Just in Time for Christmas
The first Christmas gift that we have received in our four parishes is a new organist at Immaculate Conception. He has played a couple of Masses already and is getting settled in. Nate Hanson is a sophomore at Minster High School. He has been learning the organ for a of couple years and will be regularly playing the weekend Masses at Immaculate Conception. You may see some other faces helping out at weddings, funerals, holy days, and as substitutes.
As we welcome Nate, I invite you to introduce yourself to him, especially if you are a cantor. Please be patient as he adapts to this new role at a young age. As we move forward, we will have to discern how to restart and adapt the choir. Nate’s skill set is on the organ, not directing a choir. We’ll discern what happens when Covid restrictions are lifted and we utilize the choir.
One final item to note is that the music takes a bit of coordination between the organist and cantors to create a schedule, distribute music, agree on practice times, and more. I have asked our seminarian, Alex Dugas, to coordinate this aspect of the music ministry at Immaculate Conception for the time being. It isn’t a long term solution because Alex will be back at the seminary next fall, but it will work for the next few months. If you have any interest in serving as a cantor or assisting in the music at Immaculate Conception, please contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nate has begun just in time for Christmas which is always an exciting time in a parish. It is even more exciting this year as we navigate the challenges of the pandemic. After much discernment, prayer, and advice, here are the plans for Christmas 2020:
Christmas Masses will be at St. Joseph and Immaculate Conception and broadcast to the PLC and basement (if necessary). Some of the St. Joseph Masses will be streamed on Facebook. Parishioners have asked if we could distribute Holy Communion at St. John and St. Lawrence, but this will not happen. We will be asking everyone to let us know which Mass they plan to attend so that we can plan accordingly (more details next week). Please see the full Christmas Mass schedule on the page opposite of the Petersburg’s Weekly Schedule.
The decision was based on a couple of principles. It is ideal to be at Mass in person in a Church. Being able to actively engage and worship our Lord is the best. Watching Mass on a screen is not ideal and should be avoided if possible. Another thing to keep in mind is that nobody knows how many people will be at Christmas Masses. We could have a spike in the virus and the numbers be down or there could be a lull in cases. Also maybe people who normally leave town could stay home or people who normally come to visit won’t be here. Basically we don’t know how many people will be here, but we want to plan and be ready for whoever attends.
You may have a couple of questions about why we didn’t choose other options. Why not have Mass at the fairgrounds or the Palazzo, which was my preference when this discernment began? The logistics were too challenging. I think that we would be able to set everything up for Mass on Thursday and Friday, but tearing down and being ready for Mass on Saturday, December 26th would be almost impossible. Why not stream the Masses to St. John and St. Lawrence and distribute Holy Communion? Again the logistics were difficult. The amount of technology needed and the ability to troubleshoot would be tough. Some suggested that the deacons could distribute Holy Communion at a livestream, however we need deacons to be at Mass to coordinate distribution in the basement and PLC. Also I don’t think this is a good precedent to set. Finally some asked about extending the Christmas Masses throughout the week, so that all the Masses between Monday, December 21st and Sunday, December 27th would be “Christmas Masses” with the readings and music for Christmas. Parishes asked the Archbishop about this and after he had time to research, the answer was that it isn’t liturgically appropriate to cut into Advent. Those changes aren’t up to us to make.
Next week, we will have information about registering for a specific Mass time for your family. We are asking everyone to let us know what Mass time you plan to attend by Sunday, December 20th so that we can plan accordingly. We will have to gather the correct number of Communion distributors and know which Masses need to be broadcast to auxiliary spaces.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we prepare to welcome our newborn King, Jesus Christ.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson