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For two months now, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives greatly. As a result many of us have experienced some level of fear, stress, anxiety and grief. Given the uncertainty of every day, week and beyond this is to be expected.
As a church community we are called to support one another in times such as these. And though we may not be able to console and support one another in person, we know that we are not alone because we are all part of the one Body of Christ. We are in this together, for when one part of the Body suffers, the entire Body suffers in solidarity. So we help where and when we can and we are committed to fervent prayer.
Starting on the first Sunday in June and every first Sunday thereafter we will livestream Evening Prayer from The Basilica as long as the Pandemic lasts. This Evening Prayer for Solace and Peace will be offered for all those who are affected in any way by COVID-19. You may have lost your job. You may have been diagnosed with the virus. You may be at greater risk because you are a first responder or healthcare worker , or you work in the cleaning service, as a postal worker or a bank clerk. Maybe you are alone and unable to receive loved ones. There are so many known and unknown ways we are affected by this pandemic. So it is good for us to pause and pray.
At the end of our Evening Prayer for Solace and Peace we will light candles in one of our Marian shrines. We invite you to send your intentions at mary.org/candles. We will offer those to our loving God while lighting the candles.
We especially invite those who have experienced the loss of a family member or a friend during this pandemic to join us. Grief over the death of a loved one is always profound, but this has been compounded during the pandemic. You may not have been able to be with your loved one while they passed away. You may have had to limit attendance at the funeral to a small group of people. Or you may have postponed the service to a future date. All of this is very difficult.
Please submit the names of family and friends who have died during this pandemic to mary.org/prayerrequests. As part of the service, their names will be spoken during the litany of All Saints and All Souls. We hope this service will offer some support to all those who are grieving. And it will offer all of us the opportunity to support our grieving sisters and brothers.
May we all know the healing and consolation of the resurrected Christ.
Did you attend church? How was church today? Can you believe how long church lasted? These are questions you have undoubtedly heard many times before. You probably have asked them yourself. They are all valid questions, except maybe for the last one about the length of Mass.
The current pandemic may have occasioned some new questions. Aren’t you sad we are unable to have church? Don’t you love livestreamed church? Won’t it be fantastic when we can have church again?
What all these questions have in common is that church is equated with a church service in a church building. And though church services and church buildings are a very important part of our church life, there is so much more to being church than that. The current pandemic offers us the unsolicited but hopefully renewing opportunity to think more deeply about what it means to be church.
For now, the active participation in the liturgy that is so important to all of us has been largely taken away from us. This inability to worship in our churches is compelling us to actively participate in the church beyond the liturgy and outside our church buildings. We are (re)-discovering that church is not just a building we go to and a liturgy we participate in but rather church is a way of interacting with one another and our world. In a profound sense we are no longer consumers of church rather we are (re)-discovering what it means to be creators of church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church posits that the Church is the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. All three understandings of Church root us in our relationship with our Triune God who is our creator, our savior and who inspires us. Though of course we are initiated into the church during worship and worship nourishes and heals us during our earthly journey, this three-fold understanding of church is very much outward oriented. We, as the church are meant to “seek the well-being of the City to which we have been sent, for in its well-being we will find our own.” (Our Vision Statement after the Prophet Jeremiah)
Gaudium et Spes, the 1965 Constitution on the Church in the Modern World makes it abundantly clear that the church exists in and for the world. It states that “it is the duty of the whole People of God, following the word and example of the bishops, to alleviate as far as they are able the sufferings of the modern age.” This mission has a great urgency today. Though we may not be able to gather in church for church, our calling to be church is more important than ever.
Today, on the Solemnity of Pentecost we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of our church. Let’s implore the Holy Spirit to inspire us to find ever new ways to realize our mission of creation, salvation and inspiration in this ever changing and ever more complex world.
Come Holy Spirit!
Prayer of Pope Francis during the Coronavirus Pandemic
O Mary, you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that,as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of resurrection.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God.
Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver
us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Volunteer leaders at The Basilica serve in many roles across the parish, leading individual ministries, volunteer teams and planning for the future. One group critical to our leadership structure is our Parish Council.
We invite you to cast your ballot online for our candidates for the Parish Council at www.mary.org/vote. The election will run from May 26-June 5. On the ballot this year is incumbent Aara Johnson running for a second term to represent Christian Life and Steven Kim is the candidate for Liturgy and Sacred Arts.
The Council is a consultative group charged with assisting the Pastor and staff in discerning the needs, ambitions and desires of the Parish community and carrying out its mission in the city.
Made up of 6 elected, 5 appointed and 4 ex-officio members, the Parish Council advises Fr. Bauer about issues happening in our parish and the local Catholic Church. Council members offer their time, expertise and guidance as challenges arise.
Elected members represent critical areas of ministry including Liturgy and Sacred Arts, Learning and Christian Life. Appointees include 3 at large members, and representatives of the Finance and Development Committees. In their role as corporate officers our two trustees, Fr. Bauer, and the Managing Director serve as ex-officio members by nature of their roles, on both the Finance Committee and the Parish Council.
The Council’s primary role is to ensure that we have a Strategic Plan, and that our parish focuses thoughtfully and planfully on the future. The Our Parish, Our Future Strategic Plan was approved in late 2018. Since that time the Council has worked with parish leaders and staff to identify and implement new ways of working together and new approaches to ministry through the lens of transformative arts, preventing homelessness and inclusion This work is being done with an ongoing commitment to excellence and welcome in Liturgies and Sacred Arts, Learning opportunities for all ages, and Christian Life initiatives like outreach and advocacy for those most in need.
With a new perspective I can share that there is nothing like a pandemic to crystalize the importance of active volunteer leaders willing to share their expertise and guidance. Reacting to the impacts of a global pandemic was not part of our parish Strategic Plan and together we are breaking new ground.
However, as we wrestled with how to meet the challenges of the pandemic, the foundation of the Strategic Plan is helping us move into an uncertain future. Some plan initiatives like live streaming of daily and Sunday Masses that we thought wouldn’t happened for years, are being realized simply due to necessity.
Our aspirations have not changed. We seek to offer a home of spiritual nourishment, to be a beacon of hope and serve as an advocate for change as we seek the well-being of the city. With the help of our current and future parish leaders, The Basilica of Saint Mary will continue to grow and thrive through and beyond the pandemic.