FROM THE PASTOR
With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Christmas at The Basilica: While Christmas was very different this year because of the pandemic, there were also many blessings associated with it. Our staff did a great job of adapting, adjusting, and pivoting to help make our Christmas celebrations safe, meaningful, and reverent. They registered and checked people in for our Masses, they helped with livestreaming the Masses, and they also assisted in various liturgical ministries. I am very grateful to them—and to those volunteers—who made this year’s Christmas celebrations so special. As pastor of The Basilica, I have much to be proud of and even more to be grateful for this year.
2. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank all those who made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign this past fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge—no matter the size—is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries, and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community.
In regard to our parish finances, I especially want to thank all those who contributed financially to The Basilica this past year and particularly at Christmas. Your generosity helped us surpass our income goal for December, which is a very important month for us. Thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support of our parish.
3. Lent: As a child I never really appreciated Lent. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for me, and for all of us. During this special season I invite and encourage you to look at your calendar and to plan on participating virtually or in-person in the services and activities that will be offered at The Basilica. Visit mary.org for a list of our Lenten activities and services.
4. Catholic Services Appeal: The 2021 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) will begin the weekend of February 20 and 21. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services, and programs within our Archdiocese. Now obviously, many people are concerned that contributions to the Archdiocese will be used for purposes they didn’t intend. In this regard, it is important to note that The Catholic Services Appeal is an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. This was done, to insure that all the money that is collected through the Appeal would go directly and solely to the ministries, services, and programs supported by the CSA. No CSA funds go to the Archdiocese.
By pooling the financial resources from generous donors throughout our diocese, much important and necessary work is funded by the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal. I support it financially and I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services, and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information at csafspm.org.
5. Maintenance Update: This summer and fall we undertook some major tuck-pointing on the western exterior walls of The Basilica. Fortunately, this work was able to be completed before the cold weather set in. This tuck-pointing will help seal the exterior of The Basilica from water infiltration. Given the age of The Basilica, we anticipate that tuck-pointing some part of the exterior of our beautiful Basilica will be an annual maintenance item. We are blessed in that The Basilica Landmark paid for this work.
Speaking of water, we had a minor flood on Christmas Day in the lower level of The Basilica. A sprinkler head broke in the St. Vincent de Paul storage room in the lower level of the church and the flooring and several items in the storage room as well as the carpeting in the Teresa of Calcutta Hall were saturated with water. Fortunately, we were able to turn off the water and get a company to dry vacuum the carpet and get dehumidifiers set up. Things were going well until a week later the tubing on the coffee maker in the lower level sprung a leak and the carpet was once again saturated. The same company returned to dry vacuum the carpet and set up dehumidifiers. The good news in this situation is that because of the pandemic no activities were scheduled for the lower level, and most of the cost of the repairs will be covered by our insurance.
6. Parish Life during the Pandemic: While most of our activities, services, and ministries are being conducted virtually, we continue to ask the question of when, how, and where, we can resume some of these activities on campus. At this point, and for the foreseeable future, we are making decisions on a case by case basis. We also continue to look for new opportunities/ways to celebrate the life of our parish community.
Clearly, we all miss the opportunities to gather and celebrate our faith. We miss gathering with others, worshipping, and praying together. We also miss the opportunities to give witness to that faith through our community activities. When we gather again as we used to—and I believe we will—it is my hope and sincere prayer that church will have a renewed meaning for all of us.
7. Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Initiative: In 2016, after the death of Philando Castile, The Basilica recognized a need to address the important issue of racism in our parish, in our lives, and in society. As we began this work, we partnered with Penumbra Theatre and Sarah Bellamy, Penumbra’s Artistic Director. Through small group conversations and workshops with staff and parishioners, Sarah created a strategic and comprehensive report for The Basilica.
After this report was presented, it was recommended to our parish leadership that a EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Leadership Team comprised of parishioners be established. This team began meeting in September 2020. With guidance by Sarah Bellamy, they are working on parish-wide goals, strategies, etc. within The Basilica and the larger community.
One of the first things this group did was to develop a Basilica EDI Position Statement, which would set a foundation and a direction for the work of this team. This position statement describes:
The Why – What does our faith say? What are the conditions of our community? What does the gospel say to cause us to speak out?
The What – What does The Basilica claim; what are the beliefs of The Basilica as it relates to equity, diversity, and inclusion?
And the future state – What do we hope for the future; how do we at The Basilica see our role and the role of The Basilica, both within the parish community and within our neighborhood, city, and state?
This Position Statement was presented at the January meetings of our Parish Finance Committee and Parish Council.
As a next step the team will work with Sarah Bellamy to begin the work of identifying goals. The visioning sessions will be held early in 2021. We expect to have a draft of goals by April/May 2021. In addition, Sarah Bellamy will work with staff to develop focused curriculum for The Basilica to address identified needs. If you have any questions about this initiative, or if you are interested in working on this issue, please contact Janice Andersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Live Streaming Masses: As I hope you are aware, now that our livestreaming equipment has been permanently installed, we are able to open our Sunday 9:30am Mass for people to attend. As with the 11:30am and 4:30pm Masses, we do ask people to register to attend the 9:30am Mass in the unlikely event that we need to do some contact tracing. You can register for Mass via our website or by calling the parish office if you don’t have access to a computer. At this point, we anticipate continuing with our limited weekend Mass schedule at least until Easter. We will evaluate this during Lent to see if any changes need to be made.
At the present time, members of our parish staff cover the livestreaming of our 9:30am Sunday Mass, and our noon daily Mass. Going forward, though, we will be inviting and recruiting volunteers to help with this new ministry. If this new volunteer ministry has some interest to you, or you know someone who might be good at it, please contact Travis Salisbury at email@example.com.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary