Dear Parish Family,
I trust, through the grace of God that this letter finds you well. Given the enormous changes that we are living through, I must acknowledge that as a priest, I have never experienced a more difficult time, especially the suspension of public Masses and parish gatherings.
The current situation presents all of us with many challenges that through our daily prayers and our trust in God, we will see come to an end very soon. May we use this time after Easter as an opportunity to ask God’s guidance, protection, and blessings to end the spread of this deadly virus. Several weeks ago, our schools resumed with our teachers doing an amazing job preparing for online learning and preparing for the small group that need to come to school. Red, Tita, Angel and Maria, are working from home and alternating their days at the parish office. I certainly miss the daily encounter with all of you, but this current arrangement of distancing and restrictions will come to an end and when that does happen, I plan for us to gather both for the celebration of Mass and for catching up with friends once again. I take this opportunity to thank our school principals and all our school staff for their commitment towards our children.
Parents, may I acknowledge the challenges confronting you with at home and back to school learning and with everything else that goes with it. True we cannot get to our church worshipping centre at this time, in the physical parish sense, but the life of the Church is present in your families, in your household and in your circumstances, no matter what that might be, being part of the Body of Christ and part of your life at the moment. Please note that we do miss you and long to be reunited with you when all this passes. Here at St James the church building extensions continue, as we look forward to its completion later in the year.
The Corona Virus, dear friends, has helped us, families, school teachers and students, realise that churches are not being closed; buildings are being closed, we are the Body of Christ! The gospel is not constrained by quarantine, because Jesus is bigger than Corona Virus! God can, and is, moving powerfully during this time; our challenge is to prayerfully discern where the Holy Spirit is moving and then go there and join in the work.
Some ways in which we, as a parish, have been serving the community have been:
• delivering groceries and medicines;
• dropping off parish bulletins for people unable to manage the internet;
• advertising support to parishioners struggling with anxiety and loneliness or young children and those in self-isolation;
• making care calls;
• ministering to families and our youth, as they experience long days at home;
• remaining connected by using the Zoom platform for many meetings;
• setting up online faith sharing;
• communicating to the youth and young adult groups, and
• offering online Masses.
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many parishioners ministering to us at this time with food drop offs
I think that when the dust settles, we will all realise how very little we need, how very much we actually have, and the true value of human connections. I thank Fr Silvio and Dcn Royden for their invaluable support and outreach to the community at this time, and all the facilitators of our ministries.
God bless you all.
Go gently, stay safe and keep smiling!
Fr Jude Pirotta mssp