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Parish Update: Friday April 3rd 07:02 AM

Dear Friends, 
I have had some conversations and meetings over the last couple of weeks that have just been…surreal.  The last few days they have had to do with Holy Week. So let me share with you what is going to happen.
 
Palm Sunday:  Mass will be celebrated at 10 AM via (removed the word the) livestream and a recording will be made available soon afterward on Youtube.  I have had many conversations about the distribution of Palms. Conversations with our Leadership Team, other priests and the Town of Dartmouth Health Department.  Ultimately, we need to mindful that Palms are sacramentals, items that point us to Christ.  The Public Health risk involved with the distribution of Palms does not seem to be worth it.  This has led to the following decision
1.Palms were used by the crowds to greet Jesus because they were common, they were the tree branches that were around them. With this in mind and borrowing from an idea that has been floating over social media, I invite you to place a green branch on your doors or in your home this weekend, as a sign of welcoming Christ into your home.
2.The Palms will be blessed at Sunday’s Mass, and then stored until public liturgies have resumed. People will be able to take Palms at that time.
 
Sacred Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil (and Easter Sunday):  will not take place with a congregation.  The Liturgy Team has been planning these ceremonies based on the Vatican’s directives.  It will be very different but will still be celebrated. You may join in via the Livestream.
            Holy Thursday: 7 PM
            Good Friday: 7 PM
            Easter Vigil: 7:30 PM
            Easter Sunday: 10 AM
 
The Sacraments of Initiation will not take place at this time but will take place once public liturgies resume. Please pray for the 7 young men and women who are looking forward to joining our Family of Faith.
 
This is a very different Holy Week and Easter than any of us have ever had before.  I have been thinking of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas during all of this planning.  Remember the story?  Despite the Grinch’s attempts to prevent Christmas from happening, he couldn’t.  Christmas isn’t about the gifts and the big celebrations.   While we have some important family traditions around Holy Week and Easter, Holy Week and Easter aren’t dependent on them.  We are celebrating Christ’s Passion, Death and familyResurrection and what that means for us: Salvation and Hope, even in the darkest times.  There may not be a big Easter dinner this year, but it can be one of the most spiritually powerful experiences in our lives.
 
Peace,
Fr. David
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Parish Update: Monday March 30 10:44 AM

Happy Monday everyone!
 
 
Starting next Sunday (Palm Sunday) the Sunday Mass will be celebrated at 10AM.  A recording of the Mass will be posted on Youtube by 12Noon on Sundays.
 
Monday through Saturday Mass will remain at 8AM.
 
Holy Week will not have any public services.  The Livestream schedule is as follows:
 
Palm Sunday 10AM
Holy Thursday, Mass of the Last Supper 7PM
Good Friday Passion of the Lord 7PM
Saturday Easter Vigil 7:30PM
Easter Sunday 10AM
 
As of right now, Palms may be picked up in the entrance ways of the Church when the Church is opened.  If we need to close the Church, the plan right now is to have them available outside the front doors. However, that may change as well.  We will post any changes through Flocknote and the Blog (it is easier to update the blog quickly than the website and some of these changes are happening pretty quick).
 
The bulletin may still be picked up at the entrance ways of the Church or downloaded through the Parish Website.
 
Mass intentions:  With only one Mass celebrated on Sunday, the Mass that day will be celebrated for the People of the Parish, in accordance to Canon Law.  Intentions that had been scheduled for one of the Sunday Masses have been moved to Friday or Saturday or are being celebrated privately (refer to the bulletin to find out which).  Many people like to be present for these Masses, which currently isn’t possible.  While the Masses will still be offered for these intentions, you may contact Gloria through the office to schedule another date later in the year as well.
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Parish Update: Saturday March 28 09:29 PM

I saw a picture of a sign that had been posted at the doors of a Catholic Church that had been closed this past week: “The Church building is closed; we are still an active community of faith”.
 
Let me borrow from that sign: “St. Mary’s may not be able to have public Masses, meetings or other gatherings, but we are still an active family of faith.”  Many are joining the Mass through our livestream.  This past week around 600 people accessed our livestream 1,580 times.  Many meetings and programs have been moved to online platforms.  The staff and I are reaching out to parishioners to let them know of our continued support and prayers. 
 
In summary this is where things are right now:
 
Mass is offered 7 days a week at 8AM.  It can be watched through our livestream. A recording of it will be posted on my Youtube Channel by 11AM (probably sooner—Saturdays aren’t recording for some reason).  The Video will also be posted on our Facebook, Twitter and blog. (The Parish Leadership Team will be discussing the possibility of moving the Sunday Mass to a later time on Sunday. The earliest that would happen is Palm Sunday) (If you haven’t already, consider sending in a picture that will be placed in the Church during the celebration of Mass)
 
Even though you are not able to receive Communion, use that time to make a spiritual communion.  Here is a prayer that can be used:
 
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all tings and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.” (St. Alphonsus Ligouri)
 
Currently, the Sacrament of Reconciliation has also been suspended.  The Holy Father recently preached on this the other day, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Church’s tradition.  At those moments you are aware of your need for God’s forgiveness (even for mortal sins), turn to the Lord in prayer, acknowledge your sins, ask for his forgiveness, make an Act of Contrition and promise that you will go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as it is possible.  
 
Act of Contrition: My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. 
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
 
The Church building is open for private prayer Sunday through Friday 9AM to 12N
 
Visit our parish website or bulletin for an update on programs being offered. 
 
 

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Parish Update: Thursday March 26 01:03 PM

Dear Friends,
 
Bishop Edgar da Cunha has issued new directives for the Diocese of Fall River to help in the prevention of further spread of the Coronavirus and the overall well-being of everyone in our community:
 
1.The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not able to be celebrated except in danger of death. Canon Law states “Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by…the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones.”(#1452) 
2.Baptisms and Weddings are to be postponed except for cases of extraordinary situations.
3.Funeral Masses are not permitted. The Rite of Committal with Final Commendation may be celebrated outdoors at the cemetery and a Memorial Mass scheduled for a later date when the restrictions around public gatherings have been lifted.
4.If cases where there is difficulty in obtaining alternatives in order to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, the obligation is lifted, with the exception of Good Friday. Fridays should remain a day of penance and prayer and if not able to abstain from meat another form of denial should be practiced.
5.The suspension of public liturgies has been extended to Holy Week.  We have received directives from the Vatican on how those celebrations can occur without a congregation present.  They will still be livestreamed.  As of right now, Palms would be able to picked up at the doors of the Church when the Church is open (see #6 below). If the Church needs to be closed completely by then, they will be available outside the Front Doors of the Church. The Bishop stresses that this may change depending on the circumstances around the outbreak of the virus.
6.Currently Churches may remain open at the discretion of the Pastor and for limited hours. They need to be given a thorough cleaning and sanitizing each day.  Effective immediately, the Church will be open for the following hours:  Sunday through Friday 9AM to 12N.  The Church is closed on Saturday.
 
These are extraordinary times and while the current restrictions are painful, they are meant to protect us and help us to resume our daily activities in a safe way.  Even though we are not able to meet, we are still a family of faith and continue to support one another and help one another grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.  I continue to pray for each of you every day (and multiple times during the day!).  
 
Peace,
Fr. David
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Parish Update: Thursday March 19 11:41 AM

This weekend’s bulletin has a number of resources and some online programs.  You can access the bulletin at http://www.stmarysdartmouth.org  (please be aware that some browsers are having issues viewing the bulletin; if you are having trouble use another browser or go to https://stmarysdartmouth.blogspot.com/2020/03/resources-and-programs.html to see a listing of the resources and programs.
 
If you know of parishioners (or anyone who would be interested) that doesn’t have internet, bulletins will be available at the doors of the Church starting tomorrow during the Public Hours.
 
Also, Parishioners continue to send in pictures that are placed before the altar during Masses. If you would like to have yours included, email them to me (frdavid@stmarysdartmouth.org)
 
As things are being developed and implemented, there are some adjustments being made.  Here is the current schedule:
 
8AM Mass (via livestream, 7 days a week)
9AM to 3PM Monday through Saturday Church Open for Private Prayer (If there is a funeral we will need to close the Church until after the funeral)
 Sundays: 10AM to 3PM Church is open for Private Prayer
Sundays 5PM: Mass offered from the Rectory Chapel
6PM to 7PM Eucharistic Adoration from the Rectory Chapel
 
Activities happening in the Rectory Chapel are available through my Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDZORkX_jM0qmGqOOkRMfkA
 
I will also link it from the Parish’s Facebook Page and the UMass Dartmouth Catholic Campus Ministry Facebook Page.
 
The Parish staff continues to work from home and can be reached via voicemail and email.  Now that things are pretty much set up I will only be sending out updates through the Weekly Parish Update list on Mondays (found on the left of your dashboard on Flocknote.  If there is any major changes or announcements I will send through the “Everyone” Group.
 
Peace,
Fr. David
 
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Parish Update: Wednesday March 18 11:12 AM

After consulting other priests, we have decided not to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation at scheduled times due to the rapidly evolving situation.  We are working on a way that the Sacrament may be offered by appointment.  As soon as that is worked out we will let you know.
 
It should also be pointed out, that in cases of emergency, Viaticum, Anointings and Reconciliation are still being celebrated.
 
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Parish Update: Monday March 16 5:53 PM

Public Masses are suspended until further notice.
 
Dear Friends,
 
As you are aware Governor Baker has implemented further closures and restrictions in order to protect the public from the spread of the Coronavirus.  As a result of the current situation, I cancelled my retreat this week. In times of crisis, the Pastor’s place is with his people.
 
Bishop da Cunha has announced the following restrictions effective immediately:
 
All Public Masses are suspended until further notice.  Exceptions are for Weddings and Funerals but must be limited to immediate family (numbering no more than 10).  A dispensation from attending Mass has been granted. 
 
Homebound Communion visits are suspended until further notice.
 
Effective Tuesday March 17, the daily schedule (Sunday through Saturday) will be as follows:
 
8AM Mass (only accessible via livestream)
9AM to 3PM The Church will be open for people to stop by for prayer
6PM-7PM Eucharistic Adoration (only accessible via the livestream)
 
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays 12N-1PM the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available (please note the Sacrament will take place in the Family Room, not the confessional)
 
The Parish Offices are closed. However, staff is working from home and can still access voicemails and email.
 
We are also working at being able to offer spiritual and faith formation programs online using webinar technology and other means of delivery.  Further information will be coming later this week.
 
While current events are disconcerting, we shouldn’t be panicking.  This is a time when we need to draw our strength from the Lord.  On Wednesday at 6PM we invite you to join us through the livestream for a special hour of prayer.  The livestream can be accessed at http://www.stmarysdartmouth.org/live-streaming/
 
This morning’s first reading was from Second Kings, and spoke of Naaman who was inflicted with leprosy. One line that struck me was “But as valiant as he was, the man was a leper.” (2Kgs 5:1c). Two thoughts came to mind: 1.  As powerful as we are, as much as we know and can accomplish, we have limits.  Many things are beyond our comprehension and control. 
 
2. We are living in a unique time, one that may leave us anxious, but humanity has been here before. We have learned from our past and we know that we will persevere through the current crisis.  
 
We also need to remind ourselves that God doesn’t cause disease, but he will use it to make his glory known.  We have an opportunity to grow in our faith, to make this a time of great grace and not of fear.  
 
Later this week will have a list of resources and online opportunities to help you make this time one of spiritual growth.  
 
As always, please know of my prayers for you and your loved ones.
 
Peace,
Fr. David
 
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Parish Update: Monday March 16 5:01 AM

All Parish events are cancelled.  We are working this week to offer a number of activities online using webinar technology.  
 
All Parish Masses are still being offered.  In the event that there is a public ‘ban’ on Masses, please know that they will still be taking place and can be joined via the livestream.  In addition, in the event of such a ban, the Church will still be open outside of those times that Mass is occurring.
 
Wednesday March 18 6PM to 7PM:  Eucharistic Adoration: Join us in praying for our Church and world as we face the Coronavirus Virus.  Please join us via the livestream for this time of prayer.  http://www.stmarysdartmouth.org/live-streaming/

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Parish Update: Sunday March 15 8:13 PM

The Parish Office will be closed.
 
Staff will report to work on Monday in order to make the proper preparations to work from home.  Parish business will continue as much as possible.  We will be able to retrieve phone messages remotely, emails can be answered, etc.  Some things may take a little bit longer to be completed. Please bear with us as we make this transition.
 
As we announced this weekend, Bishop da Cunha and his advisors will be meeting tomorrow to make further decisions and recommendations for the parishes.  I expect to have an email out later tomorrow detailing those.
 
Fr. David
 
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Parish Update: Friday March 13 7:24 PM

Bishop da Cunha has lifted the Sunday Obligation for this weekend (March 14 and 15). Masses will still be celebrated. If you choose not to attend this weekend, you may join us via the livestream. Go to stmarysdartmouth.org and click on “Live streaming”.

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Parish Update: Friday March 13 12:03 PM

 
Dear Friends,
 
I wanted to bring you up to date on how the current health concerns due to the flu and Covid-19 are affecting St. Mary’s.
 
First, just a reminder, according Southcoast Health (taken from their website) while there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, there is no reason for alarm or panic.  Our area is considered low risk.  
 
We should be taking precautions, many of which are common sense and should be a part of our routine anyway.
 
There have been some added precautions implemented by houses of worship, schools, cities and towns and other venues.  This morning, Bishop da Cunha implemented a number of guidelines to be implemented immediately.
 
First:  all Masses will still take place.  However, if you have a cold, flu, fever or are feeling ill or at risk due to age or underlying health conditions DO NOT attend Mass. The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is alwayslifted in these situations.   If you are unable to attend Mass, you may still join us via the livestream.  Go to our website, stmarysdartmouth.org, and click on “Live Streaming”.
 
When receiving Communion, it must be received in the hand and not on the tongue.
 
All holy water fonts (and the baptismal font) will be emptied.
 
Due to the close quarters of our classrooms for faith formation, Faith Formation Classes for grades K-9 will be suspended.  
 
All social and non-Sacramental, non-devotions are cancelled.  This includes the use of the Parish Center by outside groups. Eucharistic Adoration and Stations of the Cross will still take place.
 
Communion to the Homebound: at this time, we are asking our Homebound Visitors to contact the caretakers or the persons who are visited to come up with a mutual decision regarding visits.  If the decision is made to temporarily suspend visits, please maintain regular contact with them and offer to pray over the phone with them. 
 
We pray for all those affected by the flu, COVID-19 or any illness. May the Lord give them strength and healing.
 
Peace,
Fr. David