To be honest, I don’t know. “Social distancing” and self-quarantine have become the rule of the day. For the time being schools are closed and our religious education programs are likewise suspended. This could present an opportunity for families to talk, pray and study together. The family rosary is a wonderful way for families to pray together. Our diocese offers age-appropriate resources for praying with children at <diolc.org/prayer> and for discussing the faith at <diolc.org/catechesis/catechetical-leaders-info>. Our parishes also have a subscription to FORMED, which is an online treasury of Catholic programs, movies and books. Go to the “Faith Formation” tab on our parish website, click on the tab for St. Charles/St. Peter, then click on “Formed” on the drop-down list. Then either sign up, if it’s your first time; or sign in, if you are returning. It’s free, so take advantage of it.
The latest development to comply with “social distancing” and Governor Evers’ directive forbidding gatherings of more than ten persons, beyond dispensing from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, is that Bishop Callahan has taken the extraordinary step of decreeing that all public Masses and parish gatherings are cancelled until further notice, perhaps until May 1. Father Hokamp and I will continue to celebrate Mass without a congregation and offer Mass for the intentions which have been scheduled, even though no one else is present. If you have requested Masses to be offered for particular intentions on particular dates, those requests will be honored.
Bishop Callahan has also asked that churches be open during the day for private prayer as well as for individual confessions. Confessions will be heard at all the scheduled times and some additional times as well. Father Hokamp and I are also available for confession on request; and we are also willing to come to the home of anyone who asks for confession, anointing, holy communion and viaticum. Remember that the Lord is present in the tabernacle and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is always encouraged. You may also come to pray the Stations of the Cross at any time the church is open. There are brief meditations in the missalette we use for weekdays and I will put out some books that can also be used. Everything said here applies to both parishes and both churches.
Even though you may not be able to attend Mass in person during this time, there are ways to tune in for a Mass both daily and on Sundays. A prerecorded Sunday Mass from our diocese is broadcast on WQOW Channel 18 at 9:30 every Sunday morning, or anytime on the diocesan YouTube channel or Facebook page. You may watch Mass daily on EWTN at 7:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM. You may also listen to the Mass daily at 12:00 noon and 7:30 PM on Relevant Radio on station 1050 AM WDVM or at <relevantradio.com>. Finally, if you just want to read the readings for each day’s Mass, go to <usccb.org> and click the day on the calendar you see there.
One more important way to keep in touch with your parish is through the bulletin. Bulletins will be in the usual places in both churches and you may pick one up whenever the church is open. You may also see the bulletin on our parishes’ website, and we may be able to send it to all parishioners who have email.
Your ongoing parish support is also needed during this time. Those who use online giving are already set. If you don’t use it, you may want to give it a try. Those of you who use envelopes can mail your envelope in the self-addressed envelopes in your envelope packets. If you go to church to pick up a bulletin, you may also drop off your envelope. At. St. Charles, just drop it into the “Scrip Depository” slot in the narthex. At St. Peter, we will come up with a secure way for you to leave your envelope in church. Please don’t forget about us!
Know that Father Hokamp and I will be praying for all our parishioners and for a swift resolution of this current pandemic. Please pray for us and for one another as well. St. Charles Borromeo led the city of Milan through a plague much worse than this. St. Charles Borromeo, pray for us!
Yours sincerely in Christ,