I hope everyone is bearing up under the circumstances of this Novel Corona/Covid-19 pandemic. So far, I am not aware of anyone in our parish who has tested positive for the virus, though I have heard of those who have in other parishes. We should keep all who have been affected by this pandemic in our prayers, which in one way or another is really all of us, but especially health care workers and first responders.
A DIFFICULT JOB MADE MORE DIFFICULT
On the news I’ve seen images of nurses and doctors having to wear isolation gowns, masks, slippers, etc. I remember when I worked in the Intensive Care Unit at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington back in 1979 and 1980. I remember the times when we had a patient in isolation and all of us who worked in the unit had to put on all of what is now called “Personal Protective Equipment” or PPE. I remember how quickly you got to feeling hot and sweaty wearing that equipment, and how challenging it could be to perform the simplest of tasks with gloves, gowns and masks that never fit very well, nor were at all comfortable. So please keep all of these people in your prayers.
In a special way, pray for all of those who are in hospital or nursing homes who cannot be visited by loved ones and who feel terribly isolated. Pray also for their loved ones who at times feel helpless and sad at this situation.
REGULAR BELLS AT SAINT AGNES
At Saint Agnes, our “digital bell system” normally rings on the hour and quarter hour. It rings five minutes before a Mass is to begin. It also plays seasonal religious music for 6-7 minutes, before Masses begin (except for the 6:30 AM Mass). The system also tolls the Angelus at 8 AM and 6 PM, as well as the Nunc Dimittis at 9 PM to end the day.
SPECIAL BELLS AT SAINT AGNES
In addition to the normal times, we are now tolling the bell-system at 3 PM, the “Hour of Mercy” at the request of Bishop Foys, (and Pope Francis I believe), the “Hour of Divine Mercy” which of course is the hour of Jesus’ death. The bell system is also now playing Patriotic Music for a few minutes at 8 PM each evening at the suggestion of some parishioners, for the benefit of Fort Wright and Park Hills residents.
I am currently on the lookout for some green light bulbs to put in window lamps, in memory of those who have died from Covid-19, as are many in our area and around our state.
DAILY MASSES AND SUNDAY MASSES AT SAINT AGNES
Father Jason and myself are continuing to say Masses daily, though privately. I think it is very important that this aspect of our parish life continue on in some fashion, even if not ideal. In the Season of Advent, up until December 17, we are given reflections upon how we are a people who live in the “in between times” between Jesus’ First and Second Comings. As Christ’s Church, we are always keeping a vigil, as we have been for the past 2,000 years. Daily Mass is a beautiful component of that “keeping vigil.”
It is also a great thing, to everyday remind ourselves by celebrating the Mass, which is a Sacramental/Mystical Commemoration of the Paschal Mystery. What we commemorated last week in Holy Week and Easter is, in the end, the most important event in human history. That is why our church insists that we all should participate in this commemoration at least once a week, on Sunday, the Day of the Resurrection and also the first day of the week in the “New Creation.” For many centuries now, daily Mass has been a very special part of Christ’s Church’s “Vigil-keeping.”
I hate to bring up things financially in the midst of all of this, but feel I have a duty to keep our parish informed of a serious situation. As of April 15, our offertory collections were $74,000 under budget. We budget things very tightly, so this is a big concern. We simply do not have large reserves of savings. We were substantially behind our budget before we had to suspend public Masses, but obviously, our not having Sunday Masses and the regular offertory collections are making the problem worse. I have no idea when we will be able to return to Sunday Masses.
This is coupled and made even more serious with some large expenses that we will have to find a way to finance.
∙ Much of the carpeting in our school building will have to be replaced. It is a safety issue which is only getting worse. This will be quite expensive, well over $100,000.
∙ This past week, we learned that the compressor system for the air conditioning system for our church and for Murphy Hall is shot and will need to be replaced. We don’t have a professional estimate yet, but ballpark estimates place it in the tens of thousands of dollars. With summer coming on, this compressor unit will have to be replaced.
Some of you have responded quite generously in recent weeks to this dilemma. Some have mailed in their Sunday offerings. Others have made arrangements for their “Qualified Charitable Deductions” or “Donor Advised Charitable Funds.” Thank you very much!
I realize just about everyone’s income has become more precarious in these last weeks. So it is all the more important that those who can do more, do so. It took us a while to get righted and there was a lot of hurt when we had to make some very difficult decisions during the 2008 economic downturn. So it is important for all of us to reach down and do our best, for the sake of our parish and its ministries, including our school.
Pray for our parish! And for all persons, “especially those in most need of prayers.”
God bless you,
Father Mark Keene, Pastor