Update. It’s hard to believe that we are already at the threshold of the holiday season. During the week, I had several meetings with the Staff, Liturgy Committee and the Diocese to review plans for the holiday season. We reviewed concerns from some parishioners as to whether or not we will need to scale down our Mass attendance as a result of the increasing rate of new coronavirus cases. I would like to let you know that our parish, in conjunction with the Diocese, is cautiously optimistic that we may not need to scale down during Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are paying attention to the news, and the guidelines from the Arizona Health Department. In spite of the rising number of new cases, we have seen that parishes like ours that have followed the precautionary safety measures, especially wearing facemasks and physical distancing, are doing well so far.
Although we have not finalized our plans for the holiday season, I would like to give you a heads up on what to anticipate for Thanksgiving, Advent, the New Liturgical Year and Christmas if things go as projected.
Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day Mass will remain at 9:00am. Due to current safety protocols, we will not observe our tradition of Thanksgiving “Bread Share” this year. St. Vincent de Paul will continue to accept non-perishable food donations and to give out food to those in need during Thanksgiving, while observing the safety measures.
Christmas. The Bishop has graciously granted permission for parishes to hold Christmas Mass beginning at 12:00pm on Christmas Eve, December 24th. This enables parishes to have more Masses to accommodate the usual higher Mass attendance at Christmas while adhering to the required limit of 35% seating capacity of the Church. The general opinion from our parish Liturgy meeting during the week is to keep our usual Christmas Eve Mass times of 4:00pm, 6:00pm, 8:00pm and 10:00pm. We might consider adding an earlier Mass or one at 12:00am Midnight if there is need. We are also considering holding two Christmas Day Masses at 8:00am and 10:00am.
Advent and New Liturgical Year. We will begin the season of Advent and New Liturgical year on the last Sunday of this month, November 29th. Giving the current circumstance, we will not hold an Advent Penance Service this year. However, in place of that, we will be offering Confessions every Friday from 5:00-6:00pm in addition to our regular Confession time on Saturday at 3:30pm. We will keep the new Confession time on Fridays throughout the new Liturgical year. Fr. Wilfred and I are also available to hear your confession anytime at your request. We are also disposed to creating more Confession times as needed during the Advent season.
St. Vincent de Paul Thanksgiving Meal Event. Our St. Vincent de Paul ministry (SVdP) is holding its annual Thanksgiving Meal Event this year with some adjustments. This year, SVdP will be providing our neighbors in need with a one bag meal kit and a $25 grocery gift card to purchase a turkey or protein of their choice. We are counting on the generosity of our parishioners to donate these meal kits, while SVdP provides the gift card.
Thank you to the Veterans. I thank all the Veterans in our parish community as we observed Veterans' Day this past Wednesday. I thank you for your sacrifice and all the risks you took to keep us safe. My special thanks to the families of our Fallen Heroes who gave their lives to protect and save us. May God continue to bless and protect our nation especially at this challenging time.
Night of Hope. I thank the parents, the entire St. John Bosco School community and all our parishioners who participated in the Night of Hope event last Thursday, November 12. The Diocese acknowledged that the participation from our SJB and St. Benedict communities were among the highest in the Diocese with over 145 people signing up from our communities alone. The Night of Hope is an annual fundraising event that supports families who cannot afford Catholic education for their children. This year, some families and organizations have graciously offered a $230,000 matching gift opportunity for anyone who donates to Catholic Education Arizona. This opportunity is open for the next 30 days. I invite you to participate and help give more families an opportunity to send their children to Catholic school. Find out more information here.
Have a wonderful weekend and Remain Blessed.
Fr. James Aboyi, VC