Last Saturday afternoon we were preparing for parish Masses with a limit of 250 people. Then the new guideline was issued that capped the upper limit at 50 people. Now we are operating under CDC guidelines that all gatherings should stay under 10 people. So much has changed within just 72 hours. To say that this crisis is evolving quickly is a huge understatement.
In all of this, I am grateful for your prayers, your patience, and your charity as I try to communicate information to you. This is clearly not “business as usual”, and the demands of social distancing are causing us to find entirely new ways of doing things. I have received further guidance from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. They are telling us to plan for this situation to last for at least 8 weeks. With great sadness, our celebration of Holy Week and Easter will be affected this year. A parish wide Easter mailing was mailed this week. In it you will find your Easter Offering envelope and our schedule of services and Masses which will be live streamed online without the physical presence of the faithful. As we get nearer, I will share more information.
Although things are certain to change, I want to offer a few updates on what we are doing as a parish family right now:
Daily Mass at 9:00am and Sunday Mass at 9:30am will be streamed on our social media and website without the physical presence of the faithful until further notice. The only ones who can attend attend Mass is strictly limited to the ministers of the Mass such as organist, cantor, lector, server. I would encourage to you inform your Crofton/Seton friends and neighbors to stay connected and watch Mass online via our Parish Website by clicking MEDIA or this link, you don’t need to join Facebook. Just follow the directions here: https://www.seaseton.org/Resources/News/ID/3107
You can also “CHECK IN” while watching Mass online at Seton!
Here’s a “how to” video and help me spread the word about Seton Parish. When you do this, it helps people who search “church webcast” will find the best website will show up on the first page of a search engine. It‘s called Search Engine Optimization. “How to video” at this link
THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION:
THIS SATURDAY (Tomorrow), MARCH 21, I will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 1:00pm—3pm. I will let you in ONE AT A TIME through the Main Entrance of the church. I will be doing this in the Narthex in order to keep social distance. If you decide to come please maintain the social distancing guidelines as you wait to come in. More opportunities for Reconciliation will be announced later.
EUCHARISTIC ADORATION AND PRIVATE PRAYER:
I have decided to cancel Adoration to encourage people to stay home and safe.
PARISH OFFICE HOURS:
With the constant recommendations to practice social distancing, and with many of our parish programs and activities temporarily paused, our public office have been modified. The Parish office will be open Monday-Friday from 9:00am-1:00pm. Some of our staff will be working remotely, via email and phone. They are ready to help, but may not be in the office even though they are working. So please make sure you call the parish before stopping by!
OFFERTORY AND EASTER MAILING:
The economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic are going to be enormous. Many of our parish families, whose livelihood is connected to industries and services that have been restricted, are going to face very real struggles ahead. Our parish too will be impacted in a dramatic way as we look at weeks, or longer, of not being able to come together as a parish family. While we can scale back some of our expenses during this time, there are still fixed costs associated with our campus buildings and facilities that won't go away. And most importantly, I want to provide for our staff and employees as best we can in these days.
During this time, our parish's electronic giving option is an easy and secure way to help support the parish even when we are unable to gather as a parish family. If you haven't made use of it in the past, this is a great time to make the switch by signing up for our online giving, GiveCentral. Please email Susan.Iacaruso@seaseton.org if you need assistance in setting it up. Here is the parish link for your convenience: https://www.givecentral.org/location/454. You may also drop off your Offertory during business hours (M-F, 9am-1pm). Just call ahead! During these uncertain days, I thank you for your support and generosity!
Our Easter mailing went out this week. It includes the regular Holy Week and Easter schedule. I ask that you please keep in mind that this schedule is subject to change according to the COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions that will be in place at that time. The need is especially great right now so please mail or drop of your Easter gift to the parish or sign-up for online giving with GiveCentral.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PRAYER AT HOME:
FREE Digital Magnificat -To help sanctify your day and to keep walking in the liturgical rhythm of the Church, here is the online version of MAGNIFICAT. It is temporarily available to everyone for free.
Click here for Magnificat in English.
Click here for Magnificat in Spanish.
For the Daily Mass readings, click here
I am planning to say the Angelus at 12 Noon every day and broadcast it live on Facebook. Click “Angelus” for more information.
Click on this link for a video version of the Stations of the Cross.
John Russell has put together a number of resources for our families with children. Please utilize these resources and share them with others:
If you have younger children, here is a resource for doing Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW) at home (click here).
Thursday Faith Formation resources are on our website (click here) and scroll down to Children’s Faith Formation. We have both the teaching guide and student materials available for download.
John recorded the March Family Faith Formation parent’s presentation and it’s available for you to view on our website (click here).
For Middle School Students – the Archdiocese is hosting a free on-line virtual gathering for Middle School students this Sunday at 2:00pm. Follow this link to participate: www.facebook.com/YouthinChristMD
For High School Students – Starting this Sunday, there’s a free nationwide virtual youth night happening every Sunday at 8:00 pm eastern time. There will be games, music and a teaching from one of the top Catholic youth ministry speakers in the country. This week it’s Paul J Kim – he’s hilarious! Follow this link to participate: www.projectym.com/live
We’ve linked to a beautiful video meditation on the Stations of the Cross from Busted Halo (click here)
Parents, if you’re looking for tips on supporting your children through this time, we really recommend that you follow Roy Petitfils. He’s posting daily tips on his Facebook page (click here) and his podcasts are amazing.
THOSE IN NEED:
If you are an elderly or sick parishioner in need of groceries or other items please contact the parish office and we will work on getting you the help you need.
WAYS TO GET INVOLVED:
The Parish is currently working in conjunction with the American Red Cross to help with their increasing need for blood. We are currently hosting our second blood drive in as many day today from 10am-1pm. If you would like to try and donate today please us the following link:
We are working with the Red Cross to hopefully set up a blood drive a week during this current time of need and will keep you informed as we get those dates. Please be patient with the process as the Red Cross must follow the same CDC guidelines as the rest of us.
College Students! We mentioned in an earlier message that we are looking for ways to get college students home from school involved in helping out. Our Food Pantry is currently in need of people to stock shelves and fill bags for them. If you are interested in helping please send an email to email@example.com and we will work on getting you involved. More opportunities to come.
We are using Flocknote, the parish website and parish Facebook page as the primary means of communicating in this time of crisis. If you know of a fellow parishioner who is not yet on the Flocknote system, please encourage them to email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the parish’s Facebook page by searching for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, Crofton, Maryland on Facebook. I also keep a personal Facebook page which you are welcome to view… just search for Paul Sparklin on Facebook.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK AND EMERGENCIES:
If you are having surgery or a procedure soon or if there is a sacramental emergency, please contact the Parish Office for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Depending on the institution, there are protocols that I, as a priest, would need to follow, especially if I cannot be physically present in the room with your loved one.
Finally, it is with heavy heart that a long time parishioner, Bill Conroy, passed away last Sunday morning. Bill was the Office Manager at Seton from 2005-2006. He was also instrumental in starting up our Winter Relief Program ten years ago while volunteering at House of Hope. Please pray for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his wife, Kathy, and his family. Click here for the link of his obituary.
Please know that you are in my prayers each and every day and I am asking the Lord to soon reunite us at his altar. I miss seeing you all and I’ll be in touch with more updates!
Fr Paul Sparklin