Dear Sisters and Brothers of Saint Therese Parish,
We are now in the beautiful season of Advent, the beginning of the Church year, a time of hope and promise. Before the festivity of Christmas, the Church invites us to embrace the simplicity of this season, to listen to Scriptures that speak of waiting in trust, to keep vigil with a pregnant Virgin Mary, and to come home for Christmas.
“Coming Home for Christmas” is our theme for this Advent season...”home” from wherever we are on our particular journey. It is also somewhat comforting in this time of pandemic, social distancing, mask wearing, and political divisions to have a place where we feel safe and wanted, no matter what. When we enter a place that is or was so familiar to us, often a deep, inexplicable peace comes over us. We are where we need to be.
Sometimes “home” is also a distant, painful place, or one in which we are not sure if we are still welcome. Sometimes people feel that about the Church. Maybe you do. With open arms and open hearts we invite you to “come home” without judgement and with deep respect. We are all searching for that which gives us life, healing, wholeness. I hope our parish community here at Saint Therese in Montauk can be that for all of us.
Speaking of safe, we want our church building to be as physically safe as possible during this time of Covid. And we will do everything we can to keep it that way. Of course, if you are not feeling well or experiencing symptoms, we ask that you not come to church until you are given the all clear by your doctor. And if you are concerned about compromising your own health because of age or some underlying condition, please be at peace, stay home until we are past this virus, and watch Mass on TV. We are installing WiFi in the Church so that we can begin to broadcast a Mass on FaceBook or YouTube from the church. We are not there yet but we will soon be.
The church is kept clean and sanitized, the air and heating system has been cleaned with the temperature set at 60 degrees throughout the day and evening, then automatically goes to a comfortable 68 degrees when a gathering such as Mass is scheduled. We don’t want to dry out our nostrils and become more susceptible.
We ask of course that we keep ourselves and each other safe by wearing a mask over our noses and mouths while anywhere in the church, sitting in every other pew to keep socially distant, sanitizing our hands when entering the church and before receiving Holy Communion, and receiving Holy Communion on the hand and not on the tongue. Simple. And then we keep each other healthy. As priest I must say Mass at the altar without a mask but I am alone at the altar. When greeting you or distributing Holy Communion I will be masked. We can do this as a community who respects life.
Let’s keep each other in heart and prayer during this beautiful season of quiet Vigil. May we all receive the grace we need this Advent.
Blessings and peace,
Father Bob, C.P.