Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary Parish,
In following the Directives of the State and of the Archdiocese, we will be changing protocols and policies for in-church attendance starting with Ash Wednesday. (FYI: the real effective date is two days before on February 28th.) In light of the Cardinal’s decisions and promulgation, our procedures going forward for this Parish for the foreseeable future are based upon advice from the Pastoral and Ministerial Staff, Health Care Experts, Eucharistic Ministers, involved Parishioners and some common sense.
We will continue to maintain a ‘socially distance” section in church and in the chapel (the area is located on the Main Street side of the church and chapel). There is no longer a requirement to use a face covering (a mask) in church, but people are welcome to wear one. If you are not vaccinated, you are expected to wear a mask. We have many people who have health issues and need to continue to be very careful, so please respect people’s choices. Mask wearing is not about oneself as much as it is about other people’s health and the common good. Bear in mind that to wear a mask or not wear one is not a political statement or any type of statement. We also will have extra masks available at the front door of the church for anyone who needs a mask. All Eucharistic Ministers will continue to wear a mask while distributing Holy Communion. All Eucharistic Ministers need to be vaccinated fully. They will also continue to wash their hands before hand with hot water and soap in the sacristy and use hand cleaner afterwards. Holy Communion will continue to be distributed only in the hand, not on the tongue. This is to respect the health and safety of the Minister and the people who have to receive Holy Communion after someone has received on the tongue. People’s well-being and health are of a higher value than a personal pious practice. We have folks who now attend here because we only allow Holy Communion to be received in the hand. Mask wearing is optional at all Funerals, Baptisms and Weddings effective Monday February 28, 2022.
Just some advance notice to help you plan out your time etc.: On Ash Wednesday there will be a Mass and Distribution of Ashes in the main church at 7 AM and also 7 PM. At 12:00pm Noon there will a simple Distribution of Ashes in the church. There will be no service, but Ashes will be directly distributed. One may arrive, offer a simple prayer and receive ashes and then depart. The Religious Education program under Karen Ackles is preparing a special Ash Service with Ashes for families to use at home. Please email her if you would like one of these special kits for this wonderful religious service. Starting the Friday evening after Ash Wednesday, March 4 at 7:00pm, our Stations of the Cross Service will be offered in the chapel. Remember morning Mass is at 7:00am Monday through Friday. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance or Confession) is every Saturday in the chapel in the Penance Room (located on the Main Street side of the Chapel).
Our Franklin High National Honor Society is sponsoring a winter clothing collection (coats, scarves, hats and gloves) to benefit the Elisha Project based in Providence RI. Collection bins can be found in the main church lobby and also the ground level lobby by the elevator on the side of the church. Please bring along some clothing that has been resting in your closet or drawers which you have not worn or used in a good stretch. All of you know how warm winter clothes and gear are essential in living through our many weeks of bitter cold and snowy weather. Indeed Jesus does tell us quite clearly we need to clothe the poor.
I think all of us are looking forward to better times ahead. Our rough journey is not yet over, but we are getting closer to the end of the Pandemic and at some point we will start to build some new ways that we will need to live. These past two years have altered the rhythm of life for all of us and we will not be able to return completely to what was. During this coming Lenten Season of six weeks, hopefully we will start to sort out what we need to keep, what we need to stop, what we need to change and also what we need to start. In some ways the Pandemic will give all of us a point in time where we can step forward in positive ways. In light of this coming Easter and the Resurrected Jesus we will be able to give away the bad of the past and move ahead. Perhaps folks will be able to leave their hurts, resentments, grudges, mistakes and wrong doings behind and move along with a lighter and better step in life.
May Mary, the Mother of God and our Patroness intercede for us at the Heavenly Throne. May Saint Rocco intercede and obtain healing for those who are ill in mind, body or soul, especially for our young people.