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Angels Unawares - Coffee and Conversation with Johan van Parys, Director of Liturgy and the Sacred Arts
For the July 4th weekend, I headed to my hometown in Iowa for my first visit post pandemic. A time for renewing relationships, fun, and reflection, I finally had the chance to see and catch up with family and life-long friends. Conversations were fast and furious as we made up for the “lost year” as many in my hometown call the pandemic.
As we shared stories and experiences from the lock down it was clear that people really missed being with family and friends. For many, that included the loss of an in-person connection to their faith community. With deep emotion they spoke about yearning to gather at daily Mass, receive the Eucharist, and connect with others serving as volunteers at church.
These expressions of their faith gave meaning, inspiration, and structure to their daily lives that they sorely missed. Denied by the need for safety during the pandemic, as restrictions have lifted, for many these in-person expressions of faith have heightened importance.
Do you share these feelings? What have you missed about being at The Basilica? Please spread the word that we are ready and happy to welcome you back to The Basilica campus for liturgies and more. Better yet, make your plans to come back to the campus and bring friends.
It’s exciting for The Basilica to once again offer a full schedule of weekend liturgies with Masses at 5:00pm Saturday evening, and Sundays at 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am and 5:00pm (note: new time). Weekday Mass is offered at 7:00am and Noon. Be assured we are also committed to continue livestreaming weekday Mass at Noon, and 9:30am and 11:30am Sunday Masses at mary.org and on our Facebook page at facebook.com/BasilicaMpls.
Throughout the pandemic, volunteers worked at outdoor projects like lawn maintenance and landscaping. Another intrepid group helped with health screening and welcoming people to in-person Mass when COVID-19 restrictions were in place. Choirs continued meeting in new ways, in small groups masked and distanced. Pathways and Young Adults ministries were first active out of doors and indoors when weather required, and they are still at it.
We have gratefully welcomed back our sandwich makers, rectory hospitality, and reception volunteers who greet those looking for a cup of coffee or a sandwich. Weekly our staff is planning how to re-open volunteer opportunities and ministries safely for all. To help clean circulating air, bi-polar needlepoint ionization technology has been expanded to all Basilica gathering spaces in the Church, Rectory, and Cowley building.
This August, we anticipate a full schedule of offerings in conjunction with the arrival of the Angels Unawares sculpture which will be displayed on The Basilica’s front plaza. The artist is Timothy Schmalz who also created the Homeless Jesus status located in front of The Basilica.
On loan through August, this Angels Unawares statue comes to us from Catholic University where it will return for permanent installation. Mark your calendars for the opening ceremony at 1:00pm on August 1. Throughout August, there will be speakers offered virtually, and daily prayer, and vigils led by community partners at The Basilica.
If you haven’t been back to The Basilica yet, I encourage you to plan your visit. Throughout the pandemic, I came in daily to an eerily quiet Basilica campus which simply did not feel right. I’m anxiously anticipating the increased buzz of people coming together in-person to express their faith in worship and ministry in the months ahead.
Please note: the MCTC parking ramp east of the church is $5 during special events in Loring Park including Pride, Loring Art Festival and others.
- 1420 Hennepin Ave S. (north side of Hennepin Ave). A "pay-as-you-enter" mechanical system requires payment before entering the ramp.
- Credit cards accepted
There are free spaces available in the parking lot on the west side of the church under the highway.
I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times.
Today I want to talk with you about where we are currently, and the challenges that face us at The Basilica, as we move forward after the pandemic. As I hope all of you know, at the beginning of July we started our new Mass schedule. Masses are Saturday at 5:00pm; Sunday morning at 7:30am, 9:30 and 11:30; and Sunday afternoon at 5:00pm. It is heartening for me to see so many people back at The Basilica after many months.
In welcoming people back to worship, one of the challenges we face is reinvigorating, renewing, and in some cases rebuilding our liturgical ministerial teams. In this regard, we are in the process of contacting all of our liturgical ministers. If you have been not been contacted or if you are interested in becoming involved please contact Travis Salisbury.
As always, if you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you join them via livestream. We will continue to livestream the 9:30am Mass, and have begun livestreaming the 11:30amMass. We are looking for volunteers to help with this, so if you are interested in volunteering, please let us know. During the coming weeks, we will be looking at bringing back more of our ministries. I will keep you informed as this progresses.
One thing in particular I wanted to mention is that during the month of August The Basilica will be hosting the sculpture Angels Unawares. This sculpture will be on our front plaza along Hennepin Avenue. Since it will be hard to miss, I wanted you to be aware of it.
Angels Unawares depicts 140 almost life size migrants from all times and places aboard a boat. It was created by Canadian Catholic sculptor Timothy Schmalz, who also created our Homeless Jesus sculpture. The name Angels Unawares comes from Hebrews 13:2, which reminds us to “show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
Finally, I want to thank everyone for your ongoing financial support for The Basilica. As we begin to resume more activities on our campus, your financial support will be critical as we resume the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. As your pastor, I want to thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know it is greatly appreciated.
In closing, as I have mentioned previously, as we move forward, our primary concern, as always, will be the safety and security of those who come to our campus. I will continue to keep you informed as we move forward into our new normal—whatever that may be.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about these changes I invite you to contact me at the parish office. My contact information is available on our parish website.
Let me close today in prayer.
Loving God, we pray today for our parish community. Deliver us from simply desiring to get “back to normal," and give us instead the grace to be open to the opportunities that your Spirit is offering us at this time.
Grant that we may come out of this pandemic with eyes more able to see the needs of those most vulnerable and those who lives have been so severely impacted by the pandemic.
Give us creative minds and hearts to embrace and carry forward the new ways we have found to connect with one another; and bring us safely back together as a people renewed in the sure knowledge of your faithfulness and abiding love, and strengthen us for the work ahead. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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