Road to Renewal: Bishop Scharfenberger's Pastoral Letter
Our Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has issued a Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of our diocese. The letter is being mailed to registered Catholic households as well as being made available at all our parishes and Catholic Institutions in time for the First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2020. The purpose of the Pastoral Letter is to provide the spiritual foundation for our Diocesan Road to Renewal Initiative. Everyone in our diocese is encouraged to read the Pastoral Letter and to spend time reflecting and sharing with one another the significance of this call to renewal in the Diocese of Buffalo.
Parish Parking Lot Pop Up
Catholic Charities of Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties will be holding a one day event to distribute much needed basic care items to the public. The event will take place at St. Joseph’s parking lot in Gowanda, on November 30 between 11 am and 1 pm. Drive in and receive a free Care Bag. All are welcome! Please help us spread the word!
Gowanda Community Meal
The Gowanda Community Meal will take place on the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving (11/24/2020); at the Moose Club at 6:00 pm. The meals will be prepared by the Gowanda Moose Club herself; and we all know she is a Great Cook. It is going to be a “Take-out” meal. Saint Joe’s Parish is supposed to provide some food items for the meal; but because the Moose Club has donated a lot of the food items/ingredients, St. Joes is saved that responsibility. In order to thank the Moose Club for a job very well done; there will be a Second Collection to that effect on the weekend of 14/15 November. Please be generous to this collection; and also endeavor to go for the meal; all for the pleasant comradery we share and enjoy as a community. Gowanda Moose Club will need several volunteers the day before (Monday the 23rd) as well as on the day of the meal (Tuesday the 24th) for preparation and distribution. Please be a willing volunteer and call Desiree Sanderson of (Gowanda Assembly of God) at 716-532-5038 or email her at [email protected]
Winter Escape/Snowbird Parishioners
Beloved Parishioners: For those who go on vacation; could you please use your parish envelopes so they could be sent to us? We really need your contributions here; we need them to pay our huge bills. Remember; even though our school is closed, we still pay bills on it because; it is still being used. We are also still paying the outstanding teachers’ and staff pensions. Our church is magnificent; it takes a lot of money to keep its doors open. Our Rectory is a beautiful edifice; it houses the parish office, where every parish business happens. It takes a lot of bills to keep the parish office running. Or do we have to talk about the funding of our elevator project? Please we need anything you could give to keep this lovely parish up and running. May I sincerely remind our vacationing/snowbird parishioners that the smallest parish in Florida for instance, is richer than our parish here! They have more than we do. Help your struggling home parish. Send your envelopes to her. Please think about this, and consider sending us your envelopes.
Respect Life Sunday
Each October the Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Month, and the first Sunday of October is observed as Respect Life Sunday. As Catholics, we are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between. During the month of October, the Church asks us to reflect more deeply on the dignity of every human life.
Road To Renewal
The Diocese of Buffalo invites you to join them for an online Renewal Consultation Session to learn about and discuss the new Diocesan Road to Renewal Initiative. They want very much to understand the needs, concerns and hopes that you have for the Faith communities in your area of the Diocese. Please join them for a Zoom gathering on Monday, October 5th from 6:30-8:30 pm. as members of their Road to Renewal Committee facilitate these conversations regarding your experience of Church in this vicariate. The link will be on the parish website as well as on the Diocese of Buffalo website or at www.roadtorenewal.org/zoom. Please look for the box that corresponds with their date and then click on the Tri-County button to them! In addition to these sessions, there are opportunities for those who prefer to share their insights in writing. Please send an email to [email protected] outlining your thoughts on renewing our Church’s mission and ministry, or take the online survey. Written letters can be mailed directly to Diocese of Buffalo, Road to Renewal, 795 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14203
UPDATE ON THE RESUMPTION OF PUBLIC MASSES; INCLUDING DAILY MORNING MASSES; 06/20/2020
We are resolved at making our return to Church, safe and reassuring. The Lord has done great things for our two Communities and Parishes in this pandemic. We will not afford to lose the gains we have made.
There is need therefore; for us to obey the guidelines for attending Mass in our Churches.
They following have been put in place for the Safety and Security of Parishioners as they move in and out of our Churches:
1) The official maximum occupancy (sitting capacity) of St. Joseph’s Church is 489 people.
2) The Covid-19 maximum occupancy (sitting capacity) of St. Joseph’s Church is 153 people. This number at one Mass is rare; probably during Christmas and Easter.
3) I am still searching St. Mary’s files for this document/code.
4) The seats in the churches have been tapped out at 6 feet apart.
5) The rows on either side of the Isle are staggered at even and odd numbers; so people are unable to sit directly opposite and across the Aisle.
6) At Mass; collections are done with the long-handled baskets. They could also be mailed in, or dropped in the Rectory Office Dropbox.
7) Hand sanitizers with more than 60% alcohol are placed at Church entrances and at strategic places in the Churches.
8) The church pews, the door knobs, the hand rails, the microphones, and all touchable surfaces are sanitized immediately after every Mass.
9) Parishioners above the age of two are required to wear their masks, observe the distancing stipulated, and adhere to instructions from the pastor or his delegate, in the Church.
10) Parishioners are encouraged to carry their own pocket hand sanitizers, in addition to the ones provided in the Churches.
11) The books/missals have all been removed from the pews, as part of the guidelines. So people are unable to transfer touches.
12) There will be music by the Organist. The people of God are not obliged to sing; but they will respond to their parts of the Mass.
13) The priest uses a separate microphone.
14) He is 20 to 25 feet away from the people of God. He also may not be able to celebrate Mass with his mask on. So; he wears his mask only during the distribution of Holy Communion.
15) He sanitizes his hands as often as he deems necessary.
16) The hosts for the people of God are covered in a ciborium; while the large host used for consecration is consumed by the priest during communion.
17) The people of God stay 6 feet apart in line for Holy Communion.
18) The priest does not stand at the door for greetings after Mass, to avoid gathering and cloistering. In the same way; both before and after Mass; parishioners should not get together for chat. After Mass; we are required to leave the Church for our cars, respecting social distancing. Remember; no one is being penalized. We are sticking to these requirements for the good and safety of all of us.
19) With all of the above practices already in play; I bet; we are ready to go! So please; feel safe, assured, and happy to join your Church family once again.
I can’t wait to see your faces again; after this marathon of a lockdown.
Again; if someone still feels uncomfortable joining now; he or she should feel free to stay home and watch our streamed Mass.
Thank you everyone!
PARISHES MAY BEGIN REOPENING AT 25% PROVIDED STATE AND DIOCESAN GUIDELINES ARE MET
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2020
Diocese of Buffalo Welcomes Allowance for Parish Reopening
Parishes that are prepared to welcome up to 25% of capacity, following Diocesan established protocols may do so as soon as possible
(Buffalo, NY) - In light of Governor Cuomo’s announcement today that houses of worship may resume public gatherings at 25 percent capacity at the earliest opportunity, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has announced that any parish in the Diocese of Buffalo that is prepared to offer public liturgies while maintaining the safety protocols detailed in the Diocesan guidelines due to the ongoing COVID-19 threat may do so.
Local Catholics are urged to check with their parishes before planning to attend a Mass, as parishes may be at a different stage in their preparations for reopening. The decision to reopen is solely at the discretion of the pastor. In addition, because many priests serving in parishes throughout the Diocese are themselves vulnerable, those priests may choose to (and are encouraged to) opt out of presiding if they have concerns about their personal health and safety. In those cases, a local parish may join with another local parish for public liturgies.
The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in place. All who are especially vulnerable or simply uncomfortable attending a public liturgy are encouraged to remain at home and view Mass via livestreams, which will continue in local parishes. (For livestream information, visit LIVE STREAM MASSES
“On this weekend, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity and look forward to next weekend’s celebration of Corpus Christi, we are ever more aware of and grateful for the great gift of the Eucharist,” said Bishop Scharfenberger who has kept churches open throughout the pandemic so local Catholics could pray privately. “The Catholic faithful of our Diocese have made clear their eagerness to return to their parish churches and to resume their sacramental, life with their parish leaders and in communion with their fellow parishioners. While we welcome this latest development, it is imperative that our parish leaders and all who are returning to public Masses observe the guidelines that public health officials have issued, along with the extensive measures that we have defined for our parishes in order to protect the health and safety of parishioners, as well as priests and liturgical ministers.”
Parishes throughout the Diocese have been working on plans to ensure they can meet safety standards that will keep the six-foot social distancing requirement in place throughout Mass.
In addition, many other protocols must be met in order for parishes to open, as defined by the guidelines referenced above.
Parishioners should bring and be prepared to wear their own masks and, if possible, a bottle of hand sanitizer for use upon entering, before receiving Communion, after receiving Communion, and after exiting the church. Catholics should plan on restricted seating, a change in the reception of Communion in order to ensure social distancing, and other appropriate measures upon entering and exiting churches.