Letter from Fr. Keith (July 7)

Dear Parishioners of St. Dunstan’s,

I want to begin this week by thanking the group of parishioners who worked so hard preparing to welcome our brothers and sisters, attending last week’s four Masses. Because of their commitment and efforts, things went along smoothly, in spite of the various adaptations needed to comply with Chief Public Health Office regulations. We gratefully acknowledge the work of our provincial CPHO in developing guidelines to support our health and well-being as we come together to worship.

The dedication of the organizing group and public health expertise were met and supported by the cooperative spirit of those parishioners who came together after almost four months without public Sunday Mass. It’s an adjustment for all of us. None of us would choose things to be as they are. Still, the best way for us to respond is to face the reality of our present situation with courage and hope. Patience and good humour also never go astray.

This week, we will welcome 100 to our Sunday 9 am Mass. Public Health directives indicate we are able to have 100 people at Mass in a church the size of the Basilica, if they are divided into 2 distinct groups of 50. These groups must stay completely separate before, during, and after Mass. This is to make contact tracing easier should an issue with COVID-19 arise. Please begin to arrive at least 20 minutes before Mass time. We have divided the church according to North (Sydney St. side) and South (Dorchester St. side). If you registered before mid-afternoon Thursday, you are in the North group. After that, you will have noted the division upon registering. Please take note of and remember if you are North or South. Upon arrival, everyone is asked to use the main stairway on Great George St.: the side closest to Dorchester if you are in the South group; and Sydney, if you are in the North. Please go directly to the correct side of the steps.

No need to be anxious, simply aware. The area will be clearly marked. You will be greeted outside by an usher, and guided in to sit on the appropriate side of the church. We remind you of the need to keep separate from the other group after Mass, as well.

This week, all other Masses will have a capacity of 50. We will gradually increase that number. To do that, we need your continuing support to help check names at the door, greet and guide people to their seats, and with cleaning immediately following the Mass. If you’d be willing to help out, see one of the hospitality group at the Mass you attend or email jawhite5414@gmail.com ; brhood12@hotmail.com ; or saintdunstans@gmail.com

It’s important for all of us—including me!—not to be overly distracted by the necessary changes we now experience when we come to church. Not only is every place of worship around the world adapting to the same reality; every society is. We’re all in it together in a way that seldom happens. Let’s pray our shared struggle with COVID-19 will help build human solidarity and an ever-deepening commitment to the common good on the part of all lands and nations.

In spite of the—we could call them superficial—changes we need to make when we come to church, we celebrate the same Eucharist we always have. The risen Christ graces us with his transforming nearness in one another, in the Word we hear, and most uniquely and profoundly in his Real Eucharistic Presence. He continues to offer our praise to the Father, and to make us like himself through the power of their Spirit. As before, we are sent forth to proclaim the gospel by the holy—if imperfect—living out of our lives.

A reminder that registration is required for all the Masses—weekend and weekday. Please follow the link on the parish website: www.stdunstanspei.com. May I ask you to be attentive to parishioners you know who may not have internet access, and offer to register for them? Alternatively, those unable to register online may telephone 902-892-9387, 902-621-1988, or 902-894-3486. Several parishioners have offered to provide this service as needed. Our thanks to them.

In this Sunday’s first reading the prophet, Isaiah, speaks thus the Word of the Lord: …so shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Lots of things in life—in Isaiah’s time and in ours—might lead us to interpret God’s Word through Isaiah not to be so. Isaiah encourages us. Even if personal difficulties or such global challenges as a pandemic stifle and baffle and frighten us, hold on. God’s promise will come to fullness. God’s saving desire for us will not be outdone by happenstance or turmoil. Fr. Louis, the Trappist monk known to the world as Thomas Merton, put it this way:

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Let us continue, this week, to hold one another and our world in prayer, especially mindful of our brothers and sisters where COVID-19 ravages.

Peace be with you and yours,

Fr. Keith


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