Fr. Tom's message from March 20th below. Click here for his message from March 27th.
Today as I write this to you it is the Feast of St. Joseph, husband to Mary and foster father of Jesus, Our Lord. How blessed we are to have this intercession for our parish family and for each one of our families. He was the protector and provider for Mary and Jesus as they made their home in the small town of Nazareth. He is still the protector of Jesus' Holy Family, the Church and so we go to him with confidence and ask for his help in this time of trouble. We pray for the needs of our families and our parish and also for the whole family of nations that God will be merciful and deliver us quickly from this disease and the distress it is causing. Our parish St. Joseph day diner will be rescheduled so stay in touch!
Our holy father, Pope Francis and our Bishop Edward Malesic have asked us to pray and do penance, make sacrifices that we can offer to the Lord for those who are most in need at this time. Including the sick and those who are caring for them and all the support staff that are needed to keep our health care system in good order. We also pray for our society and its business community that provides for the employment and economic well being of our families. We pray too for our government officials, both elected and appointed to lead us to resolve this difficult challenge (without giving in to prejudice and division) by focusing on the common good for our families.
We join the family of faith to continue to be mindful of the poor and those who Jesus describes as the "least of our brothers and sisters." We have a wonderful history of serving our families and the greater community. I encourage you to remember the example of the lives of the saints.
The health crisis that we are currently in helps us be more aware of how many good people serve our parish in a variety of ministries and how grateful we are for their generous and faithful service. We continue to count on your support and we commit to assist all the members of our parish to grow and mature in the practice of the Faith.
While we are not able to offer public worship or devotions at this time, the church is still open for personal and private prayers from 7 AM to 7 PM every day. The practice of making Spiritual Communion is encouraged by many saints and to assist you in this we enclose a short prayer for this devotion. The safety of our community is the reason for the prudent decision to ask anyone who comes to church to maintain a safe distance (about 6 feet) from one another while in the church or anywhere in public spaces. So while the Sacrament of Penance is still available at the regular schedule time please keep a respectful distance while gathering/waiting for your turn and because the confessional does not provide the prudent safe distance we will use the priest sacristy for confessions. We also will offer the Sacrament of Penance on Tuesday evenings from 5 to 7 PM and Friday evenings from 7 to 8 PM.
The practice of praying the Stations of the Cross is a good devotion for personal use and with your spouse and family. The booklets are available in the entrance of the church and you are welcome to use them here and also to take them home. The praying of the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy are also excellent ways to make intercessions for one anther and when prayed in a small group we ask you again to keep the prudent distance (about 6 feet) from each other.
There are many helpful resources to keep us connected to our parish and Diocese and one another. These can be accessed through our parish website: www.saintbernardparish.org and the Diocese of Greensburg website: www.dioceseofgreensburg.org. We also recommend other Links to prayers, devotions, meditations, scripture reading and Bible studies – Our parish subscribes to a Catholic Service called FORMED which gives us free access to good Christian movies and Faith Formation programs, some of these we are using currently in our Religious Education and Sacramental prep program. All are welcome to make us of this resource. You can connect through our parish website.
We recently conducted a parish stewardship program and asked each member to review their financial support to our parish. The generous response was clear in the increased regular offertory collection – We also began an on-line giving resource which we encourage more members to make use of at osvonlindgiving.com/4873. It is not complicated and our secretary will gladly assist anyone who wants to make use of this. We are also currently conducting our Annual Diocesan Lenten Appeal. The response so far is very good and we are already at 65% of our Diocesan target. Because of the uncertainty of this stressful time we understand that adjustments in our finances will need to be addressed. We will delay any unnecessary spending at this time but still plan to move ahead with our parish project when things begin to improve. Your ongoing financial support is appreciated and we ask you to mail in or drop off your weekly or monthly envelops or make use of our on-line giving option.
We are open not closed but prudent practices are being observed in the separation of staff in the offices and keeping our physical distance from one another when in the church. You are welcome and encouraged to come and pray. Come and intercede for one another and keep in touch with one another by phone, letter, internet and social media. Continue to use this Lenten season for personal and family spiritual growth through the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Make good use of the practice of Spiritual Communion and participation in the Spiritual and Corporal works of Mercy.
While public Mass is suspended at this time Funeral Mass will be provided as needed but we ask the families to restrict the attendance to family members. If you are in need of the Anointing of the sick, I will come when called as I am able. Hopefully this health crisis will come to an end soon and I look forward to being together especially at the Altar of the Lord for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I offer a daily private Mass for all of us, as well as the praying of the Rosary and other prayers Please call if you have any questions or needs. More information will be on our parish website.
WRITTEN BY ST. ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
And I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
And unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
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