april 21

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Good morning.  Good morning.

Just a copy of a recent note from the chancery offices.  It was sent to the priests showing what is coming up in the diocesan events.  Please know, at this time we do not have permission for any slated times for First Communion.  I know how disappointed the kids must be and I don’t have any guess on our future schedule.  Currently we are seeing wedding dates cancelled for a later time in the Fall.  God bless the young ones with the disruption in their plans for marriage. As a point of trivia for the collegians… the average age for a couple getting married today is 27+.  It has been that age for the better part of twenty years.

Let us all praise God.  At this time our parish has not been affected by the Coronavirus.  May the Blessed Mother and all the angels and saints watch over us during this pandemic.

Such a blessing is not always the case for so many men, women, and children in our experience of the pandemic.  I am given to understand that if one should die today the burial is encouraged to be immediate or have a cremation as the second option.

Please pray for one of the seminarians from Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary.  He is from another diocese, and just lost his father to the coronavirus.  His mother and sister are in very serious condition at the local ICU unit at home with the same condition.  How devastating that must be where he might lose his entire family to the virus before he is ordained.  During this horrible pandemic let us pray for the many sick and dying, as well as their loved ones. Let us pray for one another. 

Such a tragedy reminds me of one of my classmates at St. Charles Seminary, in Philadelphia.  He was the oldest of four children, a senior in high school when his dear mother had a heart attack.  While visiting her at Miseracordia Hospital, West Philadelphia, he sat next to her on the bed.  At that moment the great cardiac arrest followed and she fell into his arms, gone. 

 A year later, while a freshman at St. Joseph’s University, his father came down with cancer.  In the following year, when all four of the children went off to school, two in college, and two in high school, the Sisters of Mercy came to sit with their father.  Over the better part of a year, as his health worsened, the sisters came round the clock.  They prayed with him, fed him, cleaned him.  They offered a beautiful example of religious life to the man in his final weeks.  The priest was called and sacraments offered.  All were witnesses to a beautiful death. 

 A number of years later as the classmates were approaching ordination time at the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, in Philadelphia.  Each was provided a single pew for his family.  During the ordination the classmate looked out upon the sacred pew for his siblings, in-laws… and Sisters of Mercy.  The classmate never forgot how the good sisters, through the death of his father stirred a life in the children.  One of whom became a religious with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and himself the future Bishop of Harrisburg. 

 Bishop Joseph McFadden himself would meet death as suddenly as his mother, and with the same cause.  His final words to the priest next to him, “you better anoint me.” And then he was gone.  One of the great models of priesthood.

 On the lighter side.  A year earlier from our ordinations the classmates were given the charge of setting up for the ordinations of our schoolmates, a year ahead of us.  As Master of Ceremonies for the Cardinal, McFadden was prepping the altar before the ordinations.  Others were given charge of ushers.  Easy as pie… sort of. 

Downtown Philadelphia offers a wide variety of character types who would simply show up in the basilica any hour of the day, any day of the year.  Most were easy to pick out: drunks,  young folks, living off  the streets, escapees from home in need of a bath and fresh clothes.  Oh yes, some were Catholic gypsies as well.  Now they were interesting.  And still others were simply curious visitors to the City of Brotherly Love.  On the day of the ordination the family pews were designated for the family members, who were yet to show up.  All except one very strange character who looked too good to be strange.  It seems the elderly gentleman arrived in early, proper fashion, looking very British… like an elderly Peter O’Toole.  Tweed jacket, adorned with ascot, and wearing spats… carrying a rather attractive cane. 

One of the ushers went up and mentioned the section was designated for the family members.  He demurred and acknowledged he was happy to stay right where he was.  The seminarian tried a second time and was rebuffed again.  A second seminarian responded to the commotion.  To him the gentleman offered a quick and quite dramatic swing of the cane that missed his head by the width of a dime.  Both withdrew to a distant spot. 

The lead usher watched everything take place in the designated section.  In response, he walked out the front door of the basilica, circled the building and entered the sacristy door.  McFadden looked at him wondering how he got past the security.  In his best imitation of St. Rocky Balboa, with honored statue on the steps of the art gallery up the street, “Yo, Howya doin?” as he passed to the doors opening onto the main altar.  Before stepping out he stripped off his surplice and folded it carefully and dropped over his arm.  No longer looking like one of the seminarians he stepped out onto the altar and transitioned to the front gate and out into the aisle.  Walking up to man with the cane he bowed and acknowledged that Cardinal Krol was aware of his attendance and selected a special seat where his eminence could look off from the altar and see him directly in front of him without distraction.  Would he please follow. 

 The elderly gentleman followed in due procession up the center aisle, by the front gate,  and turned right to the second set of pews adjacent to the family section.  All, in direct sight of the Cardinal’s chair.  He asked if that was suitable to him. He nodded.  The head usher responded with a bow and asked if he would like him to deliver a message to the cardinal.  He said, “Thank you.”  He returned to the center gate, up the altar, and back into the sacristy. 

Once back at the front door the ushers asked what he said to get the man to move so easily.  He simply smiled at them.  They would have to figure that out for themselves.  So much easier than calling the police in to hall the poor man away.  All he wanted was to attend the ordination up close where he could see… and be seen. 

From the Bishop:

Dear Brother Priests,

 In light of Governor Northam’s announcement yesterday, all public Masses and events scheduled for Bishop Burbidge are cancelled through May 8, 2020.  Additionally, the parish confirmations scheduled through May 8 with Bishop Burbidge, Archbishop Broglio and Bishop Loverde are cancelled.  Please know that we will be in contact with pastors of the affected parishes by the end of April to discuss how we will move forward with Confirmations at a later date. 

Fraternally in Christ,

From the Bishop for Divine Mercy Sunday:  

(My comment.  When you are stationed in the outposts, as we are all locked down, it is nice to have an encouraging word from the Bishop.  As is the case for all priests, religious, and laity across the Commonwealth he has his hands full.  In recent weeks five of our priests have been self-quarantined because of exposer to the coronavirus.  An additional two, pastors, have been identified with cancer.  And, five or six other pastors are soon to be retired.  When we get to the finale with this virus the Arlington Diocese is going to take on a whole new image.  God bless all the faithful, one and all.)

Dear Brother Priests,

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I write to assure you of a continued remembrance in my prayers, especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I also take this opportunity to express renewed gratitude for the countless ways you continue to provide spiritual and pastoral care for all those you serve.

During these unsettling times, the faithful throughout the diocese have expressed their appreciation for the Masses being live-streamed in our parishes, as well as opportunities for devotions and faith formation. They are so grateful that, as we follow the necessary protocols of social distancing, the Sacrament of Penance is available and our churches remain open for prayer. Some have mentioned how thankful they are for your ongoing contact with them through your messages, emails and phone calls. The faithful in our diocese love their priests and are so thankful for you and your priestly ministry. I join them in echoing my sincere appreciation.

We are so blessed to be instruments of God’s divine mercy, especially as our Lord works through us to forgive the sins of his people and reconcile them with himself and his Church. At the same time, Divine Mercy Sunday is a powerful reminder of our need to be recipients of God’s mercy. We recall the words of Saint John Paul II: “There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God.”

It is my hope and prayer that you frequently celebrate God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Penance. With all humility, acknowledge those areas of your life that are not of God: any destructive behavior that seems to have a hold on you, any sin that has separated you from the Lord, and any unfaithfulness to your priestly promises. Please allow the Lord to heal you of any guilt, shame or wound that may be weighing on you with the assurance that no sin or failure is greater than his infinite love and divine mercy. Pray for the grace to say with renewed confidence, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Then, in the silence of your heart, you will hear his words, “Peace be with you.”

Ever grateful for the gift of God’s mercy, may we always be mindful of the words of Pope Francis: “We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.” If there is any relationship in your life, especially with a brother priest, that is fractured, then take the initiative to offer forgiveness and do so as early as today. If we hold on to resentments, grudges or bitterness, we can never be at peace. With God’s grace, forgive anyone who has hurt or offended you in order to reflect the unity that must be ours.

Thank you, brother priests, for being instruments of the Lord’s mercy. Also, be recipients of that precious gift so that you will be renewed in holiness, in integrity of life, and in your faithful service to God’s people.

Peace be with you today, throughout the Easter season and always.

Fraternally in Christ,
Bishop Burbidge

 Attention Attention Attention.  Most of the parishioners watching the cameras each day are quite familiar with the nephew of Fr. John Heisler.  Nephew, John Paul Heisler has been called to the order of deacon.  The current ordination date is May 30th.  More details will be forthcoming in future parish letters. 

John Paul Heisler at St. Charles Seminary… third from the right.

Following is the Current Confession Schedule for the parish.   Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights at 7 PM.  If the crowds become problematic we can expand to every week night at 7 PM.

Adoration schedule –  Everyday 3-7 PM until further notice

The Mass schedules can be found on the camera.  Daily Mass at 8 AM.  Sunday:  8:30 AM and 10:30 AM in the Church.  The Masses are still private and not open to the public until the end of the pandemic.  Let us pray for one another.

 In closing, the recent report on the Bishops Lenten Appeal is enclosed below.  Once again, the foolish pastor is the beggar for the very important collection.  Many thanks to all of you in this most uncertain financial climate.  You are an inspiration.  Let us pray for one another.

Parish Summary Report Final April 16 2020 (2)

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