March 19, 2020
 
Dear Friends:
 
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you”
(2 Cor. 13:13).
 
I want to offer you the latest parish information in response to COVID-19. On an ongoing basis, we have created a special section on the front page of our parish website ( stmarys-wbl.org ) with information regarding parish life. The website will be updated as needed to provide you with the most current parish information.
 
Before updating you on parish life, I offer three important messages. First, please take this virus seriously. Christian charity calls us to limit the spread of the virus by following the recommendations of health care professionals and civil leaders. Seniors and those with weakened or compromised immune systems should be particularly careful to limit contact with others. Health care professionals and our civil leaders say that the next two weeks are critical to containing the spread of the virus. Please do your part by following the recommendations of our health care professionals.
 
Secondly, many people in our communities are making heroic sacrifices to care for, educate, encourage, feed, and protect others. Unfortunately, some people will seek to take advantage of this situation. Please be especially attentive for scams and phishing efforts. DO NOT OPEN EMAILS OR ATTACHMENTS FROM AN UNKNOWN SOURCE. Authorities warn us to be especially cautious of any email regarding COVID-19. You should also be suspicious of emails from organizations unknown to you asking for monetary donations to support victims of COVID-19.   
 
Finally, and most importantly for us as people of faith, do not be afraid. The Lord promises to be present to us, especially in trying times. Be confident in this promise! You are not alone. Your parish staff and I are available, should you have a particular need. Call 651-429-7771 option 1.
 
Public Masses Suspended
Archbishop Hebda has made the painful but necessary decision to cancel the public celebration of all Masses throughout the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In his announcement, the archbishop reminded us that the obligation to attend Mass has been lifted, meaning that no one is committing a sin by not being present for Sunday Mass . The archbishop encouraged everyone to watch Mass via television and other technology, stressing the graces obtained through spiritual communion (the desire to be present and receive the Eucharist when unable to attend Mass). The different opportunities to watch Mass can be found on the archdiocesan page  www.archspm.org/covid19 .
 
At St. Mary of the Lake, I will celebrate Mass at least once each day. Pursuant to the archbishop’s announcement, these Masses are not open to the public. If you requested a Mass intention, please be assured I will celebrate Mass for your requested intention as scheduled. If I celebrate a second weekday Mass, my intention will be for the families of St. Mary of the Lake and Frassati Catholic Academy. I will celebrate the weekend Mass on Saturday and post a recording of the Mass to the front page of our website ( stmarys-wbl.org ). You will be able to watch the Mass anytime after that, preferably on Saturday evening or Sunday. The Mass responses and a link to the readings will be on our parish website. 
 
Confessions
The archbishop is encouraging priests to continue celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation, while, at the same time, respecting the directives of civil leaders and health care experts. I will hear confessions on Saturday mornings beginning at
9:00 AM. Please honor the directions for social distancing and the celebration of the sacrament that will be posted at the church.
 
Anointing of the Sick
Please call the parish office if a loved one is dying. I will visit and celebrate the sacraments with them. 
 
Funerals
We will continue to celebrate funeral liturgies. However, the number of people allowed for the liturgy will be limited to no more than 10. No visitation or luncheon will be permitted.
 
Weddings
I am working with those couples preparing to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage.
 
Baptisms
No baptisms will be celebrated until further notice. The only exception to this rule would be a danger of death situation.  
 
Communion Visits to Nursing Homes, Hospitals and Private Homes
Communion visits are canceled at this time. 
 
Frassati Catholic Academy
Frassati Catholic Academy is closed to students from March 16-March 27, 2020. Teachers and staff prepared resource packets for the students, which were picked up on Tuesday. I am grateful to Mr. Gallivan and the staff who have done an outstanding job, so that Frassati students resumed instruction on Monday. All school related events are canceled until further notice.
 
Faith Formation
Faith Formation classes in the building are canceled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 year. However, Faith Formation will continue at home. St. Mary of the Lake staff prepared packets for Faith Formation students and will contact those families who have not picked up their materials. I offer prayers and encouragement to parents in your vocation as the first teachers of your children in the ways of the faith.
 
Sacramental Preparation
Parish staff has contacted parents of those preparing for the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist.    
 
Stations of the Cross, Rosary, Choir Rehearsal, Parish Meetings, Prayer Groups, Bible Studies, Synod Activities
All parish related meetings and activities not mentioned above are canceled until further notice.
 
Community Resources
We have seen the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 and know that many families will experience financial hardship in the upcoming days and weeks. A list of local organizations able to assist families with emergency assistance and meals is located on our website.
 
Parish Stewardship
I ask parishioners to remember the financial needs of the parish. Most of our costs are fixed, including the salaries of our employees, who continue to work to meet the needs of our parishioners.
 
Prayer
Finally, I ask you to say extra prayers, especially for the sick and those who care for them, first responders, and those in the laboratories seeking to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. Pray for those who are isolated, especially the elderly, the homebound, and those in nursing homes and care facilities. Pray for our civil leaders, that they would have the wisdom to make decisions that protect and promote the common good. Pray for Archbishop Hebda. Let us pray for each other, that this time of fasting from the reception of the Eucharist would increase a deeper longing for the Lord and an increased attentiveness to the needs of others. 
 
Peace, Fr. Talbot
White Bear Area Food Shelf
will have “To-Go” Bags, Monday-Friday

No Appointment Necessary, any and every household is eligible to receive them. Food helpline 1-888-711-1151. Hours: 

Monday: 10 AM-12:30 PM
Tuesday: 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Wednesday: 10 AM – 12:30 PM
Thursday: 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Friday: 10 AM -12:30 PM

Mahtomedi Area Food Shelf:  651-395-5350
Vadnais Heights Community Food Program:  651-746-4158
Questions about “ Meals On Wheels”  651-653-3123
National Alliance on Mental Health:  651-645-2948
Northeast Youth & Family Services:  651-429-8544
Medicare/Health Insurance – Senior Link – Age Line:  1-800-333-2433