October 8, 2020.
My dear Parishioners of Nativity of Our Lord Parish:
As it has been 3 ½ months now since our parish church reopened, it is time to provide an update to all of you.
Let me begin by assuring all of you of my prayers. This time of the pandemic has been a time of great challenge for all of us. It could be our continued isolation from others and our inability to come to church because of the sensitive realities of our health; it could be the sadness from our inability to visit and/or have loved ones visit us; it could be the loss of our jobs; the uncertainty regarding our schools and workplaces; or it could be all the changes we have been forced to embrace in the way that we go about our day to day business. And you could add your own examples. Our parish community certainly has also been affected by the pandemic.
Since the time of reopening, to ensure proper physical distancing in our church, the church’s seating capacity was reduced from 1,000 persons to roughly 195-200, including the balcony. While our mass attendance has grown since the reopening, our attendance lately has been in the range of 400 - 450 parishioners, as compared to 1,200 before the pandemic. I can assure you that we have been following the Worshipsafe protocols for Catholic churches in Ontario, protocols that were developed with the help and approval of public health authorities in our province, in order to ensure that your presence at mass is as safe as possible. Such measures include the mandatory wearing of a facial covering, sanitizing stations at the entrances, and sanitizing of the church after each celebration, whether it be for a mass, a baptism, a funeral, or a wedding.
We are now in the process of catching up on all of the sacramental celebrations that were postponed during the pandemic. Our 1st confessions and 1st communions that were delayed are now occurring at this time. At the end of this month our Confirmation candidates of last spring will be confirmed. Last month we were able to finally celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation for those adult members of our RCIA programme. Since July we have resumed celebrations of the Sacrament of Baptism for the youngest members of the parish. To do so safely though, baptisms are celebrated on a single-family basis only. Finally, we can also celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, with 6 weddings having been celebrated since mid- August.
I need to thank you for your continued financial support of the parish. Many parishioners have been dropping off their envelopes into the collection baskets at the exit doors at the end of mass. As well, many others, who have been unable to come to mass, have been dropping their envelopes in the mail slot by the parish office door, or in some cases, mailing it to the parish.
Please note that there are 2 other options I ask you to consider in terms of your donations to support the work of our parish: the first is on-line giving by using your credit card. To do so, go to the pink coloured Donate button at the top left side of the homepage of our parish website www.myparish.org Click on that , and then select the name of our parish, and then decide if you wish to it be for the offertory or building fund, as well as a recurring donation or a one-time donation. A second option is the use of the Pre-Authorized Giving (PAG) Programme which many parishioners now use. In this method a monthly deduction from your bank account occurs on the 20th of each month, for an amount you determine. You can also choose to have your donation directed to the offertory or the Building Fund. I think so highly of PAG that I have switched my monthly donations to our parish to the PAG method. Please contact Joanna Andrews at email@example.com or call her at the parish office for more details.
During this period our parish staff have worked hard to serve you. In case you are not aware, Deacon Gerry Almeida has returned back to ministry, and I, along with the parish, are delighted for his ministerial presence at Nativity. Please keep Deacon Gerry and his wife Stella in your prayers. Courtney Strom continues to work with her volunteers to help prepare for the start of our EDGE and Lifeteen programmes for our youth this fall. Courtney has also been running and monitoring our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and has started a small drop-in group for our high school students, socially safe and distant. Tony Marinucci, our caretaker, continues to do a fine job in keeping our building and grounds clean and tidy. He has also been working with our Parish Cleaning Teams of volunteers to ensure that the church is sanitized after the various celebrations. Joanna Andrews, our secretary, has continued with her regular office duties, has also been making efforts to update our parishioner lists.
I would now like to share with you some items that I hope are of interest to you:
Our 2nd virtual Coffee Sunday will be held on Sun. Oct. 25th at 1 pm. This is your chance to submit any questions you might have about the parish to me. Please see the post on our parish website https://myparish.org/post/5f749b345527d20060d9e102 to register.
Starting on Tuesday November 3rd we will begin our 2nd online FORMED online Zoom reflection group gatherings, for 4 consecutive Tuesday evenings. We will watch together and discuss the FORMED series called “Presence - the mystery of the Eucharist”. For more information and to register, please go to https://myparish.org/post/5f85e222b247ad0060ca6695 .
Since the May our parish has had a subscription to FORMED, an online Catholic resource site, with a huge number of video series, audio books and children’s resources. This subscription is free to all parishioners. In order to sign up for Formed, please see the post https://myparish.org/post/5ebf513e5d06f300605f2e61 to register and deepen your knowledge and appreciation of our Catholic faith.
Please remember that our Sunday 11:30 mass is livestreamed on Youtube. Each Saturday there will be a post on the parish website www.myparish.org giving you the link to click to watch the mass from your home. If you are unable to watch it live, the mass can also be viewed at a later time.
I continue to post 3 daily reflections each week on the mass of the day on our parish website, as well posting the text of my Sunday homilies, and those of Deacon Gerry.
In the coming weeks I will be sharing with you further information on how we will be trying to reach out to all of you.
Finally, I thank you for taking the time to read this update letter. I ask almighty God to continue to bless and support all of you! I am so blessed to be the Pastor of our parish, and it is my hope and prayer that you feel equally blessed to be a member of Nativity of Our Lord.
Peace and prayers,
Fr. Michael Machacek