Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we bring to conclusion our Christmas season with the Baptism of the Lord. With this celebration we also begin the beautiful season of Ordinary Time, where once again we reflect on the events of Jesus’ life. Through His teachings, miracles, healings and interactions with people, we are strengthened to reflect on the experiences of Jesus in our own daily life. We teach and lead by example. We perform miracles by the power of the Spirit (some we may see). We heal by showing compassion. Through our interactions we are reminded that we are brothers and sisters.
As we made this transition last year, we had great optimism for the ending of the pandemic with the availability of the vaccines and our continued Covid-19 social practices. Unfortunately, that is not the reality that we are currently facing. Each of us has our concerns and opinions about life during the pandemic. I received this week two documents from the Diocese that I would like to share with you. I believe they help us understand the medical situation in Northeastern Ohio and the approach the Diocese is currently taking to address the challenges that are present. Both documents can be found on the parish website. I encourage you to read them if you wish to be informed.
The briefing on the surge of Covid cases in Northeastern Ohio provides insight on the impact of Covid, especially the Omicron variant, on our health care system. In reflecting on this briefing, let us recommit ourselves to praying for our health care professionals and the sick in hospitals and other health care facilities.
The Memorandum presented to the priests by Fr. Oleksiak presents us with updated guidelines as the Diocese copes with the ongoing pandemic. The one area of concern I would like to address is the reality when a priest contracts the virus. As you know, Fr. Deo is the chaplain at Fairview Hospital and frequently has to minister to Covid patients. And throughout my ministry, I encounter many groups of people. Although we take precautions, we are susceptible to potentially contracting the virus. If this would happen to either or both of us, I will take steps to protect the staff and those that participate at Mass. This may result in closing the offices and cancelling Masses during the time of recovery. As we pray for your safety, please pray for ours.
I know that these current challenges can be overwhelming and that we are also dealing with pandemic fatigue. But it’s also a time to remember, with gratitude, how far we have come. Through intense research, we have vaccines, an antiviral pill, a better understanding of how this virus affects people of all ages, and most students are safely receiving in-person education. Furthermore, many acts of charity have been evident on how we have supported one another.
As with the new liturgical season, we look forward with great hope knowing that we may still have challenges, but that the grace of God will help us persevere. May this grace give healing to the sick, comfort to the mourning, and strength for us to care for our brothers and sisters.
Peace and Strength to all.