Pastor's Letter 9/6 - 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am sure you have been concerned about the divisions in our country, and even the hatred and violence that have been increasing in many parts. I think that the pandemic restrictions have exacerbated the situation. As we approach the fall, and the November elections, I fear that the tensions and vitriol will only increase. Although we may disagree, even within our parish, over many things, I hope we can all agree on one thing: our country and our culture need prayers. As your pastor, I would like to ask you to set aside some time each week for prayer that you would not usually do – whatever prayer appeals to you. It would be good if you could set aside 15 minutes or 30 minutes or even an hour. I also believe that there are certain spirits that only go out by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). Therefore, I would also like to ask you – if your health permits – to choose at least one meal a week (from now until the crisis we are going through has passed) and fast from that meal. The three traditional acts of piety are: prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so I would also ask you to consider giving some alms to the poor. We need to ask our Lord to give us light in the present darkness, and to bring good out of evil, as only he can do.
Just a reminder that our Bishop has said that everyone is expected to wear a mask when they come to Mass, and to maintain a physical distance of six feet (unless they are family members or live together). I know that not everyone likes to wear a mask, but I would ask you please to do so out of charity for others. Many people are very afraid, and have high levels of anxiety, and are not coming to Mass when they see people without masks on.
Our Bishop has also asked us to consider receiving Communion on the hand during this time. There are some people who are afraid to receive Communion after someone else has received on the tongue before them. Out of charity for others, please consider doing what our Bishop has asked us to do. If you are going to receive on the tongue, please wait until after everyone else has received, and remember to stick your tongue out so that the hand of the minister of Holy Communion will not have to touch your tongue. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation on this.
We have additional seating in the balcony and in the parish hall. If you arrive for Mass and the Church doors to the Sanctuary are closed, please use either of the other two locations.
Saint Joseph’s Table, our parish pantry ministry, served 31 families last week, a new record! There continues to be a need in our community. Thank you to everyone for your generosity, especially for the anonymous donation of a new refrigerator/freezer.
Epiphany Catholic School opened on August 26th. It was a blessing to welcome more than 150 children back into the classrooms. The August appeal is underway to supplement the tuition assistance fund. The yellow flyer in the vestibule has a sponsor coupon at the bottom to use with your donation, if you find you are able to help. Last year, 23 students benefitted from your donations. Thank you for your generosity! This year, a gift of $6,250 would cover the annual cost of tuition for one student. Any gift is appreciated.
The first school Mass will be Friday, September 11, at 8:30 AM. Please note that on Fridays during the school year the only Mass will be at the school, however, due to the covid safety guidelines, no outside visitors will be permitted to attend. If a particular Friday there is no Mass at Epiphany for any reason, we will have Mass at Precious Blood. We will do our best to announce the location weekly.
Thank you for continuing to be a source of prayerful support as they manage the day-today challenges.
Our Religious Education program will begin next Sunday, September 13. For children, CCD is offered from Kindergarten through 12th grade; for adults we have RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) in English (beginning September 14 at 7 PM) and RICA for Spanish speakers (beginning September 13 at 3:30 PM). There are also separate sessions for children or youth. For CCD, most students will be studying at home, and some will come to our parish campus.
We are grateful to our parishioners who are able to continue to support the parish during this time as we still have our payroll expenses. We would like to encourage you to sign up for FaithDirect, by going to: https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/va226 Thank you for your continued generosity.