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Archives: July 2020
16TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
IN THE YEAR OF SALVATION TWO THOUSAND TWENTY
JULY 19, 2020
Too quiet, too empty. As I write, the normally intense Basilica Block Party usually set up by hundreds of volunteers would have been in full swing. With COVID-19 and the common good in mind, cancelling this summer party was clearly the right decision.
Feelings of loss and sadness for what was “normal” go far beyond this fun summer event. We are not gathering in person for liturgies and volunteering… not building Habitat homes… not gathering in person to celebrate our children and catechists’ year of learning about our Catholic faith… not offering St. Vincent de Paul daily outreach. Too quiet indeed.
Without the experiences that normally mark our liturgical, volunteer and social calendars, the shape of daily life has changed dramatically. The future feels uncertain. As a planner, there are days when I find all of this unnerving, challenging, and sometimes maddening.
However and perhaps in spite of COVID-19, I’m seeing many glimmers of hope for our parish’s future. Young adults gather Thursday evenings on The Basilica lawn for Bible Study—social distancing and discussing Scripture. Recently, 98 people joined a “Grief in the City” webinar and this session is available on mary.org any time to anyone interested. Small weddings are being celebrated. Families are having small funerals to grieve the loss of a loved one.
We are gaining new skills as we befriend new technologies. Zoom is our new noun, verb, and connecting point, and we’ve rediscovered the telephone. Teams of volunteers are “zooming” as is Thursday Morning Prayer, Wednesday Coffee and Conversation with Fr. Bauer, speakers, and committee and staff meetings. All these and more happen virtually. Staff and volunteers are staying in touch with each other and ministry participants.
While most staff work primarily from home, the Rectory is staffed for a limited daily schedule. Thanks to SVdP donations, staff serve coffee and sandwiches to those who are hungry. Port-a-potties are available to our neighbors who are homeless. Their gratitude for these basic amenities is humbling.
While liturgies aren’t the same without your presence, they are livestreamed daily and with a national and global reach. A new camera system has been installed and staff training started last week. We are learning as we go and committed to livestreaming liturgies into the future. As we learn the ropes, the possibilities for expanded outreach are exciting.
As we focus on safety for guests, staff and priests, we continue to develop health screening and cleaning protocols. People in limited numbers are now invited to daily Mass in person, with pre-registration, health screening and facemasks required. Our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan is available on mary.org, and the plan will evolve as we continue to learn about this virus. Things may look and feel different on the Basilica campus, but remember our goal is a safe experience for all.
As we seek a “new normal,” the heart of Basilica parish life, both in person and virtually, has remained the same. Together, we are committed to being a home of spiritual nourishment, a beacon of hope where all are welcomed with respect and dignity, and an advocate for change working for peace, justice and equality.
I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times.
Yesterday, we had the first public Mass at The Basilica since mid-March. Speaking for myself, it was absolutely wonderful to have people at Mass again.
The Eucharist is a community event, and it was nice to once again have a community with whom I could celebrate and share the Eucharist.
Using our new equipment, our staff livestreamed Mass. For their first time, I think it went very well. I ask your patience, though, as our staff takes on this responsibility. No doubt, mistakes will be made, but please bear with us.
I you wish to attend one of these daily Masses you will need to pre-register the day before. You can do this on our website, the day before the Mass you want to attend. If you do not have a computer, you can also call the parish office. When you register, you will need to provide contact information, in the unlikely event that we need to do some contact tracing.
When you arrive for Mass you will need to wear a face mask and be checked in by a member of our staff. The check-in point is the accessible doors on the East side of The Basilica—between The Basilica and Cowley Center. After being checked-in you will then be shown to a seat. We ask that you continue to wear your facemask, and remain in that seat until the Mass has ended. Communion will be distributed after the Mass has ended.
To help explain these protocols we have prepared a brief video which will be available on our website.
I realize these protocols may seem excessive to some, but in an abundance of caution and with a concern for the common good, as your pastor, I am convinced that at this time, this is the best way to proceed.
If you are over the age of 65 or if you have some health issues, or if you fall into a vulnerable category for some reason, I would hope that you would not register to attend Mass at this time.
As I have mentioned previously, if you would like further information about these protocols or if you have questions or concerns, please contact me at the parish office or send me an email. My contact information is available on our parish website.
For those, who are not able to attend Mass, I also want to reassure you that, going forward, we will continue to livestream our various liturgies and services.
Once we are up and running for daily Mass, and have worked out any kinks in our protocols, we hope to open The Basilica for a public Sunday Mass. We hope to this beginning the first part of August. I will be discussing this with our Parish leadership at a Zoom meeting next week, and will let you know the outcome of that discussion.
As I close today, I ask for your prayers for our staff, our parish leadership, our parish, and our community, that we might be open to the guidance of God’s good Spirit during these challenging times.
Lord, Jesus, your light rises in our darkness and assures us that you are present with us and that your powerful closeness to us transforms our fear into hope.
May we join with our Holy Father, Francis, in spreading a "contagion" of hope "from heart to heart".
Protect all your selfless servants who continue to serve the needs of the most vulnerable by both hands and heart.
Give our elected leaders wisdom of heart in decision-making that the common good of our human family may be achieved and the gift of each person's human dignity respected.
May the fire of love, faith and hope burn within our hearts so that we may give witness to the mystery of your resurrected life among us and within us. Amen.
News and Resources
30 Days of Silent Prayer: Healing the Heart of Our City is a month-long, July 1-31, African American-led collaborative conceived to add a vital spiritual factor to all the strategic thinking, policy proposals and investments being considered.
Our communities are experiencing deep and multi-layered trauma. The devastation of COVID-19, when combined with the heinous murder of George Floyd, created a perfect pain-storm, with riots, looting, and arson, followed by a steep escalation in violent crime. This has brought us all to a more painful awareness of the alienation of our youth and of ongoing generational and systemic racism.
This is a shared public ritual where people of all faiths and good will can come together throughout the day for 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silent prayer/meditation. These ongoing prayer sessions will take place throughout the day under a tent located in the Hawthorne Crossings parking lot at the corner of West Broadway Ave. and Bryant Ave. N. in North Minneapolis. Over the course of 30 days, we will collectively grieve our losses, open ourselves to change, and pray for a new future. All are welcome.
In addition to in-person physically distanced prayer, there will be opportunities to interact with the wider community from home by offering prayers, photos, videos and positive messages through social media using the hashtag #healingourcity.