Appleton, WI

Mar 18: A Letter From Fr. Bill

Dear Precious Family of God of Saint Mary Parish,

My heart is breaking as I do not know when the next time will be that we will gather together in our House of Faith to celebrate the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith. In this time of grave concern for the safety and well-being of our brothers and sisters in our community, in our state and nation, and throughout the world, we must do all we can to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Our infectious disease scientists tell us that we must act now by avoiding coming together in groups of more than ten people. Because this novel virus is extremely contagious, we must maintain social distance from each other. Perhaps, and we beg the Lord for this, the spread of the virus will rise in incidence like a plateau rather than a spike.

For the good of our families and friends, and for our Family of Faith, we will keep a physical distance among ourselves. Effective Friday, March 20th, all public Masses at St Mary Parish, and throughout the Diocese of Green Bay, will be suspended until further notice. All small group gatherings will be canceled. If you can think of a gathering of any kind in the life of our parish, it is cancelled.

Our Senior Leadership Team is meeting daily to put together a ministry plan that will allow us to remain close together in mind and heart. We will get these plans to you as soon as we can. Some of the ministries that we are planning are:

    1. Live-streaming our Sunday Mass at 9:45 AM. This Sunday, a recording of our Mass will be
      available on our website early Sunday morning. On Sunday, March 29, the Mass will be live-
      streamed at 9:45 AM. Live-streaming of the Tuesday through Friday Masses at 8:30 AM will
      begin next Tuesday. For those of you who do not have access to a computer, Masses are
      broadcast on television.

      1. WFRV TV 5, Sunday, 10:30 AM with Bishop Ricken
      2. WBAY TV 2, Sunday 5:30 AM
      3. CW14 8:00 am Sunday
      4. EWTN: Daily at 7:00 am and 11:00 AM, Mon through Sat at 6:00 PM
    2. We will be live-streaming the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 9 at 7 PM, the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and Death on Good Friday, April 10, at 3 PM, and the Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 12, at 9:45 AM. At this moment, we are not planning to live-stream the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, April 11.
    3. At each live-streamed Mass, I will be praying with you the Prayer for Spiritual Communion. We will be putting together a prayer resource aid which can be found on our resources page.
    4. We will have resources for praying the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross and other links to help you pray during this time.
    5. The Sacrament of Confession will be celebrated in our Chapel. It is safer to exercise social distancing as the Sacrament is celebrated. There will be a waiting area for penitents in the Marian Way. If you are in the high-risk group for contraction of the virus, and will not be able to get to the Chapel, please call me at 920-422-4316 and we will work something out. The dates and times for Reconciliation are as follows:
      • Saturday, March 21, 9-10 AM
      • Monday, March 23, 6:30-7:30 PM
      • Thursday, March 26, 6:30-7:30 PM
      • Saturday, March 28, 9-10 AM
      • Monday, March 30, 6:30-7:30 PM
      • Thursday, April 2, 6:30-7:30 PM
      • Saturday, April 4, 9-10 AM
      • Wednesday of Holy Week, April 8, 6-9 PM “Keeping the Lights On”
    6. Ministry to our elders will be a high priority for us during this time. We will be providing ways for our parish family members to sign up to help with this ministry. Would you be willing to be part of a phone ministry so that we can touch base regularly with our elders, who are ages 70 or older? Please call the parish office or signup now.
    7. We are working on a ministry to our children and young people as well. Once we decide on the shape those ministries will take, we will pass on that information.
    8. We will celebrate Funeral Masses. Families who have lost a dear loved one will be asked to celebrate a private Funeral Mass in the company of immediate family members only. The obituary would not mention a date or time for the funeral. There can be no visitation before the Mass and no onsite gathering of people for a luncheon.
    9. Finally, critical during this interim period is the ability of St Mary Parish to cover its payroll and pay its bills. I beg you to get your Sacrificial Offering Gift to the Parish Office either by mail, bringing it to the parish office, placing it into the drop box located near the Parish Center entrance, or through Faith Direct. Now would be an opportune time to take advantage of Faith Direct, which allows you to support your Parish’s ministry by giving your gift on-line. I would strongly encourage that. It is so simple and convenient! Sign up now. If you have questions about getting started, please call Pam Acker in the parish office. Also, please, please, if you have not given yet, do not forget the Bishop’s Appeal. We have reached 82% of our required amount. I will sleep much easier if we can make this goal. Remember no gift is too small!

The Parish Office will remain open during this time from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM on Monday through Thursday and on Friday morning from 8 AM to noon. Some of the Senior Team members may be choosing to work at home, however, there will always be someone who will know how to get in touch with me if you need to see me or talk to me for anything whatsoever.

For those who would like to pray in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, our Church will be open from 9 AM to 4:00 PM on Monday through Thursday and 8 AM to noon on Friday. The church will be open on the evenings and Saturday mornings during scheduled Confession times.

Stay tuned as there will be regular communications coming from the Senior Leadership Team. Bishop Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay has dedicated this year, March 19, 2020 to March 19, 2021, to Saint Joseph. Because of this crisis which is rocking our whole world, I have written a prayer dedicated to Joseph that I invite you to pray with your family during these trying days. Assured of Jesus’ closeness to us, let us take good care of one another!

We are a Family!
Father Bill +