Planning for Christmas

10-30-2020Letters From Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

During this past week, a Parishioner looked at me with confusion on his face when I was talking about how Fr. Jack, the Pastoral Staff and I have been trying to plan Christmas Masses and Services for the last 6 weeks. I could not figure out if he just realized how much thought, planning and work it takes to plan for Parish Masses and Events. Or he may belong to the “magic school” that because he thinks it simply happens. Or maybe he could have been horrified to think that Christmas is not that far away and that because of the Pandemic slowdown, he needs to get cracking and start the Christmas Shopping. Whatever it all was, we as the Pastoral Ministry Staff are sensitively, thoughtfully and carefully planning for Christmas at Saint Mary’s. We want to be able to welcome everyone in various ways in light of their decisions and limitations about participation in light of the Pandemic.

We all know that Christmas tugs on the hearts of all people. Some have had hopes and dreams which may not have been realized. Others feel the pain of the loss of a loved one (s); some feel the pain of isolation, rejection or loneliness. This year for all of us, we will be feeling a profound sense of loss because this Christmas cannot be like any other Christmas we have had. The COVID Pandemic is creating a loss of various depth and power for everyone. This year our Parish’s “holy work” is to share Christ’s Nativity with Joy, Light and Hope with sensitivity and kindness. Our Parish’s mission of grace and service to one and all is critical in this time.

Our main theme this year will be come to the Christmas Crib and receive Christmas Communion. There will be a Christmas Crib in the main church and also in the chapel, besides the Crib on our piazza. Our plan is to have beautiful Masses for those who feel safe to attend. These will be capacity limited with the upstairs Mass broadcast to the downstairs Chapel and Hall (most Masses) with Communion in all places. If there are overflow people at Masses beyond out capacity, they will be able to receive Communion immediately outside on the piazza of Saint Rocco in front of our outdoor Christmas Crib and then depart.. We will also have many open hours during which you can come into the upstairs, proceed down the main aisle to Christ Child at the Crib and then receive Christmas Holy Communion and leave by the side aisle. This visit should be less than 5 minutes.

For some, they can participate by watching our Live Streaming Masses. All of our Masses will be Live-streamed and recorded (always mostly easily and best accessed on our website). The camera will focus on the main sanctuary with the Christmas Crib as its prominent focal point. For those who are able to participate only by Live-stream, they may make a spiritual Christmas Communion. This year, we will welcome the Nativity of Jesus Christ by Masses, Communion and Crib Visit or Live Streaming. Throughout the times, we will have either live Christmas music or our own wonderful Parish Choir’s Christmas CD singing inspiring Christmas Carols. FYI: We are still working out the details. The Hours of everything are not yet determined and finalized. The Parish Pastoral Council will be advising our final draft of our plan. Though this Christmas will be different, we can celebrate with faith the Birth of the Lord Jesus in beautiful and wonderful ways.

Our Parish Saint Vincent de Paul is inviting us to assist them with a “virtual” Christmas Giving Tree. The needs are very real, the way of helping is different. On our website will be the suggestions and directions in inviting you to assist them in their special work. I will write more about this in the coming weeks. Our Sacred Heart Council of Knights of Columbus and its members are finalizing their “Pie” Order for Thanksgiving. You can order on our website this weekend, or visit the lower level of the church after mass to place an order. They will also be assisting the Saint Vincent’s for Christmas during this Advent Season and those details will be published right after Thanksgiving.

Just an advanced invitation: the Franklin Interfaith Council will be sponsoring a virtual Zoom Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, November 22 at 7 PM. I will be sending out details which will allow you to connect to this event. I will send them in the letter the week before the Service.

Please remember to vote, although I voted early and found out that many hundreds of us have.

I thank you for your financial support for our Saint Vincent’s. I personally thank you for your support of our Grand Annual Collection for our Parish and also your faithful weekly support via online giving or by mailing or drop in envelopes to the Rectory.

We continue to walk by faith because our God has blessed us in so many ways. Our Parish Patroness is Mary, the Mother of God. There is no one better! Saint Rocco, the great Healer Saint is special to us. Although we may be tired, worn down, worried or frightened by life today, keep strong for our God is always with us and walks with us each and every day.

God bless,
Father Brian