Dear Parish Leaders:
During this pandemic, your priests and parish staff have been praying for you, working through these present difficulties, and preparing and planning for the future. As we prepare for the time when certain restrictions are lifted, we know that parish life will not be the same.
Our first parish priority is resuming Sunday Eucharist. We are grateful to have permission to resume gathering for the Eucharist beginning today (May 18), and the parish staff has worked hard to try to ensure that we can safely and reverently celebrate and share the Eucharist.
The next parish priority is planning for the education and faith formation of our young people in our School, PSR, and Youth Ministry. The health and safety of our children, teachers, parents, and parishioners will be our guide and goal. As a parish, those are our top priorities: the Eucharist and the education and faith formation of our young people. As we move forward out of this pandemic into a new reality, that is my focus and the focus of our parish staff.
All of us hope and pray that the effects of the pandemic will soon begin to fade and that healing and renewal can begin. But hope is not enough; we must respond to these unhappy circumstances with prudent choices that place the health and well-being of our community first, especially our elderly and more vulnerable members. Even if the reopening of society happens without another surge of the virus, I deem it prudent and necessary to decide that all events on the MQP campus be canceled up through August 1, 2020. This includes, but is not limited to Hospitality Sundays, XLT, Adoration and Benediction, summer camps, sports and practices, parish events, meetings, and other gatherings.
As we prepare for parish events this Fall, I want you as parish leaders to consider plans moving forward. Thinking of our usual parish calendar later in the year, there are many events that would normally be part of our parish life: Back to School Sunday, Brat Fest, CYC Sports, ACTS Formation and Retreats, Grandparents’ Day, Breakfast with Santa, Bible Study, and all the regularly scheduled meetings and activities of our Women’s League, Men’s Club, Home & School Association, and dozens of other parish organizations, committees, and ministries.
It is certain that social distancing will be a factor in any event, meeting, or activity for the foreseeable future. Face masks and gloves will be encouraged, if not mandated. It is likely that many people will not participate in activities as they previously would. There will likely be restrictions from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, St. Louis County and/or the state of Missouri. And we must be prepared for the possibility that the virus will return next fall or winter and life is turned upside down once more.
As you consider meetings, events, and plans moving forward, I’m asking everyone to prayerfully consider:
1. Is this event, meeting, or committee truly necessary? Is it possible in the current climate? Can we do without it?
2. If it is necessary and possible, how is it going to happen with restrictions for social distancing and public safety? What are the specific plans or protocol?
Not having an event is always an option. As I mentioned, our parish priorities are the Eucharist and the education and faith formation of our young people. During this time of quarantine, I think that all of us have grown in appreciation of what is really important and we have appreciated a much more simple life. Now may be the time to sunset events that may have been useful in the past but now don’t really help us all grow closer to Christ or strengthen us to serve as Missionary Disciples.
Before any event is put on our parish calendar for the coming year, those organizing the event must have a plan in place for social distancing and public safety. And since we know that things can change overnight, know that the parish may cancel any event at any time.
Knowing that this situation changes day by day, the Parish Staff and I will revisit this policy frequently, and will announce any modifications in a timely manner, but I want you to know this now so that you can plan or not plan accordingly.
I am willing to engage anyone in conversation about future events at MQP, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.
I am grateful for your patience, flexibility, and creativity as we enter into a new phase of parish life together. Know of my prayers for you and your family, especially for your good health and safety.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. John Vien