Messages from Msgr. Roger
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Message to Parishioners on Resumption of Public Masses

When Governor Murphy issues an executive order allowing places of worship to be open under certain conditions, we want to be prepared to do so. Bishop Sullivan has issued directives to pastors and parishes to prepare us to do so consistently throughout our diocese. I am writing to advise you as to what we may be expected to do when that time comes.

While we would all really love it if we could just pick up where we left off when this quarantine time began, we know that cannot be. At least for a period of a few months and maybe longer, until a vaccine is developed and in general use, we will have to act to protect one another from this highly contagious pandemic. I expect that all of us will find it a bit strange and disconcerting as we endeavor to celebrate the Eucharist while preserving healthy protocols. However, I am confident that, together, we shall handle it well and all of us will be the better for our mutual efforts.

Will Mass be different in any way?

First, since we are observing necessary public health protocols, we will all need to adapt ourselves to several adjustments that prior to this we would never have thought we would need to do. How we come in, where we sit, how we move about; all these will be impacted by our commitments to protect each other’s well-being.

Second, we can expect that this opening up will be done in phases with clear directives as to what must be done in each phase. We will need to maintain the protocols that will mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. This includes but is not limited to the wearing of face masks, the regular washing of hands, the use of hand sanitizer, the sanitation of surfaces and the observance of a six-foot minimum of social distancing.

We are all responsible together to ensure the observance of these protocols:

First, we will be limited as to the percentage of our building attendance capacity to be in the building at any time, initially, probably no more than 25%. For us that will mean no more than 100 persons at each of our Masses.

Second, we will enter the church by the main entrance only and exit the church after Mass only by two side exits.

Third, please be prompt. Everyone will need to enter and be seated before the time for Mass to begin. The church doors will open one half hour before Mass time. There will be no further entrance once we reach 100 persons or after Mass has begun.

Fourth, all parishioners must wear face masks while in the building and sanitize their hands as they enter the church. No one may enter without wearing a mask.

Fifth, while those who live in the same household may sit together, all others are to maintain a six-foot separation from one another.

Sixth, again, to maintain the six-foot separation, we will need to avoid gathering in groups either as we enter or exit the church building. Please go directly to your seats as you enter and continue walking into the parking lot as you exit.

Since seating will be limited, who should come to church and who should stay home?

First, it would be ideal if all who are healthy and not in a vulnerable group would come. Although no one need feel obligated to come to Mass since Bishop Sullivan’s dispensation from the obligation to participate in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days remains in effect for everyone, all who can come are most welcome and encouraged to do so. However, there are many who are expected not to come to Mass at this time. Anyone who is at high risk for contracting COVID-19 should stay home. This would include the elderly and anyone with a medical precondition such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory disease of any kind. It would include anyone with mobility difficulties. If you have the slightest doubt about whether to come, it is your duty to stay home.

Second, anyone feeling ill (under the weather), feverish, achy, or with a cough, etc. should stay home. Again, if you have even the slightest doubt, it is your duty to stay home.

Third, families with small children, who may find it difficult to observe social distancing, are encouraged to stay home.

Fourth, the best rule of thumb is that if you have even the slightest hesitation or doubt about whether to come, please remain at home not only for your own welfare but for that of your fellow parishioners. For many of us staying home is the loving thing to do!

Where are we to sit?

First, since we will be allowed to accommodate only a certain percentage of our capacity, significant segments of the church will not be available. In addition to allow for the six-foot distance, we will open the balcony.

Second, please do not sit in any place marked unavailable and always move first to the center of the pew to allow room for others to enter without having to walk past you.

Third, those going to the balcony are to take the stairs on the left side (as you face the balcony) and exit to receive communion and to leave the church by coming down the stairs on the right side (as you face the balcony). On entering the balcony, please go all the way across to the far side and take the next available seat while observing the six-foot separation.

Fourth, for your own safety and the safety of others, please always cooperate graciously with all the directions of the welcoming committee and the ushers.

How will we handle the reception of Holy Communion?

First, the distribution of Holy Communion will take place at the end of Mass to facilitate maintaining the six-foot distance and to avoid crowding at the exits.

Second, we will have two stations for the reception of Holy Communion, one in front of the altar at the center aisle and one at the right side of the altar at the end of the aisle on your right (as you face the altar).

Third, please wait for the direction from the usher before leaving your pew and approach the communion station in single file, beginning with the front pew and then each subsequent pew after that, maintaining the six-foot distance between communicants.

Fourth, people on the left side of church (as you face the altar) and people in the balcony will come to communion by the center aisle. People on the right side of church (as you face the altar) will come to communion by the right aisle.

Fifth, those coming up the center aisle, after you have received communion, will go to their left, walk up the steps beside the altar, turn left and walk along the classroom corridor, turn right at the end and exit into the courtyard and through the gate to the parking lot.

Sixth, those coming up the right aisle, after you have received communion, will walk up the steps beside the altar on your right, turn right and walk along the wall and exit the double doors on your left.

Seventh, to facilitate safely the reception of communion, please extend your cupped hands in front of the minister who will place the host in your hand. We do encourage everyone to receive in the hand and ask that those who feel a necessity to receive on the tongue to wait to the side and receive last at the priest’s communion station.

Will the restrooms be available?

First, for the welfare of everyone, the restrooms will be sanitized before and after every Mass.

Second, to limit the need to use the restrooms, all are encouraged to use their restroom at home before coming to church and to use the church restrooms only in an emergency.

Third, to maintain social distancing in the restrooms, no more than two individuals can be in any restroom at the same time.

Fourth, please observe the six-foot distance whenever there is a waiting line.

Why are we doing all this?

First, to be open for more than ten people, we need to observe all the expectations of the State of New Jersey and the Diocese of Camden. These practices are temporary but most necessary until the danger of the spread of COVID-19 has cleared.

Second, and even more importantly, these protocols are implemented for your safety and security enabling you to come to Mass comfortably and without worry. Our following these protocols very tangibly expresses our loving care for one another.

Let us rejoice and be grateful that we can come together again and celebrate the Eucharist soon on a date still to be determined.

Thank you one and all for your happy presence and your gracious cooperation!

Pentecost - May 31, 2020
“There are different gifts but the same Spirit.” I Corinthians 12:4 Here it is Pentecost already! (Fifty days since Easter!) Can you believe that, liturgically, the Easter Season comes to an end with our celebration of Pentecost? It has been since before Palm Sunday that we last gathered to celebrate Mass together. How have we been able to do this? No doubt we are beginning to raise even other questions such as: How much longer must this last? When will we be able to gather again? And, I would not doubt that at some time the question arises: Where is God in all this?Has not the Lord promised to be with us until the end of the age? Where do we find the presence of God in this present moment? I would like to suggest that the answer to that question may be found in our thoughtful reflection on another question: namely, “Where did that come from?”


Message to Parishioners on Resumption of Public Masses
When Governor Murphy issues an executive order allowing places of worship to be open under certain conditions, we want to be prepared to do so. Bishop Sullivan has issued directives to pastors and parishes to prepare us to do so consistently throughout our diocese. I am writing to advise you as to what we may be expected to do when that time comes.


“I will Not Leave You Orphans.” - John 14:18 Jesus, with these words at the Last Supper in John’s Gospel, reassured his close disciples that he would not abandon them, an important message for them to remember when they would be faced with his suffering and death. I am sure that we at times during our “Stay at Home” protocol have begun to feel abandoned, wondering when we will ever be able to gather for Mass again. The State of New Jersey has been so very heavily hurt by this pandemic, leading us to pray for our fellow citizens. However, the important indicators of the disease are trending downward. This is heartening news for us, and we are beginning to see a gradual loosening of the restrictions.


“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” These words, from the beginning of this Sunday’s gospel are quite often heard at funeral Masses when the bereaved family selects this gospel reading for the funeral of their loved one. These words are so straight forward and consoling at the same time. No wonder we want to hear their reassurance when we experience great grief.


This Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, because the Gospel reading presents the image of Christ as a shepherd, has come to be known as Good Shepherd Sunday. This focus draws our reflection to know and understand God’s love for us as found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This is where it should be and not on seeing ourselves as sheep. Although lambs are unbelievably cute, and look sweet in holy pictures; unfortunately, sheep do not provide good role models for us members of the flock.


“He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” -Luke 24:35 With those words, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus recounted to the other disciples their encounter with the risen Lord. They did not recognize him at first, even as he opened the Scriptures to them saying, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” It was only when he stayed with them and at dinner, said blessing over the bread, broke it, and gave it to them that their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.


With these words, Jesus greeted his disciples in the upper room on the evening of his Resurrection. May the Peace of Christ be with you and all your loved ones as we begin this Easter season. We do so amid all the concern and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. We can have peace in our hearts for we are buoyed up by the self-sacrificing love of so many.


This Thursday we begin the Paschal Triduum, the most sacred celebrations of our Liturgical year culminating in the Joy of our Easter celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord. Of course, ideally, we would gather in church to observe these rites. However, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, we stay apart, staying home to mitigate it’s spread and to keep everyone safe and healthy. Let me share some suggestions on how you may observe these days at home.


The ugliness of the crucifixion and the grief at the death of Jesus, give way to the unbounded joy of the Resurrection. The Lord is risen! “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!” Alleluia!
Click here for the full homily


The last words of the Gospel of Matthew embody the final words of Jesus to his disciples. “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world.” These words, spoken just before his Ascension to the right hand of the Father, reassured his disciples and reassure us that, although we cannot see or touch him, he is with us and we are connected. We are not alone. You are not alone.


Usually around this time, we are remarking about how quickly (or slowly) Lent is passing by. “It will be Holy Week before we know it!” But this year is different. The demands of public health and of our love for our neighbor bid us NOT to gather for Sunday Mass. Rather, we will remain separated in order to stay healthy and to keep others from getting sick. This is our Lent of counter-intuitive fasting, staying home rather than going to Mass, which we do out of love for one another. What, then, are we to do? May I make two humble suggestions?


With our governor’s directive to stay home, we are entering a kind of time unlike anything we have experienced before. Be sure to take good care of yourself and your loved ones during the duration of this coronavirus pandemic. Good handwashing, maintaining social distance and care for your own physical and spiritual health are paramount. Please remember to eat nutritiously, exercise, get your rest and pray regularly. It would be wise to establish a daily pattern of activity to do this. For many of us, this staying at home may be a strange change from the business of our lives. Please see it as an opportunity to pay attention to and accomplish those things we have wanted to get around to doing. For example, if you have said that you wanted to read the Bible, why not set aside some time to do it now.


This morning Governor Philip Murphy issued an executive order further restricting residents of New Jersey. In compliance with this directive that people are not to leave home except for essential business, our church and parish office are closed until further notice.