It was a Saturday through to another Sunday, 9 days.
Our office staff had a couple of people out, due to a positive virus test, but they were to recover and get back to work. A couple of covid-related deaths happened in the parish in this novena of winter days. The news coming to us was that it was a serious corona-virus peak going on in Maryland. It was putting disappointment in the public again; Riderwood got affected by all its dining halls closing in the Retirement Village, going to a home food delivery plan. Thankfully, it did not close our Wednesday and Sunday Masses for the community in their chapel, so it kept assembling. I had three of the four liturgies to pray there and a good number of Catholics there came out for it.
We had snow hit us on the bookends of this stretch, needing the plow company to come out into our church lot. The snow was nice to see, but not the bill for its removal on our lot and sidewalks! Still, it was a new thing to see snow arrive around here.
Weather did not stop a Catholic men’s meeting on Saturday past, and I gave a men’s morning talk on Catholic saints, blesseds, venerables, and servants of God that are of Maryland connection and/or of USA service. I enjoyed preparing the talk, reflecting on past visits I have made to sites of John Neumann, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Kateri Tekawitha and N.A. Martyrs, Rose P. Duschesne, Andre Bessette, Junipero Serra, and others. I have made it a pastime to learn about North America’s Saints and other holy ones, and it was enjoyable to share it out.
Writing bulletin articles or daily homilies is a regular happy effort for me, too. I just started a new column of sharing my delight with the words of Scripture in Handel’s “Messiah” in a series for January and February bulletins.
I took some time this week to think and plan ahead. I gave some thought to our Lenten plan for the parish, in these pandemic times. I decided that we will repeat the drive-through ashes and some talks by me or Fr. Virginus put up on our parish web site. Those plans were received well in 2021. We will use the FORMED program more this Lenten season on our website; it’s still too much of a secret treasure.
A whole bunch of funerals came our way in this stretch of time of January. All got scheduled and served. Five of the eight day stretch had a funeral. It happens to get busy like this sometimes in early January, as some people just ”let go” after Christmas and New Years time. But it was much to cover here.
Two of those Masses of Christian Burial I did were for a 96 and a 100-year-old man, both who had seen WWII service and action. All the funerals necessitated a lot of time to spend with families, first in visitations, and then in liturgy planning or counseling time, and then the few hours of a funeral day to spend with the Mass and burial and possible reception. It was honor to be involved in their send-off to Glory, great Catholic men, family men, and devotees to our nation’s well-being. Along with the five funerals for here or Riderwood to cover in ministry, two other parish deaths occurred scheduled for the following Wednesday and Sunday. We do our best to be pastoral in this work of mercy (bury the dead). We have a few staff to help me out and Fr. Virginus, with pastoral lay teams to assist for Resurrection or Riderwood funerals, which makes it go so well and sensitively each time.
Each week we have some hospital or home visits to make, too.
I try to schedule a visit to my Mom each week, and I got out to see her for a few hours this week at her house. I try to gather each Thursday afternoon and evening with friends. It’s my time off, like my own version of a Saturday off, except mine is Thursday.
Our regional Catholic school that we support from Resurrection is at St. Andrew’s parish in Wheaton. They are getting a new pastor this next week. I had a visit with him and lunch to welcome him into our region.
I mentioned above about parish funerals. There also were a couple of deaths of clergy friends in this past week. A permanent deacon and a retired priest friend of mine died, too, in the week, but I just couldn’t go to either one– that in Leonardtown and in Capitol Hill DC– as the distance and weather and my being tired had me decline them. It was too bad for me, for I enjoyed the country man deacon as well as worked well with the DC Jesuit priest who shared parish ministry and NIH Hospital ministry with me. Yet these two outside liturgies came at a time when I was most busy.
On day eight of this stretch, a Sunday, it snowed and so put me home for resting by 4:30 p.m. I watched the NFL football games, while getting some things accomplished on the computer notebook, like this blog, for example. A Sunday ago I watched another NFL game, doing so at a parishioners home. I like watching sports to relax. I took in a Terps Basketball Game, too, on one night over in College Park, joining my brother and his wife.
Some other highlights of time in the span involved our parish council meeting by Zoom, the two weekends of Masses and daily Masses in-between, and doing marriage prep for two couples with their big day coming on soon. I had a several-hour priest prayer meeting mid-week. I read part of a book “Missionary of Wall Street.” I heard my usual three hours of confessions in the parish lot from my car to the confessee in the astriding vehicle, over 20 persons came by for it. Adoration of the Eucharist coincides with this Friday afternoon time, and one of my best blessings of each and every week is to see all the persons coming in vehicles to pray to Jesus at the Tabernacle in view, and having time to be praying with them from my own car to The Lord (in-between the confessions).
I also appreciate the good numbers coming to our Monday to Friday Masses at Resurrection all the time, and on Wednesdays at Riderwood. The Lord in Eucharist is our special communion/ connection.
The staff and I had to make some decisions in the week on safely dealing with the new variant factor. With some sadness but with sober reality settling in, we cancelled our Religious Ed programs until a Feb. 13th reassessment date. We cancelled the 9 a.m. Sunday family Mass, too, for that same period ahead. We shortened the Sunday liturgy to make it end sooner, but added a new Holy Communion procedure to have less persons intersecting or standing nearby others. We decided our weekend liturgy is going fine and safe, otherwise, thanks to the cooperation of many good folks to it here.
The parish has its business end that I cover with the help of staff and some volunteers. My work does involve being an employer and plant manager of buildings. I take responsibility for the physical business as well as spiritual care of Resurrection. There is a staff team to share our efforts and collaborate for various responsibilities here, and I appreciate the talent around me–hoping the monies come in to keep providing for each of them. I manage it all, but only by the grace of God and your own love and support for this Catholic parish and community and clergy.
On a snowy evening as I finish this, while still following some football on tv, I pray for the home situation here, as Fr. Michael Niba, our in-resident, is preparing to go back to Cameroon soon ahead. I had his company and friendship here in this home all throughout the pandemic. We care for one another and have mutual respect. Our journeys have been in the same time period of clergy work since 1988, but his has been in classrooms in Africa or elsewhere across the Atlantic, while mine have been here in Maryland in eight parishes, five as pastor. We have shared our perspectives and cultural approaches freely and candidly. I will miss him when he is called back to his home diocese.
This blog was meant to be a window for you to look at some of what happened in the life of your pastor over January 8th to 16th.