Monday, May 25, 2020
I had prepared a reflection for the National Holiday of Memorial Day. The reflection for today, though, takes precedence.
My Memorial Day reflection will appear tomorrow, Tuesday, May 26.
Dear Parishioners of St. Thomas More Parish,
On Friday, May 23, 2020, President Trump said,
“I call on governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue and to their mosque.
The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t, I will override the governors.”
Although President Trump indicated his preference to re-open all worship spaces, St. Thomas More and all the Parishes in the Diocese of San Diego did not re-open under the directives of Bishop Robert McElroy, Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego.
It is one thing to just say re-open and it is another thing to say we will re-open but in a safe and well-thought-out manner, keeping in mind the government and diocesan directives that have been created with the sole purpose of keeping people as safe as possible in the midst of this pandemic.
About 10 days ago, our Diocese presented a template for the re-opening of Churches in our Diocese.
This template was a result of discussion with the Bishop, the Deans of the Diocese, and the Executive Board of the Presbyteral Council.
This template was then sent to all the Pastors with the directive to use the template in creating a re-opening plan for each individual Parish.
The plan was to be submitted to the Diocese by Friday, May 23.
I met with Ron Briseno, Business Manager/Director of Development; Douglas Lynn, Director of Liturgy and Music; Isaac Deken, Youth Advocate; and, Joseph Dang & Peter Nguyen, Leadership of the Vietnamese-speaking Members of STM.
We met for several hours and created our re-opening plan, based on the Diocesan template, which we sent to the Bishop on Friday, May 23.
It should be noted that Bishop McElroy, after President Trump’s comments were made public, issued his directive that Churches in our Diocese would not be open until plans for a safe re-opening were in place.
At this time, we wait for Diocesan approval of our Parish re-opening plan.
As soon as I know, our Parishioners will know! The details of our plan will become public at that time.
I realize how “hungry” everyone is for the Eucharist, and for the return of some semblance of “Faith Life & Faith Community.”
It will happen! I beg for everyone’s patience, perseverance, and trust in the process that is being created with the help of our Diocese.
As Pastor, I will not haphazardly just re-open our Parish for Masses without planning to create as safe an environment as possible.
I will close with this comment from Deon K. Johnson, the Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Missouri:
The work of the Church is essential.
The work of caring for the lonely, the marginalized, and the oppressed is essential.
The work of speaking truth to power and seeking justice is essential.
The work of being a loving, liberating, and life-giving presence in the world is essential.
The work of welcoming the stranger, the refugee, and the undocumented is essential.
The work of reconciliation and healing and caring is essential.
The Church does not need to ‘open’ because the Church never ‘closed.’
We who make up the Body of Christ, the Church, love God and our neighbors and ourselves so much that we will stay away from our buildings until it is safe.
We are the Church!
Soon and very soon we will gather together to worship, and do so in the safest environment that we can create.