Fr. Jim’s Weekly Jottings

Dear Good Shepherd Family,

I want to thank all in the parish and my friends and family from around the world who helped me to celebrate my anniversary on last Sunday. While the number of people in church was small, the crowd that watched mass on the internet and all who send messages on Facebook or the internet or by phone made the day so memorable. I heard from people from six continents over the course of the days and even people I had not been in communication with for some years. The highlight was the drive by parade of cars with signs and balloons, playing instruments and honking horns. Very unexpected – a few tried to give it away, but I did not guess for a moment what would go on. Safe and secure but a joyful encounter through distance and cars and protection. Thank you! I love ministering here in Good Shepherd especially the supportive community that cares for each other in hard times and joyful ones.

Monday was so incredibly special as we welcomed our people to daily mass. The parish continues to livestream our liturgies nut now people can come and celebrate and receive the Eucharist. I just want to stress a few points that apply to any time you enter the church these days:

    • Only the center doors of the front of the church are open. When you enter there is hand sanitizer to use or soap and hand blowers in the restrooms.
    • We require that all who come into the church wear a mask to protect one another’s health and safety. I hope all come to church well and healthy and yet we can spread this virus to one another too easily. Masks protect you from me and me from you. We do have extras for people to use.
    • The church has been sanitized and set up for safe distancing. Please follow the directions given by ushers as present but signs help too.
    • You can only sit close to people you live with. Otherwise 6 feet, front and behind and on the side. We are going to stick to 25% capacity now but always with social distancing.
    • We do not hold hands, nor shake hands, nor fist bump or hug or any close contact before, during or after mass. We ask you to come in without gathering as a group and leave as individuals or families with proper distancing.
    • For communion we ask you to remain in place with masks on and we will come to you. We will give you communion in the hand only in the species of the host. We will say “the Body of Christ”, you say “Amen” and then we will place a host in your hand and move on. Please wait until we move past you and then lower your mask and consume the Body of Christ.
    • We will not be wearing mask while we preside over the Eucharist except during communion time.
    • If you do not wish to receive communion in the hand then we will bless you and you can make a spiritual act of communion.
    • We have confessions after each mass morning and evening for those who would like, and we will also be available for appointments.
    • We keep the church open until after the last mass of the day and after confessions and people exit. This procedure continues at the same schedule Monday morning through Saturday morning all week long

On the weekend of May 30 and 31 there will be the opportunity to participate in weekend masses. While all the basics above apply to these masses we are added a few special regulations to be safe and serve you well. Remember the obligation to attend mass on weekends is suspended for the time being.

    • If you are going to attend a weekend mass from the end of May through the end of June, we ask that you call the office to give us an RSVP of the time you wish to attend. We have a limit of how many can be in the building and once full we cannot let more in. If you call, we can help to arrange the crowd better so that an appropriate time is there for you. We have added another Spanish mass on Sunday, and this will help us spread to crowds. Please note the new Sunday morning times. Saturday Afternoon and Evening and Sunday Evening schedule remain as normal times. RSVP starting on May 26th (The Office is closed for Memorial Day.)
    • When you arrive please stay in your cars until the church is opened up for your mass – approximately 30 minutes before mass begins. Once the church has been fully sanitized, we will ring the church bells and open the front doors of church for you to enter with your mask on and sanitize your hands. An usher will greet you and lead you to a suitable place. NO SELF SEATING! This will help us to maximize seating.
    • There will be collection baskets in the narthex/entrance to the sanctuary for you to place your donations to the church. No baskets will be passed.
    • There are no handout, papers, hymnal or disposable items in church and so all that is needed will be projected on the screens in front of the church. You can also use your cell phones to read prayers. Please silence them and use them for prayer only. No WIFI is allowed in church as multiple use interferes with our ability to livestream.
    • After mass is over, we ask that you leave by the rear side doors and proceed to your vehicles keeping a safe distance. We need to clean the pews thoroughly before the next mass. There will be no coffee or donuts or socializing after masses for the time being.

Next month here are some highlights of events:

    1. June 6 and 7 we will distribute palms at the end of masses. These were blessed on Palm Sunday and stored for you. They will be on tables for you to collect as you leave.
    2. June 13 and 14 and again on June 20 and 21 we will have First Communions at all the masses in small groups of ten families or less. Laura Mediavilla be contacting all parents and has set up.
    3. June 27 and 28 will be the Sunday for Welcoming and Confirmation. There will be two Confirmations here done by me, delegated to Pastors by the Bishop this year. The Spanish Mass at 12:00 noon and the English Mass at 5:00pm will be the times for Confirmation. Other Sacramental events will be at the 4:30 pm and 5:15 pm on Saturday the 27th.
    4. Graduation for our students has been arranged and is a closed event that will permit only graduates and immediate families to attend. It is by ticket only but will be livestreamed on June 3rd.
    5. Every weekend we will continue to live stream masses as appropriate. We will try to do the 4:30pm masses on Saturday and the 9:00 am and 10:30 on Sunday for the next few weeks once church is open.
    6. We will livestream every Mass of First Communion, Confirmation and RCIA and Welcoming during the month of June.

Please be patient and considerate and loving towards all your fellow parishioners and especially of all who are helping to guide our events. Hope this all goes smoothly and that we remain safe. You can also choose to avoid the crowds these days by watching our masses on YouTube or Facebook or even coming to one of the weekday masses instead which have smaller crowds.

Just a reminder that Fr. Bino is being transferred to St. Theresa in Sulphur LA. He leaves the parish on June 18. We cannot have a gathering to say goodbye, but you will be able to see him on the weekend before he drives west. His replacement will be arriving by the end of June and we will give you more details on the who, how and when in the next week’s jottings and E-Scroll.