35 Dartmouth Street, Garden City, New York 11530 - (516) 352-5904
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Daily Parish Update

SEPTEMBER 18, 2020

Livestreaming News

Dear Parishioners,

We are returning to livestreaming Masses at St. Anne’s. We have an enhanced video system in the church and it was used for the first time this morning. Parishioners have already reported about the excellence of the video.

It is a new system and it is not yet fully installed as we await the delivery of some additional equipment. The system, when fully installed, has additional capabilities that will be new to us. As the system is new and requires learning to be fully used, there may be technology glitches as we move forward. Please be patient if there is an issue with the delivery to your home. During this pandemic time, although the rectory office is open during the week, please know the office is closed on weekends. Report problems between 10:30 and 4:30 on weekdays.

We are very aware of the need for livestreaming of Mass during this pandemic time. This video livestreaming capability is a high-tech one and was made possible through the wonderful generosity of parishioners who responded when I shared this possibility with the parish two months ago.  We have very generous parishioners at St. Anne’s. Thank you.

For this weekend, we will be livestreaming each of the Masses at 5:00 PM on Saturday, and 7:00, 8:30, 10:00, 11:45, and 5:30 on Sunday. This is a temporary livestreaming schedule during this pandemic time. Adjustments will be made as we learn the system, monitor the number of views, and respond to parishioner needs during this pandemic.

For your convenience, click on this link to access the livestream:

http://www.stannesgc.org/cms.cfm?category_id=3&content_id=346

Please note this is not accessible through Internet Explorer. Use a different browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox. Many parishioners who are not yet comfortable returning to Mass in the church continue to support the parish by mailing in their offertory envelopes or utilizing WeShare for electronic contributions. If you would like to resume your contributions electronically, there is a “donate” button on our website under the live streaming box.  This will take you to the secure WeShare site.  Thank you for your continued support and generosity.

We are thrilled to resume the livestreaming of Masses in an enhanced way. We are very grateful to the parishioners who have made this possible. Hopefully, we deal well with the technology challenges!

Enjoy the weekend!

Fr. Tom

AUGUST 27, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Mass & Masks

Over the past few weeks, more parishioners have been returning to weekend Mass. Recently, about 600 people have been present. Sr. Judy and a team of parish volunteers have done great service to greet parishioners, arrange for safe seating, and then prepare the church for the next Mass by cleaning the pews. It has been a great team effort.

Another great team effort has been the school and parish preparing for the school reopening immediately after Labor Day. Administration, faculty, staff, and parents have come together to create an environment for our returning students that places health and safety as our primary concern.

The pandemic has presented so many problems and challenges for us all. One of the learnings of this time has been the importance and strength of a team when people come together in a spirt of cooperation and collaboration. I am so grateful to all those who have shared in these many efforts.

We need the cooperation of all parishioners as we return to Mass in greater numbers. As has been the case since our churches opened for Mass two months ago, we follow diocesan directives, good health and safety practices, and parish policies. Among these are:

  1. Requirement of masks for all persons over the age of two.
  2. Distance seating

It is clear that masks are helpful in limiting contamination. Masks are required to be worn throughout the celebration of Mass. They are only to be removed when receiving Communion. They are not to be removed during Mass. Please cooperate and understand this is a community policy and practice meant to promote health and safety for all. Excepting oneself from this practice brings concern, distraction, and risk to fellow parishioners, and others.

Signs will appear in the church this week reminding all of this policy and practice. I am confident of everyone’s cooperation. We are a wonderful faith community that looks out and supports one another.

Regarding seating, our pews are marked by red and green cards. Red cards mean no seating in that pew. Green cards mean seating with distancing and masks in the pew. Families may sit together with masks and not distancing. In summary, red, no; green, go with masks.

There may be medical reasons why a person cannot wear a mask. If that is the case, please contact Sr. Judy or me, and we will try to arrange a special seating arrangement.

May we continue to pray for each other during this time. Pray for safe openings for all the schools that the children of our parish attend. Pray that someday in the coming months we may be able to be present together in our church. We pray that all may be wise, prudent, and mindful of the health and safety of one another.

Have a blessed and peaceful weekend!

Fr. Tom

AUGUST 20, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Summer is flying by. I think we might all agree it has been a very difficult summer as the pandemic continues to influence our daily lives. Still, parish life continues and we are looking forward to September which will bring a new school year and increased parish activities.

A constancy all summer is the prayer that we offer every day for the parishioners and the struggles we share with this virus. We continue to mourn those who have died and pray for the consolation of their families. We pray for the sick, for their return to good health and recovery. We pray for all those who have served the community in so many different and heroic ways during this pandemic. We pray for their health and safety as well as for the health and safety of those returning to work. At this particular time, we pray for young families, students, teachers, and school administrators. Planning the return to the many schools that our young parishioners attend is of paramount importance.

Allow me to share with you some observations of parish life at the moment. These include:

  1. Mass Attendance
  2. Audio Visual Church Program
  3. School Re-Opening
  4. St. Francis Ministry Center
  5. Parish Finances

Mass Attendance

This past weekend, close to 600 people came to Sunday Mass at St. Anne’s. All are asked to wear masks; directives for health and safety are practiced; people report they feel safe at Mass. The obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended by Bishop Barres. The number of persons attending Mass has been increasing incrementally. There is no indication that regulations regarding crowds will be mitigated anytime soon. We continue to sit people every other pew and Holy Communion is distributed after Mass. Very generous volunteers, organized by Sr. Judy, usher the volunteers where physical distance is maintained.  Pews are cleaned after each Mass by volunteers and maintenance staff. A big thank you to all those volunteers who assist parishioners and prepare the church.

Following all the guidelines, we were able to celebrate Confirmation for about 100 eighth graders and First Holy Communion for about 100 second graders. These gatherings were very happy ones for the children and their families. We look forward to the fall when we celebrate these sacraments with families who chose to wait until September and October.

I know that many would like to join us at Mass on the weekends and during the weekdays. It is best to do so only when you feel safe. Pray about your feelings and speak to the Lord about them.  If you are at all in a compromised health situation, it is best to remain home. And you should know, there is no obligation to attend Mass at this time. Know that we pray that someday, we might all be together again at Sunday Mass.

For those who are here on a weekly basis, thank you for your presence. I feel the strength of your presence and am blessed by being and praying with you. We pray that as time moves forward, the pandemic will recede and we will enjoy the presence of our friends and neighbors. It’s important that we all continue to pray for one another.

Parish Audio-Video System

For the past five months, we have been live-streaming Masses and pre-recording Masses so that parishioners can share in the celebration of Mass at home. At times, the technology we have been using has worked better than at other times. Occasionally, there have been issues with the audio or video presentation. At other times, scheduling these Masses has presented a difficulty. When we began this service and there was no congregation attending Mass, we aired the Mass from the Church. When people were permitted to attend Mass again, we live streamed and prepared videos from the school chapel. Parishioners prefer the livestreaming from the Church. Because of the generous gifts of parishioners, we are able to install a much enhanced video system in the Church that will be linked directly to the church sound system.  This will allow for livestreaming, videoing, and presentation in the Church of videos, lectures, and other events. Equipment for this system has begun to arrive and we hope will be fully installed in the coming month. A large demand for this type of technology has delayed the shipment of some components. We are very grateful to those who have made this purchase possible and look forward to its installation so you can have a better experience at home and we can use the gifts of technology in the Church.

School Opening

We plan on opening our school doors for the new school year on Tuesday, September 8. This opening for grades K-3 will be followed by an opening for grades           4-8 on Wednesday. All students will report to school on Thursday.  Nursery and Pre-K will start at a later date. We currently enroll 425 students. The preparation has been very complex. There has been a lack of consistency in the communication of guidelines from Education Departments.

We have a new school principal, Mr. Paul Morisi. Mr. Morisi has been tireless in his efforts with a team of school staff to meet all the standards and policies so that we provide a safe and healthy environment for our students. The parish sees the school as a very vibrant ministry of the parish. And we continue to advance financially the commitment of the parish to the school, especially in this time of pandemic as we design the best response we can to this crisis in education. Parents have great concerns and we share them. At the same time, I assure you under the leadership of Mr. Morisi and his team, St. Anne’s Parish School is doing its very best to open the school in a safe and healthy way in anticipation of a very successful school year.

All the young people of our parish attending St. Anne’s, the local neighborhood schools, Catholic high schools, and many diverse colleges are returning to school campuses with many challenges. I ask you to pray for our young families, the students, and the teachers in our community. Our desire is for all students to have a safe and healthy resumption of school. Students want to return to school. They want to learn. They want to be with their friends. We want it to be safe and healthy.

St. Francis Ministry Center

If you drive down Fairmount Blvd., you will observe that the former convent property is now set up as a construction site. Fencing and screening surrounds the entire lot. Signs are posted at the entrance to the lot which is near the rectory driveway. Almost all preparations have been completed and we now await our building permit which will allow us to begin with excavation. Soon after, hopefully in October, modular sections for the building will be shipped and put in place. We excitedly await those days.

We now need our building more than ever.  The virus pandemic demands a much reduced use of our school building. Our ministry building will be able to accommodate at least four meetings on a single night, rooms capable of welcoming up to 140 people or so, not including social distancing. Many ministries seek space for a few dozen people and our new spaces will easily be able to accommodate numbers like that with social distancing. Many complexities face us during these troubled days. We look forward to our new office and meeting space and thank you for your continued generosity with pledges, payments, and contributions.

Parish Finances

Most importantly, I thank all those parishioners who continue to maintain their Sunday offering contributions. It is extraordinary. The end of the fiscal year arrives August 31 and later in the year we will have exact numbers for the 2019-20 fiscal year from September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020. A review of the numbers so far suggests a 20% decrease in ordinary income and an 8% decrease in ordinary expenses. So in terms of ordinary income/expense, we will approach a financial end of the year report that will show little surplus or deficit.

The concern I have is that expenses incurred by meeting the challenges of the pandemic in the areas of school, maintenance, and supplies will provide a greater deficit for the coming year. We are using an increase of parish funds to meet the demands of a safe and healthy operation of our school and we have about a 15% loss of enrollment. The uncertainties and changing conditions of the pandemic make it difficult to create an accurate budget and to know where we will be a year from now in terms of income and expenses for the parish and school. I ask for your understanding and continued support. When fall arrives, we will conduct an in person meeting of the Finance Committee and hopefully be able to give you more precise information.

As we have responded to the challenges of this pandemic, we have increased spending in terms of maintenance, both in terms of cleaning products and staff. Additionally, we have taken on increased parish support of our parish school as we prepare for our enrollment of 425 students. We are doing our best to open our school in a safe and healthy manner.

As for now, we need to think about trying to address our reduced income, especially as  we begin the new fiscal year. Some parishioners use the last quarter of the calendar year to make end of the year contributions to various charities and educational institutions. I would request that you consider St. Anne’s Parish and School as one of the beneficiaries of your philanthropic and charitable donations. I know this is an unusual request but these are challenging times for all. Throughout its many years, through the generosity of St. Anne’s parishioners, the parish has been able to do great things and meet the needs of our many ministries. With continued generosity, I am sure the great tradition and practices of our parish will continue well into the future.

In the same spirit, we realize that many are experiencing hardships at this time. We are here to help. That is part of our parish mission. Please contact us if we can be of any assistance to you and your family.

Peace to you and your family this weekend as we move through the final weeks of summer.

Fr. Tom

PS: We will be having a missionary speaker at all the Masses this weekend. In lieu of a second collection, the parish will make a special donation of $5,000 to the mission. Any contribution you wish to make toward this parish donation can be placed in the contribution offering boxes in the lobby of the Church. Thank you for your support.

 

JULY 24, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

It has been a while since I have communicated with the parish and there are a number of items to share with you.

  1. First and foremost, we continue to pray on a daily basis that our parishioners be healthy and safe. We pray that the leadership of our nation, state, and county make wise and prudent decisions regarding the pandemic. We pray that all people heed the wisdom and experience of the science and medical community as they lead us in these difficult days. We pray in gratitude for all those who have worked so selflessly, generously, and heroically on the front lines of the pandemic. We pray for the safety of all returning to work and their good health. We pray for those without work. We pray for peace in our streets, cities, and nation. We pray for those who serve in law enforcement professions, commissioned to protect the safety of people. I know you join with us in prayer for all the above and more.

 

  1. Sunday, July 26 we celebrate the Feast of St. Anne. We have permission to celebrate this feast even on a Sunday because it is our patronal feast. As we bear the name of St. Anne, we have received many graces through her intercession, and these graces bring us great responsibilities. The life of the Church and our parish has been greatly influenced by this pandemic. Clearly, emergence from the pandemic will take a long time. Our parish will operate differently. We already have. As we celebrate our parish feast day, we continue to ask St. Anne to guide us in these challenging days, hoping that our parish, though different, will be courageous, faithful, and generous in proclaiming the gospel, serving the poor, and providing healing to all in the months ahead. St. Anne, pray for us.

 

  1. Also on Sunday, July 26, the Feast of St. Anne, Fr. Nicholas will celebrate his sixth anniversary of ordination as a priest. Fr. Nicholas has been with us since November. Fr. Nicholas is a very cheerful priest, gentle with people, and works diligently on his English pronunciation so he can be more easily understood. It has been a joy for Fr. Cody and me to share rectory life with Fr. Nicholas. As he is far away from his home and family in Ghana, as St. Anne’s Parish, we are his family. Congratulations to Fr. Nicholas and we are grateful for your priestly presence.

 

ST. FRANCIS MINISTRY CENTER

If you have passed the rectory the past two weeks, you have seen digging and paving being done in the rectory driveway and parking area. This is all work for our new building. Underground piping has been installed for connections between the school, rectory, and new building for the purpose of power and technology. In early July, having had various plans and drawings approved, we submitted our application and payment for our building permit. Our building is modular and sections are being manufactured in Pennsylvania. Our excavator and foundation people are on deck, ready to go. We had hoped to receive the permit by August so modular sections could be set in place before September and the beginning of the school year. Unfortunately, we are told the permit will probably only be issued after Labor Day. Perhaps, it might come sooner? Our need for meeting space outside the school building is now greater than ever.

SCHOOL PREPARATION

As you know, we have a new school principal, Mr. Paul Morisi. With the assistance of Mr. Fennell, and an entire parish/school team of faculty, staff, and maintenance, Mr. Morisi is making great strides in preparing for a new school year. Modifications are being made, cleaning is thorough, maintenance schedules designed, nurse care addressed, faculty visits, are all part of the work being done to prepare for full school attendance and schedule, or distance learning, or some kind of combination. With state and diocesan mandates being observed, we remain hopeful for full school days with social distancing adaptations and masks. As with many issues of the pandemic, things are changing almost daily; advisories change, and we wait final directives for school re-opening. One thing I can assure you: Under the leadership of our school administration, St. Anne’s Parish School is doing all it can to open in September safely and with the health of the community, our first priority.

MASSES

We continue to have our full summer Mass schedule. For your information about 40 people attend the weekday daily Mass at 9:00AM. About 500 people attend the six weekend Masses, averaging anywhere from 70 to 110 people per Mass. A system is in place for seating that observes social distancing and masks are required for all attendees. Holy Communion is distributed after Mass and all are encouraged to receive in the hand. The suspension of the Sunday obligation to attend Mass remains in effect and I believe will continue to be in effect well into future months. All who have health compromised situations are encouraged to remain home. All who feel a particular vulnerability to the virus are encouraged to remain home.  At the celebration of Mass, we continue to follow all the diocesan safety and good health precautions. For those who have chosen to attend Mass, know that your prayerful presence is very encouraging and supportive to us who preside at Mass. You remain a living sign that we will get through this crisis with one another’s help and prayers.

LIVESTREAMING

We continue to livestream daily Mass from the school chapel. We video a Sunday Mass on Friday and is available for viewing throughout the weekend. We know this is far from ideal, but schedules, equipment, timing, and safety all indicate this is what we can do for now.  I indicated in my last email that we are upgrading our video capabilities. Parishioners immediately responded with very generous donations that will cover the cost. We have received one cost proposal and are awaiting a second one this week. The new installation will enhance our video capabilities and livestreaming. There will be two screens in the front of the church above the Holy Family Statue and the ambo. These will allow us to continue formation programs for our children. The newly installed cameras will bring a better picture and audio into your homes. We will sign a contract this week and we are told if all equipment is available, three weeks will be necessary for installation. We look forward to this improvement and increasing of our capabilities.

FIRST HOLY COMMUNION

About 80 second graders have celebrated First Holy Communion these past six weeks. These were wonderful celebrations.  Social distancing was observed and all participants wore masks. These children and families waited a long time to receive Jesus for the first time. These were great days.

CONFIRMATION

This past week and this Monday and Tuesday, we are celebrating Confirmation. We have had five Masses with about 90 newly confirmed. These also were wonderful days. Limited to parents and sponsors, these Masses also observed social distancing and all wore masks. There were no processions and Confirmation gowns were optional. The celebrations exceeded expectations. They were simple, very prayerful and reverent. There was a sense of peace and calm during these celebrations.

These simplified celebrations of First Holy Communion and Confirmation taught us something for future celebrations.

In addition, the celebration of Baptism and the Sacrament of Marriage has resumed. Baptisms are celebrated individually. Marriages follow the social distancing and mask practices. Funeral Masses are now scheduled as needed at the usual times. Confessions are on Saturdays at 4:00 PM or by appointment,

Happy St. Anne’s Day! Enjoy the weekend. Stay safe and healthy! Pray for one another!

Peace be to you!

Fr. Tom