distributing communion at holy trinity

Communion Services Begin May 30-31

Fr. Joel Being Catholic 10 Comments

I want to begin with a note of gratitude. Thank you for your patience! I know that for many of you, Sunday Mass is the highpoint of your week. It gives you a chance to connect with God and with your church family and focus on the things that matter. You leave with a renewed sense of your identity as a child of God the Father, a member of the Body of Christ, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Since restrictions first began on March 20, you have eagerly awaited in exile for the day that you could come “home”.

You have experienced a little taste of the Babylonian Captivity. For over 50 years, the Jews waited to return to their homeland. When they did, they found a lot of rebuilding was necessary. In a similar way, the return to church will be a gradual and perhaps challenging process of rebuilding. We will begin with a return to Communion on May 30-31. It won’t quite yet be the Mass that we know and love, but it will be an opportunity to receive Communion.

When and Where

Communion will be offered at Holy Trinity in Oconto on Saturday, May 30 and June 6, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Communicants will enter through the main doors that face Arbutus Street and leave through the side doors on Jefferson Street.

Communion will be offered at St. Anthony in Oconto Falls on Sunday, May 31 and June 7, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. Communicants will enter through the doors that face the playground and exit through the main doors of church.

How to Receive

Communicants should be free from communicable diseases and flu-like symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever over 100.4ºF, loss of taste or smell). You are encouraged to wear masks but not gloves. A total of 16 people will enter at a time, 8 in church and 8 in the gathering space, social distanced 6 feet apart. We will do a short prayer and the Our Father together and then you will have a chance to receive Communion. You will not be able to stop and pray in the pews. We also ask that you not congregate in church or in the parking lot before or after, for your own safety and the safety of others. Those age 65 or above and those with compromised immunity are encouraged to stay home.

Be Ready

In order to receive Communion, you should be in the state of grace (free from mortal sin), having fasted from foods for 1 hour, and having prepared yourself by some kind of participation in the Mass. You should watch our live stream at https://Facebook.com/HolyTrinityOconto/Live, listen to a radio Mass, or at the very least read and pray with the scripture readings for the day as a family. After receiving Communion you are encouraged to spend some time in prayer. Prayer cards and bulletins will be available as you leave.

Thank You For Your Kindness

It all sounds very cold, I know. These guidelines came directly from the Diocese of Green Bay. It is pretty much exactly all the things I feared that “return to church” might look like. But we are being obedient to Bishop Ricken. In doing so, I believe that this moment can be an experience profound Communion with God and with each other. Many of us haven’t fasted this long from the Eucharist since our First Communion. Your patience, love, and obedience will be rewarded with blessings beyond your wildest dreams. I look forward to seeing you in person, even if briefly, and to hearing about the blessings God gives you through this encounter with our Eucharistic Lord.

When Can We Get Back to Mass?

I expect that these mini Communion services will last just two weeks and then we will be able to offer public Masses with some restrictions on attendance. Thank you for your patience. The best is yet to come.

Peace and joy,
Fr. Joel Sember

Comments 10

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    1. Fr. Joel Post

      Not at this time. When we begin Masses again, we will resume our usual weekend schedule with 7:30 AM Mass at St. Patrick, with social distancing and a limit of 25% capacity. That’s coming in three weeks so stay tuned.

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    I looked forward to the day I would receive the Eucharist again. Now I am so disappointed to learn the Bishop is encouraging me not to attend because of my age. I never considered myself to be compromised in any way. Will I be turned away because of my age?

    1. Fr. Joel Post

      If you follow the link for guidelines from the Diocese, their first bullet point states clearly: It is important to remember no Catholic is required to receive Holy Communion during the pandemic. Permission is for those who desire to receive Holy Communion and can safely do so. Those age 65 or above and those with compromised immunity are encouraged to stay home.
      Notice it says ‘encouraged’ and not ‘required’. Bishop is concerned about the health of our more mature population, especially those who might be healthy themselves but might be caregivers for someone who is at significant risk. These are guidelines, not laws. We won’t be checking ID’s at the door.

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    I am not happy with the bishop why is he excusing ages that’s wrong I haven’t had been treated nicely by our bishop I think hes rude

    1. Fr. Joel Post

      Lots of people feel as you do. A couple things to keep in mind: Bishop is motivated by love for his people and concern for their safety. Bishop is well aware that many of our most faithful parishioners, and those most eager to return to church, are in their 60’s and 70’s and 80’s. Bishop is also aware that the majority of Covid-19 deaths have happened to people in these same age brackets. He wants nothing more than to have everyone return to Mass, but he doesn’t want to risk peoples’ lives in the process. Bishop Ricken himself is 67 1/2 years old, for what it’s worth.

    2. Fr. Joel Post

      Bishop Ricken is concerned also for the many immunocompromised folks who may be younger but are still at higher risk. The data tends to lag behind the infections by 2-3 weeks, meaning that 2-3 weeks after someone gets infected, we’ll see them show up in the confirmed cases. The spike in confirmed cases in Wisconsin on Friday, May 29 (733 — highest in one day) is likely to have actually happened two weeks ago in conjunction with the end of Safer-at-home and people returning to bars and restaurants. So we may actually be opening up just as cases are starting to mushroom. But we won’t know that for sure until we have another week or two of data. And so that’s why these Communion services (called Phase I by the Diocese) are set to last a couple weeks as we prepare for Mass with a limited congregation (called Phase II). The Diocese will be monitoring the information from the CDC and from the Wisconsin DHS in the meanwhile, and are not afraid to close up again if they feel they have to. Right or wrong, that’s the approach Bishop has decided to take.

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    It’s encouraging to hear that even in this modest way, your parishioners can return to sharing their faith as a community. For many, their parish community is their second family — and for those who live alone, maybe it’s their only family. The isolation of the past several months has been difficult for so many, even as parishes did what they could to reach out in different ways.

    I appreciate when bishops are cautious and when they find themselves having to communicate difficult things to us, yet have the courage to do what’s safe and responsible. Up here in the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall, we won’t be celebrating any public liturgies and we won’t have communion service, nor will parishes be open, until at least the beginning of July. As well, all parish events, including any pilgrimages or socials, are cancelled until at least September. I had to share this news with parishioners in my weekly update yesterday — it’s never easy, and there is some anxiety.

    So, to try to help that a little, I asked a familiar face (our young, talented cantor) to come in to sing a familiar song (Make Me a Channel of Your Peace) in the sanctuary of our church and I shared this with our community: https://youtu.be/LZcAdPzd6Zk

    1. Fr. Joel Post

      Thank you for sharing how you continue to provide comfort to your people in the midst of anxiety and unknowns. Re-opening Masses to the public has been comforting for so many, but many continue to be cautious and choose to stay home. Your post reminds me that the ultimate answer to all this is not face masks or a vaccine, but the peace that only Jesus can give us. Let’s all be a channel of that peace.

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