Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Each of us are granted gifts and talents to help build the kingdom of God. For the most part, we understand these talents. However, some of us are either unaware of them or choose to ignore them completely. There is an expectation placed on us to use our wisdom of these talents to spread the gospel. What a treasure we have in the wisdom of each human when used wisely. This wisdom comes in many human forms: young/old, rich/poor, believer/nonbeliever. This wisdom builds our community with justice and equality. It’s a wisdom that builds the love of neighbor and supports the common good. However, during this pandemic we face unique challenges to building and maintaining a sense of community.
By now most of us know or know of someone who has been affected by the Covid-19 virus. And if not, you do now. On Monday, November 9, I received a positive PCR test result for Covid-19. The test was taken on Saturday, November 7. As you can imagine, this came as a surprise to me for, as I had no obvious symptoms outside of those common with chemo and radiation treatments. The test was part of a pre-op protocol for an upcoming cancer procedure originally planned for November 10. After learning of the positive test, I informed the staff and families that I had direct contact with that weekend. As recommended, I have quarantined myself to my suite in the rectory and the staff is working remotely as able. Two members of our liturgical staff tested positive or experienced Covid symptoms in late October, but no other staff member or member of a family whom which I had direct contact has reported any symptoms or tested positive. During the Masses I celebrated at Saint James the weekend of November 7 & 8, I wore both a face mask and face shield, which would have helped mitigate community spread during my short interactions with parishioners during Communion. At that time, I was not aware that I was infected with the virus nor had any obvious symptoms.
As Governor Mike DeWine pointed out this past Wednesday in a news conference, this virus is with us and all of us need to do our part to stop the spread. Wearing masks and not gathering in large groups is key to limiting the spread of the virus. I will be reevaluating current parish gatherings to assure that the participants are safe and health standards are kept. For those that come into the church, please use the cleaning stations that are located around the church. Remember that the Sunday obligation to attend Mass in person continues to be lifted for the foreseeable future. Those that are in the most vulnerable category should refrain from activities that may increase their risk.
Going forward, I have isolated myself from staff and Mass obligations. Fr. Deo, who’s PCR test on Tuesday, November 10 was negative, has assumed the majority of the Mass schedule. I have been able to secure the assistance of visiting priests to help as well. I will not return to saying public Mass until Monday, November 23. Unfortunately, because of the positive Covid-19 test result, the next phases of my cancer treatments are delayed one month. Phase two will now begin mid-December. Thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family during these challenging times.
Each of us has been – and continues to be – uniquely challenged during 2020. However, we are still called to invest our talents for the glory of the kingdom to the best of our abilities. This is not easy to do when faced with so many uncertainties. Nonetheless, God gives us this challenge to produce good fruit. Let us be creative in how we support the mission of the gospel. How is God asking you to support your neighbor? What wisdom can you share that will amplify the spread of the gospel and stop the spread of this virus?