Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,
This Sunday we are blessed to have Bishop Michael Burbidge visit our parish and celebrate the 12:30pm Mass. The purpose for his visit is to install me as pastor according to the liturgical rite of the church. As you may know, I served as Bishop Burbidge’s secretary during his first year in the Diocese of Arlington which allowed me to see the prayer, effort, and energy he commits to his mission to teach, sanctify and shepherd our diocese on a daily basis. We are blessed to have him as the Bishop of Arlington, and let us keep him in our prayers that he may continue to guide us in the way of Christ for our salvation.
While my assignment as pastor officially began on June 25th, the Mass this weekend and Bishop Burbidge’s presence mean a great deal to me and, God-willing, to the parish. I know that St. Andrew’s has had some glorious years in the past when Masses were full and the school had a waiting list. We have also had some difficult times - as have many parishes - and the pews and the school are no longer full. Yet so many parishioners have remained faithful, even through the difficulty and scandal. I remember when I first arrived in November and would talk to families after Mass. I was surprised how many had been here since the 1990s! It filled me with great hope. My mission is to build up the Kingdom of God at St. Andrew’s, and with my installation I can see that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings me here, just as he is the one who brings all of us to where we are today. He has a plan for our salvation, and for we parishioners, it runs through St. Andrew the Apostle parish. May we continue to grow in faith, hope, and charity as we unite ourselves more fully to God and to each other.
Back to logistics: After the Mass, Bishop Burbidge will be outside to greet (from a safe distance) those who would like to say hello. I will be with the Bishop as well and I look forward to greeting many of you. Please join me in praying for good weather!
Since public Masses have resumed at St. Andrew the Apostle, our Mass attendance has been comfortably under the capacity of the church including social distancing. Our largest Mass each weekend is under 150 parishioners. With the Bishop coming for the 12:30pm Mass, I expect many more people to attend. Some people, like my parents and sisters, will be coming down from Maryland to be here for this occasion.
In order to accommodate the potentially larger crowd, we’re having some changes this weekend. The first will be that the Mass will be live-streamed on our
. Also, the balcony will be opened for the first time since the balcony modifications began in late March. This will provide extra seating. We will also open the Holy Family chapel for the 12:30pm Mass for extra seating only; it will remain closed for the other Masses. If we get to a point where we are close to reaching capacity in the church at the 12:30pm Mass, I’ve asked the ushers to no longer allow people to seat themselves. Instead, the ushers will lead families to the remaining open pews in the church, the balcony and the Holy Family Chapel. When all of these pews are full, we will begin seating people in Hannan Hall. The audio from the Mass will be played over the sound system in the hall, and we will provide the YouTube video stream to view the Mass. We will also bring Holy Communion to Hannan Hall.
Because of the number of people at the Mass, the possibility that we will be closer than we have been since returning to public Mass, and the fact that there will be people like my parents for whom the symptoms of coronavirus would be more dire, I ask that - out of charity - everyone wear masks and practice social distancing as best as you can.
Be assured of my prayers as this weekend approaches, and I humbly beg for yours as well. May the Lord bless all of us at St. Andrew’s, and fill me and Fr. Bresnahan with the graces we need to be the priests He desires us to be for your salvation and for ours.