Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we continue to move through the fast-changing times of the reopening of our parish, there is a great need for us to draw on the grace of God for assistance. We need this grace to help us with understanding, patience, and the willingness to see and respect where people are. With God’s help, we will continue to be a strong witness to our community.

Starting this weekend, May 29, 2021

1.        You will no longer have to register through Sign-Up Genius to attend Mass.

2.        We do ask that all continue to sanitize their hands as you come into the building.

3.        For those persons who have been fully vaccinated, the wearing of masks is now optional. If for any reason you still wish to wear a mask, you are respected in your choice.

4.        For all those who still wish to wear the mask and maintain social distance, you are asked to please sit in the side pews which still maintain the every- other pew separation. Those that sit in these sections will continue to come to communion, guided by the ushers, to the back of the church and then down the center aisle.

5.        As you feel comfortable, all others will begin using the fullness of the center sections. I ask that we still give each other a respectful distance.

6.        We will begin to take up the collection by the ushers and will be able to bring forward the gifts of bread and wine for the eucharistic celebration.

7.        The use of the confessional will once more become an option for those who wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance kneeling and behind the screen. Of course, the option of going Face-to-Face will continue to be available.

8.        It is my hope that the use of Holy Water fonts, the sharing of the Sign of Peace, the distribution of the Precious Blood at communion, and the use of Altar Servers will return in the near future, but at this time we are advised to wait.

            As we continue to “re-learn’ what we can do in our public worship we must challenge ourselves to remember that we are one community of believers with a common goal, the worship of our living God. As Bishop Malloy reminds us in his latest article from the Observer “In spite of any sensitivities or diverse circumstances of different individuals, we must avoid any possible division among ourselves as members of the Church. Masked or not, distanced or together, our goal must be to live as the Church. In that way we can be a sign and an example to others. To do so I would urge that we keep in mind three important indicators: charity, personal responsibility and the common good.”

            I take this time to thank you for all your prayers, your cooperation, your support, and your patience during these past 19 months. I am so proud of the faith community of St. Mary, Byron and pray that the Lord will continue to guide and bless us in the months and years ahead.

Even though we will be welcoming back many more of our parishioners, I am aware that we always have those who are sick, shut-in, and other parishioners who cannot make it to Mass on the weekend. We will therefore continue to offer a live-streamed Mass on Sunday morning to continue to connect those parishioners and others to our wonderful faith community. Finally, let us all remember in a special way all those who have died and have been sick or suffering because of or during this global pandemic. For all of us, may God bring us PEACE.

Peace always,

Fr. Rich