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By Fr David ORourke

Open for Masses Again

July 3, 2020
Column: Point of View

I am happy, and even relieved, to be able to let you all know that we will again be open for Masses this weekend. And we will be celebrating the 4th of July. Open, but very Carefully Open. Which should go without saying. But when you are dealing with a lethal epidemic nothing goes without saying.

We are accustomed to thinking of the Mass as a community event, a gathering with one another. Well, for the remainder of this epidemic we have to think of Mass—like everything out in public—as single or private events that we do almost alone. And that’s not easy for many of us. I’m accustomed to being out at the door of the church before and after every Mass. And I’ll still be there, but I and we will still all be wearing our masks to remind us that things are different for now.

Our church is large—holds a bit over 200 people. Our numbers are small, averaging about 125 for both Masses put together. So, we can space out rather easily. We will have our pianist Cesar on Sunday. But we will not be singing. Singing is “explosive,” as they call it. Forced breathing—not good now.

At Communion time come up slowly, distancing as elsewhere.

It will work. We will make it work. And we will make it work because we are good at making things work, we’ve been doing it all our lives.

I’ve seen it work, but in a way none of us has ever had to face.

When I went to work in Lithuania in 1999, just six years after the Soviets removed their troops at the end of the 50-year occupation, people never talked at Mass in one of the few open churches. Not coming in or out of the church. Never looked at one another. They looked at the ground. If you did, the Soviet KGB police, who saw everything, would arrest you, and off to Siberia—charged with anti-state plotting.

Russian occupation was much worse, more lethal, than any pandemic. But they survived. We will too. And, hopefully, before too long we will again be able to have our parish dinners, and coffee hours, and very festive events. But just not yet.

In the meantime, you’re all welcome back. I look forward to seeing you, greeting you again, and doing what common sense and good medical advice tells us we can do.

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Fr. David O’Rourke, OP, is pastor at the historic Our Lady of Mercy parish in Point Richmond, an accomplished artist, gardener, translator, author, family counselor and retired professor.  Donations to the small, beautiful parish church that needs so much repair are always appreciated and may be made here: http://pointrichmondcatholic.org.

Fr. David O’Rourke, OP, is pastor at the historic Our Lady of Mercy parish in Point Richmond, an accomplished artist, gardener, translator, author, lecturer, family counselor... MORE »

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