Dear friends in Christ,
It’s now been a month since public Masses were suspended in the Archdiocese of Seattle—a month that in some ways has felt like a year!
This seems to me a good time to share with you about how the mission of the Cathedral parish is continuing during the shutdown. As you know, our mission as a parish is to
, and to
, and thanks to the wonderful team of people who minister with me at the Cathedral, we have been able--with your support and with God's grace--to continue to fulfill our mission in spite of these unprecedented circumstances.
. Thousands of you have been able to participate in the Masses and liturgies of Holy Week via livestream. It was a Holy Week and Easter unlike anything we could ever have imagined, but I felt, in a strange way (and perhaps you did, too), that we were never more a community than during these past days. Thanks to the wonders of technology, the worship of our Cathedral community continues. It’s certainly not ideal, but God works in mysterious ways, and I know God is working through this in ways we will only gradually come to understand and that, when all is said and done, we will have deepened our hunger for the Eucharist and grown in gratitude for our community of faith.
. It was incredibly difficult to make the decision, last month, to suspend the operations of the Cathedral Kitchen and Winter Shelter. But we had no choice, and thanks to your support, the Cathedral’s outreach to the poor continues. Dozens of you have continued to make sandwiches for St. Martin de Porres Shelter as well as to provide meals for some of the temporary emergency shelters created for homeless men and women. I know you will be encouraged to know that every Tuesday hundreds of sandwiches and other food items are collected at the Cathedral and delivered to those in need. In addition, the tutors of our Immigrant Assistance Program have been able to continue to teach English via Skype and Zoom. And our St. Vincent de Paul volunteers are busier than ever, making their visits by phone, and helping those who have lost work to pay their rent and buy food. All this is possible thanks entirely to your wonderful ongoing support.
. I think one of the hardest things to accept this Easter was that our wonderful group of eleven people preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil has had to wait for the Sacraments of Initiation. But thankfully, they have still been able to participate via Zoom in their weekly “dismissals” and to support one another along this unexpected bend in the road of their journey of faith. Please continue to pray for them. We will keep you posted about when the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist will be celebrated and I know we will make it a day to remember!
Many of you have asked me how the Cathedral is weathering the shutdown financially.
Our Finance Council has been meeting regularly to monitor the situation. Thanks to so many of you who give online or have stepped up to make some truly extraordinary gifts these last few weeks, our losses are not as great as they could be – not as great as those of many parishes and small businesses. Our Sunday collections are down about 25%, which means we are losing approximately $20,000 each week. The Finance Council and I are completely in agreement that keeping our staff is a top priority. For that reason, we are going to take out loans to bridge the gap until we are once again able to gather as a community. So, in spite of this difficult moment and the long road that lies ahead, I want to reiterate how aware I am of how much we have to be grateful for. Most of all, I am grateful to you for your great spirit and your generosity.
I also want to tell those of you who have been laid off or furloughed from your jobs, as well as those of you who own small businesses or even large ones, that I can only begin to imagine the depth of your concern and anxiety at this time. My prayers are with you in a special way and I know that your fellow parishioners hold you in prayer, as well.
To conclude, I would just add that the Cathedral staff, working from home, are working our way through the parish directory, making phone calls to check in on our parishioners. We are especially eager to be in touch with those of you who are not able to receive our email communications. Those without Internet access are experiencing the greatest distance from the community. In the process of making these calls, we are becoming aware of how inaccurate many of our phone numbers are, so if you would like to receive a phone call and haven’t, please do contact the parish office (206-622-3559), give us the best number to reach you, and someone will be in touch.
My friends, I want to assure you of my continued prayers for each one of you. God will bring us through these difficult days, and my prayer is that we will be an even stronger community of faith when we are back together in our beloved Cathedral.
Father Michael G. Ryan