Special to the Journal
This week I had a telephone conversation with Fr. John Sheridan, pastor of Morning Star Catholic Collaborative, which is the monogram for St. Mary of the Assumption Parish/Revere and Our Lady of Grace, Chelsea/Everett.
For Fr. John, all parishioners, and Christians throughout the world, it is a Lenten season like no other, and a tragic and abnormal time. He encourages all to pray for those who have contracted and suffered from the Coronavirus, specifically for those who have died from it, for our first responders, and all those courageous people who put their lives at risk combating this horrific disease.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent concluded on March 29th and Palm Sunday is next week, a milestone for Christians across the world. Palm Sunday marks Jesus Christ’s triumphant return to Jerusalem and, as all four gospels tell us, palm fronds were waved and placed on the ground while crowds sang and danced. Days later, He was arrested on Holy Thursday night and ultimately executed the next day. On the third day after His crucifixion Jesus rose from the tomb. Easter is celebration of His Resurrection. Normally all catholic churches including the three in Revere, are filled to capacity each week during Lent – anticipating the Holy Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. But these are not normal times. And, the churches are empty.
“Asked to describe his feelings as a pastor who presides over two parishes, particularly in this Lenten season during the Coronavirus pandemic, Fr. John says, “It is so strange. I feel as if I am walking out into a void and it stretches from one month to another.” He continues, “For the past 38 years, 30 as an ordained priest (this year) and eight as a seminarian, these weeks in Lent and leading through the Triduum, is what I have done…what we all do. For everyone now it is so strange. It is so very painful for those directly linked to this virus in one way or another.”
Fr. John continues, “For the last two week’s masses, the Fourth and Fifth Sunday of Lent, we have live-streamed a 12:00 PM mass on the Morning Star Catholic Collaborative Facebook page.”
In fact, the upcoming Palm Sunday mass, Holy Thursday: Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday: the celebration of the Lord’s Passion and the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil will also be live-streamed on the Facebook page. “I am grateful to Richard Serino (producing the video) and Linda DeCristoforo (Lector) for making this possible. I am also so grateful to the entire staff, both St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Grace. They have been working remotely during this time. All are incredibly kind, generous, and wonderful people.”
His message to his parishioners is simple, “Stay in touch and don’t hesitate to contact either him or Linda DeCristoro, the Collaborative’s Pastoral Associate. Fr. John is extremely tech savvy and a proponent of many types of communications. He encourages parishioners to connect with him and each other. “I’ve been receiving much support from parishioners through phone calls, emails, texts, the Morning Star Catholic Collaborative Facebook page, or webpage..” He also wants people to know he is available to just speak with him.
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has been very helpful,” Fr. John emphasized. At St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Grace there have been many modifications and protocols set up regarding funerals, weddings, marriage ceremonies, and baptisms. He stated, “People have been incredibly good at understanding, particularly regarding funerals and graveside services. At these special and meaningful times is difficult for the families.”
In conclusion he reassures positiveness, “All of the office staff and myself are looking forward to the time when we can all be together.” This is a sentiment we can all can relate to.
To contact the Morning Star Catholic Collaborative Call St. Mary’s Parish Office at (781)284-4935 or Our Lady Of Grace Parish Office at (617) 884-0030. The Facebook page is “Morning Star Catholic Collaborative”, or webpage, https://www.morningstarcatholic.org/.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Office of Risk Management Summary of Guidelines as of March 25
All Masses and religious services that would normally be open to the public in all Archdiocesan parishes, missions, and campus ministries are suspended until further notice.
Confirmations scheduled to take place in the Archdiocese of Boston prior to Easter are postponed. We will soon follow up with those parishes regarding what options will be available for rescheduling, subject to guidance regarding public gatherings after April 7.
Baptisms and weddings may proceed but, following Governor Baker’s Emergency Order issued March 23, attendance must be limited to no more than 10 persons. In the interest of the health of the people we serve, these liturgies should be limited to only immediate family.
Effective Monday, March 23, Funeral Masses and other forms of funeral services at our churches are suspended in the Archdiocese of Boston. We recommend that the bereaved be offered the opportunity for a graveside committal service during this time and a Memorial Mass when we are able to again offer the celebration of Mass and religious services at our parishes and churches.
Masses that are taped or streamed from the Church should be limited to essential people without a congregation.
The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass for the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston remains in place until public celebration of the Mass can be safely resumed.
Priests may still hear confessions celebrating the Sacrament of Penance when requested. Penance Services are to be discontinued until further notice. Priests are to take reasonable precautions between the penitent and confessor. Priests are reminded to observe the necessary distance of six feet between priest and penitent, and the recommended steps such as handwashing before and after meeting with the penitent, as well as wiping the surfaces in the area between confessions. Since some penitents prefer anonymity, a screen should be available in the Reconciliation Room or office in the rectory where confession would take place, thus preserving anonymity for those who choose it AND making it an easier area to clean between confessions than the confessional might be.
The Sacrament of Penance is always offered when the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is celebrated.