Discontinuation of Mass

My Dear, dear parishioners-

“God is our refuge and strength, ever-present in times of trouble.” – Ps. 46:2

Throughout these past weeks, St. Mary’s has been proactive in our response to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Our concern for the health and safety of all in our parish and school communities continues to be paramount. The discontinuation of the Sign of Peace during Mass and removal of the Holy Water fonts are just two examples of actions taken. Our maintenance personnel has been working overtime cleaning the Church after each Mass. To supplement their efforts, I recently purchased a $4,000.00 piece of equipment that is a high-powered, industrial-strength ion cleaning unit to be used in all buildings on campus.

As this continually evolving situation develops and becomes more critical, our Bishop John O. Barres has made some difficult but wise decisions. As of this afternoon at 3:00 PM, all Masses (weekday and weekend), liturgies, devotions, meetings, and non-essential activities in our parish are suspended or postponed through Tuesday, April 14, 2020. This decision will include all Holy Week and Easter Liturgies, which will be televised and available online. Click here to read the full memo from the Office of the Vicar General

We need to support Bishop Barres in this challenging time. His decision to suspend Masses and all prayer services did not come easy for him. He struggled with this and explored alternative solutions, but with new laws in place, there was no other alternative. I know he brought it to prayer because of his great love for the Holy Mass. And, so as difficult as this decision was, he has acted with a true shepherd’s heart, caring and protecting his flock.

These restrictions also include all Confirmations, First Communions, First Confessions, etc. The Diocese of Rockville Centre will do its best to work with parishes in the coming weeks and months regarding the rescheduling of Sacraments. Funerals and weddings may be permitted if necessary, but must be limited to immediate family and remain under 50 people in attendance. Baptisms should be postponed unless deemed necessary and should observe the same limits.

The priests of St. Mary’s will fulfill all Mass intention obligations in private Mass. Benediction is suspended indefinitely. Adoration will take place in the main Church for silent prayer only. However, we must observe the recommendation of fewer than 50 people permitted at a time.

Reconciliation Monday is also canceled. Confessions will be heard as needed, but we will exercise prudence and common sense by maintaining the recommended 6 feet safe distance. We will not host gatherings of people for penance services.

Currently, St. Mary’s Elementary and High School are closed along with all public and private schools in Nassau County by order of the Nassau County Executive and will remain closed for two weeks. We continue to monitor the situation and will adapt and update as needed. Our parish Religious Education Program will remain suspended until further notice. Again, we continue to monitor the situation and will adapt and update as needed. Our Religious Education families received a memo with this information.

While some may see these actions as drastic measures, I believe our Bishop, in his prudence and discernment, has acted for the protection of all. I am very grateful to Bishop Barres for making these difficult decisions. I found the words of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to be rational and comforting these past few days. His great concern is the potential sharp influx of patients to our already overtaxed area hospitals. These facilities need to be prepared to provide intensive care to these patients and have the space to accommodate them. By taking these precautionary measures of isolation, together, we are all taking the crucial step to slow down the spread of this disease.

The postponement of my surgery that was scheduled for today is indicative of the plans our healthcare system is putting into place for what lies ahead these coming weeks. I was very humbled and touched by the outpouring of prayers and support by you, my parishioners. I thank you all for your concern.

I urge you as always, as your pastor to not separate yourself from God during these times. I ask you to pray, to pray, and to pray some more for those who are ill, their caregivers, our medical professionals who are on the front line in this battle, and for each one of us.

Please be assured of the concerns and prayers from your priests here at the Church of Saint Mary. You will receive communications from the parish to keep you abreast of any updates, so please watch your email. If you know of someone who is not receiving our messages, please ask them to contact the Parish Office with their address or send an email to communications@stmary.ws.

As the psalmist reminds us, we should turn to God in times of trouble.

In Jesus and Mary, Helper of the Sick,
Fr. Bob

Watch for Information Regarding Our Upcoming Online Events*

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Feast of St. Joseph Prayer Service for Healing – Livestream from St. Mary’s
7:30 PM

Friday, March 20, 2020
Stations of the Cross with the Priests of St. Mary’s
7:30 PM

Sunday, March 22, 2020
10:00 AM Mass – Livestream from St. Mary’s

*These events are not open to the public but can be accessed via the parish website www.stmary.ws and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stmarys11030/. We will send you the links as they become available for each event.