March 26, 2020
The Lord give you Peace!
As your pastor at Immaculate I hold all of you in prayer and in blessing. I deeply sense how each of you are doing your best to adopt to a reality that is imposed upon all of us in a relatively unexpected way – a reality that is not easy to manage. I think of your children and how they deeply pray to change our life circumstances of quarantine so that they might be able to return to school on Monday. They must miss their friends, teachers and studies ever so much. And I know that something similar holds true for the many among us who are now working from home and worse yet for the many who have been laid off. All of us are confronted with the need to embrace this ‘new normal’ so that the COVID-19 curve will flatten and enable us to once again to savour the breadth and depth of sharing life in community.
As we embrace the call to social distance I pray that we ponder and take seriously the well being of our grandparents and elders, our children, coworkers, the poor on the east side and those on the front line caring for the infected and sick.
This past week a couple from Immaculate contacted me to reschedule their May wedding to a later date in the summer. They pray for the simple joy to embrace their families on their wedding day. When I first began working with this couple last fall I never would have imagined that this would become one of the deepest prayers they would raise to God before their wedding day. COVID-19 is deeply impacting our normal interactions.
As a Parish family I pray that we hold the McKeown family in our prayer. +Joe McKeown died this past week. Winnie and his daughters and family surrounded him in love and prayer as God took him home. The funeral will be on Saturday. Due to the need for social distancing the funeral will be a private one for the family. His daughters and sons will carry their father’s casket- they wanted to bring their dad back home to Immaculate one final time. If it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic this would be an exceptionally large Funeral Mass.
As I gather with Winnie and her family for the funeral on Saturday, I trust in faith that many of you - +Joe’s brothers and sisters in Christ- many Knights of Columbus, neighbors and extended family will be present in prayer. What we have come to name as ‘social distancing’ will physically limit the number at the funeral but in faith I know that the space between family members will be filled with your mystical presence, prayer and love. Winnie, in her heart, knows that you will be present with them in prayer and surrounding her and her family with your goodness and love. Please know that you can extend your condolences on line to the family through the Kearney Funeral services.
Eternal rest grant unto +Joe, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in Peace. Amen.
Finally, this past Sunday – I was most aware that Mass absolutely needed to be celebrated at our little Church. Sunday Masses were celebrated here at Immaculate since 1926. As I celebrated Mass without a congregation I also knew that through God’s grace everyone who calls Immaculate home was present with me in a spiritual communion. We all need to quarantine but let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is holding us in a most ‘Real Presence’. We are the Mystical body of Christ. This morning a grade 2 boy came to the Church with his mother. From a distance of well over 6 feet I asked him to pray for everyone who calls Immaculate home. He stood up – prayed Hail Mary... with a purity of heart, a tenderness and with the deep conviction that God is among us right here and now.
In the midst of quarantine may the Lord gift us with the beatific vision to behold that even though we need to be socially distancing right now God is holding us in the palm of his hand.
Peace and good … Father Paul OFM