to whom we turn in our distress; in faith we pray, look with compassion on the afflicted, grant eternal rest to the dead, comfort to mourners, healing to the sick, peace to the dying, strength to healthcare workers, wisdom to our leaders, and the courage to reach out to all in love, so that together we may give glory to your holy name. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
Fr. Sean and I love you all and are praying for you every day!
With Easter joy,
Fr. Matt Gerlach