35 Dartmouth Street, Garden City, New York 11530 - (516) 352-5904
How Do I?

Daily Parish Update

JULY 6, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Three weeks have passed since I last communicated with you about the parish and our response to Covid 19. First and foremost, please know that we continue to pray at Mass for the deceased, the sick, and everyone who has been on the front lines in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and other places that treat those with the virus. We continue to pray for all those who have been working at essential services and shops and for all those returning to work these past weeks. All parishioners are asked to continue to pray for those who so generously and courageously serve and care for others during these days. And we have many parishioners among those good people.

We pray for peace in our streets and neighborhoods. We acknowledge the sin of racism and where there is sin, in the Catholic tradition, there needs to be repentance and conversion. Our culture continues to struggle with the necessity of repentance and conversion. At the same time, our Catholic tradition rejects street violence, gun violence, and lawlessness. We continue to support those in public service, knowing that many of our parishioners have distinguished themselves in law enforcement and public safety as police, fire, and medical personnel. Public service in all these capacities is necessary for safe neighborhoods and cities. Service of others is at the foundation of our faith and a pillar of the greatness of our nation.

These months have been troubling for all of us. Complex issues have been raised. Illness has besieged us. Ours is a nation with division about strategies, responses, and approaches to the issues and tragedies that have marked 2020. As one of the Eucharistic Prayers at Mass proclaims, the Church has the mission “that in a world torn by strife your people may shine forth as a prophetic sign of unity and concord.”

I take seriously the call that the Church, and surely our parish, “be a sign of unity and concord.” That does not mean we agree on all the issues, nor do we all think the same way, but it does mean amid our differences, we remain a parish community of unity and concord. Our unity and concord stems from our shared faith, our shared commitment to the gospel, our shared commitment to the teachings and practices of our faith, our shared commitment to love God and our neighbor. Despite the travail of these months, with the pandemic, the protests, and the violence, our call to be a sign of unity and concord remains. In fact, that shared responsibility seems as important as ever in our fractured society. Our faith does not identify with those who seek to divide.

Our parish remains limited in its activities. We practice social distancing; we do not have usual parish meetings; our school building is mostly closed. We listen to the medical experts. Still, with cautions in place, important things are happening that continue to allow us to be a “prophetic sign” in these troubled times.  The Church does not have a summer shutdown. Among our ministries at present are:

  • Involvement of Parish Social Ministry in food donation and food delivery to those in need of food both locally and in other neighborhoods;
  • Preparation of meals to be delivered to homebound parishioners;
  • Ministry to the sick and dying of the parish;
  • Continued activities of the Professional Networking Group to support those with employment issues;
  • Various parish ministries using “Zoom” meetings to stay in touch and support one another.

In addition, and very importantly, we have been celebrating public Mass these past four weeks. Most parishioners choose to remain home and continue to participate through the livestream internet service that is provided. Please know that Bishop Barres continues to suspend the Sunday obligation to attend Mass. It is understood that many parishioners feel it is not safe to attend Mass at this time. I am confident that this suspension of Sunday obligation will continue throughout the summer months and into the fall. We are looking into upgrading our “televised Mass ability;” cost estimates are $15,000 to $30,000. We are researching a more reasonable cost.

Those who come to daily and Sunday Masses are seated in assigned places that ensure social distancing requirements. All are required to wear masks. When distributing communion, the priest wears a mask. There are no processions. There is no collection. All enter the church and leave the church by the main door. Communion is distributed after Mass and all are free to exit the church immediately after Communion. Hand sanitizers are available at the door. After each Mass the pews are cleaned by a dedicated group of parish volunteers, sacristans, and maintenance staff. Air conditioning is on and windows remain open to encourage air flow. Parishioners who attend report they feel safe.  I am very grateful to Sister Judy for her coordination of these efforts.

For our young people, graduation, First Communion, and Confirmation were all delayed. Graduation took place with only graduates and parents present, seated distantly from one another all through the Church. Communions are taking place on dates that parents have chosen in small groups from 1 to 16. The two boys this morning actually had specially designed “First Communion masks.” Confirmation ceremonies will take place in late July in small groups with parents and sponsor. All parents of First Communion children and Confirmation candidates made a choice about celebrating these sacraments or waiting until fall or spring. Baptisms are taking place on an individual basis and we celebrated the Sacrament of Marriage this past Saturday with about 20 guests. We have also resumed regular celebration of funerals. All of these gatherings take place with the proper precaution of masks, social distancing, hand sanitizers, air flow, and pew cleaning. The celebration of the sacraments reflects the prayer in the Eucharistic prayer, “that in a world torn by strife your people may shine forth as a prophetic sign of unity and concord.”

Whether you are a parishioner praying at home or a person praying in the church, together may we remain with God’s grace to be a “sign of unity and concord.”

I wrote earlier that we are not taking a collection at Mass, yet parishioners continue to remain very supportive and generous. Through donations offered at Mass, made through WeShare or sent by the mail, you have been very good to the parish. At last check, we are maintaining about 75% of our usual parish income through this pandemic time. Your generosity is amazing.

Today, our construction permit requests have been filed with the Village of Garden City. Excavators, modular builders, electricians, and plumbers are all awaiting these permits. It is possible that we will break ground this month. The need for our new building, the St. Francis Ministry Center, is greater than ever. Most likely, the availability of our school building for parish meetings will have limitations as we navigate the path to our school opening. We are awaiting directions from the state education authorities and the diocesan education department on how we will proceed in September. I will keep you informed. More than enough for now!!!

The peace of Christ be with you.

Msgr. Thomas J. Harold

Pastor

JUNE 15, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

We had a wonderful return to Mass yesterday. We followed all the precautions directed by the state and the diocese. The entire parish staff worked diligently to prepare the Church. On Saturday night and Sunday Sr. Judy and a team of volunteers welcomed each parishioner, guided them to a seat and cleaned the pews after Mass. All went exceptionally well with 50-75 parishioners attending each of the Masses for a total of about 400. Everyone was cooperative, patient, happy to be there, and very reverently received the Body of Christ. It was a blessing for us all. Thank you Sr. Judy and all the volunteers.

I am very grateful that parishioners remain cautious about returning to church. It remains important that those with risky health situations use prudence about returning to Mass. Some parishioners feel it necessary to remain home until they feel safer about joining a larger crowd for Mass. This is totally understandable and why the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended.

We prepared the cafeteria for a second celebration of Mass if the main church exceeded the social distancing guidelines. Because we planned out sections of the church for “singles”, “doubles”, and “family groupings”, we were able to accommodate everyone upstairs following the regulations of social distancing.

We will continue to videotape a Mass for Sunday and make it available on the parish website for the weekend. We will continue to livestream a 9:00AM daily Mass for the foreseeable future.

We thank those who were able to join us for Mass during the weekend and during these weekdays at 9:00AM. We hope that you felt welcomed and safe. I find myself during this return to Mass and receiving the Body of Christ thinking of the words of St. Peter at the Transfiguration, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”

Peace be with you.

Fr. Tom

 

JUNE 12, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi. We are invited to express our gratitude for the great gift of the Eucharist and to deepen our reverence for Jesus’ Real Presence. Thankfully, we will be able to resume the distribution of Holy Communion at Masses this weekend.

The parish staff has worked very hard to prepare for this weekend’s Masses, ensuring that proper precautions are taken to promote the health and safety of everyone. As you’ll notice by the many items below, there is a lot of information to communicate. We ask for your patience and cooperation as we implement these procedures. Most of all, we look forward to a prayerful celebration of Mass.

The bolded text provides new information, while the text which is not bolded indicates points made by Fr. Tom in one of his previous emails. Nevertheless, all are relevant for this coming weekend.

  1. We will observe our Sunday schedule of Mass in the Church at 5:00PM on Saturday evening and 7:00AM, 8:30AM, 10:00AM, 11:45AM and 5:30PM on Sunday. We will have additional Masses this weekend in the cafeteria in order to accommodate more people. Mass will be offered in the cafeteria at the above times as well, with the exception of the 7AM Mass.

 

  1. The doors of the Church will be open thirty minutes before the start of Mass so that the cleaners have sufficient time to sanitize the Church and the cafeteria from the previous Mass.

 

  1. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect and continues. Therefore, it is not a grave sin to miss Mass under the current conditions.

 

  1. Those who are sick or vulnerable due to age or health conditions are strongly encouraged to remain home and continue to view the Mass online. A Mass recorded in the school chapel will be available to view on the parish YouTube channel by Saturday evening for those unable to come to Mass. It will be available to view throughout the day on Sunday, as well.

 

  1. Masks or facial covering are required and must be worn. The priest and deacon are not to wear masks or facial coverings during Mass. Children under the age of two and those with breathing difficulties will not wear facial coverings. This needs to be widely understood so as to prevent conflicts among parishioners. Parishioners should bring their own masks or facial coverings.

 

  1. All parishioners are asked to use the main doors, the center doors at the Dartmouth Street entrance. This is to enter and exit the church. Other doors will remain locked from the outside but remain accessible for fire and emergency exiting.

 

  1. Hand sanitizer will be available at the doors of the Church. However, we encourage you to bring your own so as not to quickly deplete the parish’s supply.

 

  1. Seating will be at every fourth pew. First pew sitting, second and third pews empty, fourth pew sitting. This will be throughout the Church. In the cafeteria, chairs will be spaced to maintain the six-foot distance. Families may move chairs together and sit next to one another, maintaining the six-foot distance from other families.

 

  1. Places in pews and designated chairs will be marked where persons can be seated. Greeters will be present to direct you where to sit. You will be asked by them to sit only in these places; they will be numbered and as you arrive at church, you may be designated to sit at a particular location, so we can make optimum use of our space to accommodate as many parishioners as possible. This may mean you will be seated in a different place than where you usually sit. Please be open, cooperative, and flexible. This will be crucial.

 

  1. Groups of two persons from the same household can sit together in one space.

 

  1. Families of three or more persons will be asked to sit together on the right side of the Church, appropriately distanced from other families. Once the family section fills up, we will ask additional families to attend Mass in the school cafeteria.

 

  1. Altar servers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, etc. will remain suspended for the time being. A priest may choose to ask someone to do the reading. This is optional to the priest celebrating the Mass. Parishioners need not volunteer.

 

  1. Priests and deacons are not to wear masks or gloves during Mass. They will sanitize their hands before Mass and before the distribution of Holy Communion.

 

  1. There will be no hymnals, missalettes, loose papers, booklets, etc. No bulletins will be distributed. Any worship guide you bring into the Church or cafeteria, you must remove when you leave. Leave nothing for the next person. Leave no papers, prayers, advertisements, invitations, etc. anywhere in the Church or vestibule of the Church.

 

  1. There will be no entrance, gift procession or final procession at the conclusion of Mass.

 

  1. There is no Sign of Peace, nor adapted signs of peace.

 

  1. Collection baskets will be marked as you enter the church. There will be no pew-to-pew collections. Offerings can be given before or after Mass.

 

  1. Holy Communion will be distributed after Mass, according to the directives of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Please see the guidelines below.

 

  1. After the deacon says the words of dismissal, please be seated. The priest and deacon will prepare themselves to distribute Holy Communion. The priest will then say the “Behold the Lamb of God…” Then, you will be invited up by an usher pew-by-pew, maintaining a six-foot distance between the person in front of and behind you. There will be tape on the floor to assist with maintaining an appropriate distance.  

 

  1. If you are in the Church, those sitting on the middle aisle and those on the left side of the Church will receive first, processing up the center aisle. There will be two stations in the center. The family section (right side of the Church closest to the stained glass windows) will receive last, processing up the right side aisle. The priest or deacon will come over to distribute to you after the people in the other sections of the Church have received. Please follow the directions of the ushers. They will guide you.

 

  1. If you are in the cafeteria, you will similarly be called up row-by-row, making a single line, keeping an appropriate distance.

 

  1. If you are uncomfortable receiving Holy Communion at this time, you may exit when your row is called.

 

  1. The priest and deacon will be the only ministers distributing Communion. They will sanitize their hands and put on a mask before the distribution.

 

  1. You are encouraged to receive in the hand.  Please lower your mask right before you receive. Gloves should not be worn when receiving Holy Communion. If the priest or deacon’s fingers come in contact with a person’s hand or mouth, he will pause and sanitize his hands before resuming the distribution.

 

  1. After you receive Holy Communion, you may make a brief prayer of thanksgiving and then depart from the Church or cafeteria through the main doors. This will allow for the Church and cafeteria to be properly sanitized before the next Mass.

 

  1. Air conditioning and open windows will be used at the same time to promote air flow. Please dress appropriately. Parishioners are not to open and close windows on their own.

 

  1. The Church will be cleaned after each Mass. Pews will be cleaned. Volunteer parishioners are still asked to help in this regard. Please contact Sr. Judy at srjudy@stanngesgc.org.

 

  1. Confessions will be heard on Saturday afternoon from 3:30PM to 4:30PM in the Church parking lot. Small tents will be set up with chairs set six feet apart. Please wear a mask and appropriately distance yourself while waiting to have your confession heard, both for your safety and to avoid hearing another person’s confession.

I know this is a lot of information. Adjustments may need to be made as necessary. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation. May we continue to pray for each other and for all those who are sick, suffering and most in need of our prayers.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Cody

 

JUNE 9, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The parish staff has worked diligently to prepare for tomorrow’s 9AM Mass, our first public Mass since mid-March. We will continue livestreaming Mass on Monday thru Friday at 9:00am (from the school chapel.)  One weekend Mass will also be livestreamed (time TBD). We will not livestream Mass on Saturday at 8:30 AM.

We have established procedures designed to promote the health and safety of all our parishioners. As such, we ask all to follow the guidelines we have established. These were sent earlier in the week. Below is a summarized form for those attending Mass at 9 AM. It is important that those with health issues and vulnerability to the virus continue to participate through the livestream Mass at home.

  1. Please try to arrive by 8:55. The door to the Church will be open at 8:30.
  2. Please use the center doors of the main entrance. Other doors will remain locked and only available for emergency exit. Consider this when parking. For those requiring the elevator, the McCloskey door will be open. All others should enter through the main church door.
  3. Upon arrival, please use your mask or facial covering.
  4. Upon arrival, you will be greeted and directed to a particular seat. These seating arrangements and everyone sitting at the assigned numbered seat will allow as many parishioners to attend Mass as permitted by New York State and diocesan guidelines. For the health and safety of all, we are accepting and following all guidelines and respectfully ask all parishioners to do the same. This may mean not sitting in your preferred seat from times past.
  5. Mass will be celebrated as usual without additional ministers such as lectors, Eucharistic ministers, and altar servers.
  6. There will be no entrance, gift procession, or final procession at conclusion of Mass.
  7. Communion will not be distributed. We will pray an Act of Spiritual Communion.
  8. After Mass concludes, you are asked to exit the Church by the main doors on Dartmouth Street. Please go immediately outside, without congregating and conversing in the lobby.

We will use these procedures for weekday Mass until further notice. Procedures for Sunday Mass will be similar.

For Sunday Mass, we may accommodate about 150 persons in the main church. We will be celebrating Mass in the school cafeteria on the weekends, when the number of attending parishioners require us to. In the school cafeteria we can accommodate about 50 persons. Families coming together to Mass may sit together.

Obviously, we have never dealt with these conditions before. We ask for your patience with our procedures. It may be that as we learn, other procedures will be helpful.  It promises to be a learning experience for everyone.

Most of all we hope that our return to Mass will be joyful, peaceful, prayerful, and a wonderful experience for all. How good it is we return to the altar of God to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Peace be with you.

Fr. Tom

 

JUNE 8, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This Solemnity celebrates the life of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our faith in the three persons, one God, is one of our earliest learnings in classrooms of religious education. The Trinity is the greatest mystery of our faith. It is about the oneness of God, the love of God, the majesty of God, the equality of God, the unity of God.

So we follow the Solemnity of yesterday with our return to church this week and next Sunday. When we return, our gathering for Mass will be different. Our celebration will be a little different. There will be procedures and practices that we all will be expected to follow. We will be called to unity, marked by openness, cooperation, and flexibility. We want our return to Mass to be marked by unity and joy. It will be the responsibility of each one of us to contribute in a positively helpful way that will assist in making our return to Mass in the church as safe and healthy for all who gather. The procedures we follow are meant to protect our most vulnerable parishioners. Some of us are not among the most vulnerable. Still, we are asked to cooperate fully so that the most vulnerable to the least vulnerable can be confident that at St. Anne’s we want to do what is best for the health and safety of all our parishioners.

With the permissions of our governor, and our bishop, we will cooperate with diocesan directives that are given to us to assist with this phased re-opening. There will be additional directives that I will receive in the coming days. These too will be communicated to you. Again, I ask all parishioners for full cooperation.

  1. Beginning Wednesday, June 10, we will resume the public celebration of Mass at 9:00AM. We will have limited capacity, for weekday Masses around 75 persons.

 

  1. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect and continues.

 

  1. Those who are sick or vulnerable due to age or health conditions are strongly encouraged to remain home and continue to view the Mass online.

 

  1. Seating will be at every fourth pew. First pew-sitting. Second and third pews- empty- fourth pew sitting. This will be throughout the Church.

 

  1. Places in pews and designated chairs will be marked where persons can be seated. You will be asked to sit in only these places; they will be numbered and as you arrive at church, you may be designated to sit at a particular location, so we can make optimum use of our space to accommodate as many parishioners as possible. This may mean you will be seated in a different place than where you usually sit. Please be open, cooperative, and flexible. This will be crucial to a prayerful re-opening.

 

  1. Groups of two persons from the same household can sit together in one space.
  2. Families of three or more persons may sit together in the same pew to which you will be directed, a section of the church designated for family groupings, yet still following social distancing guidelines from other families.

 

  1. Masks or facial covering are required and must be worn. The priest is not to wear a facial covering. Children under the age of two and those with breathing difficulties will not wear facial coverings. This needs to be widely understood so as to prevent conflicts among parishioners. Parishioners should bring their own masks or facial coverings.

 

  1. Altar servers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, etc. will remain suspended for the time being. A priest may choose to ask someone to do the reading. This is optional to the priest celebrating the Mass. Parishioners need not volunteer.

 

  1. Priests and deacons are required to sanitize their hands before Mass. They are not to wear gloves.

 

  1. There will be no hymnals, missaletttes, loose papers, booklets, etc. No bulletins will be distributed. Any worship guide you bring into church, you must remove from church. Leave nothing for the next person.  Leave no papers, prayers, advertisements, invitations, etc. anywhere in the Church or vestibule of the Church.

 

  1. There will be no processions: entrance, recessional, gifts are all suspended.

 

  1. There is no Sign of Peace, nor adapted signs of peace.

 

  1. Collection baskets will be marked around the church. There will be no pew to pew collections. Offerings can be given before or after Mass

 

  1. Holy Communion is not to be distributed at this time. We will receive further instruction about the resumption of the distribution of Holy Communion later in the week. We do not know the timetable for the resumption of the distribution of Holy Communion.

 

  1. We will announce adjustments and additions to the Mass schedule to allow more people to attend Mass given these restrictions.

 

  1. All parishioners are asked to use the main door, the center door at the Dartmouth Street entrance. This is to enter and exit the church. Other doors will remain locked to the outside but remain accessible for fire and emergency exiting.

 

  1. Hand sanitizers are available in the Church. They are not alcohol based. They will be replaced with alcohol based products when these become available.

 

  1. Provisions are being made to clean the Church after each Mass. Pews will be cleaned. Volunteer parishioners are asked to help in this regard. Please contact Sr. Judy at srjudy@stannesgc.org.

 

  1. Air conditioning and open windows will be used at the same time. This is to promote air flow. Please dress appropriately. Parishioners are not to open and close windows on their own.

 

  1. On Sunday, we will be having additional Masses in the cafeteria, with social distancing, to accommodate an additional 50-75 persons. On Sundays, many families attend as a group. You will be seated together and in the Church this would allow us to move closer to the 25% capacity, which would be 200 persons in our church.

 

  1. As we progress and receive more information, we will announce times for First Communion, Confirmation, Marriages, and Graduation. Baptisms and Funeral Masses have already resumed. Baptisms will occur in the St. Therese Chapel in the school when their scheduling conflicts with a larger parish celebration. We need to learn a timetable for the resumption of the distribution of Holy Communion before setting First Communion Dates. Most likely, given the limited attendance in the Church, these celebrations, for now, will be limited to immediate family, and all residing in the same household. Families will have a choice of dates once we are able to announce these. It would be foolish to announce dates without knowing when we can distribute the Body of Christ.

I realize these are tremendous adjustments. I know that not all may agree nor understand these guidelines. We pray for openness, unity, understanding, and patience. We are working hard to prepare for our re-opening. Pray for one another.

I will communicate more as information becomes available.

Sincerely in Christ,

Msgr. Thomas J. Harold

Pastor