A Message from Our Pastor

June 15th 2021 Update

I enjoy mass at our Divine Mercy Chapel. People are able to be closer to the altar than within the church. It has an informal family picnic kind of feeling which helps those who attend feel connected and supported. The outdoor chapel has a beauty which I do appreciate. I also love adoration and the accessibility this outdoor chapel provides. I am in awe of the presence and the blessings so many have received in this sacred place. Additionally, I am grateful for the sacrifices and service given by those who have made all this possible.

At the same time this outdoor chapel comes with limitations: processions, postures and liturgical participation are sharply reduced and complicated. “Let us kneel. Let us stand.” These postures which are integral to our worship can’t be done inside a car. (I know some people get out of their cars to stand for the gospel. And I acknowledge that in some cases people almost heroically kneel down during the Eucharistic Prayer and struggle to stand.)

I know that when cars get too far away from the area directly before the altar, visitors and guests often find zoom and their inability to physically see the altar a reason to look for a different church for Eucharist. I admit that I appreciate people who arrive an hour early to get a prime location, but this highlights the undesirability of some of the parking spots.

I want more active participation at St. Jerome. I want choirs. I want families to bring up the offertory. I want servers. I want people to be able to see one another.

I was recently surprised by a parishioner to hear her speak about her faithful attendance at our 10am Mass. On my part, I don’t recall having actually SEEN her in over a year. Cars do keep us distanced and safe… but especially with masks, conceal. 

People who have been away do and will appreciate our creativity during this year of exile, but they aren’t asking for a place in the parking lot, rather for a place to sit, kneel and stand in the church.

Beginning Sunday, July 4th, all Sunday Masses will be held inside the church. I apologize for any inconveniences this will cause you, but as we made it through the mess of these last 15 months, I know we can do this change gracefully, as well. For your awareness, our current mass schedule for Sundays is 8am, 10am, Noon and 5pm. We do not currently have a Saturday Evening Mass.

The 8am and 10am masses will continue to be zoomed. Some of our community for reasons of health, are unable to come inside. If this applies to you or a loved one, let us know so we can arrange a “zoom parking-lot communion” possibility. Non-Sunday masses and adoration will continue outside as I and others really do appreciate mass and how it flows into adoration there. Also, if circumstance change, as they constantly seem to be… we will be ready, if needed.

What brings all this up is our excused absence from attending mass has now been cancelled. Sunday Mass, attending in person, is back for all the faithful.

In Archbishop Jose Gomez’ words: “On June 19th and 20th, I encourage the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to return to in-person Sunday Mass and the celebration of the Sacraments, especially for those who are in good health. By this letter, effective June 19, 2021, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation in response to the coronavirus pandemic will be lifted for the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Those who have serious and legitimate reasons (e.g., illness, underlying health conditions that renders them susceptible to illness, significant fears of becoming ill, etc.,) are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation.”

1. All religious services are allowed to take place indoors without capacity limitations, social distancing, and/or prearranged “reservation” systems. 

2. Parishes can open for prayer group meetings, ministerial gatherings, and social gatherings provided that sensible public health precautions are observed. (Please note that as some of these rooms have not be in use in over a year, a deep cleaning might be prudent before returning to “normal” usage.)

3. Masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals outdoors or indoors for religious services. Non-vaccinated people are asked to wear masks indoors.

4. Volunteers “working” at mass will be required to wear masks when working in the church.

5. Hand sanitation must be available for all visitors.

6. Liturgical singing can take place.

7. Communion will only be under the form of bread. Communion on the hand is strongly encouraged but communion on the tongue is now permitted.

8. Liturgical processions may resume (e.g. Presentation of the Gifts)

9. The globs of hand sanitizer that quickly occupy the Holy Water fonts are the reason St. Jerome will not yet have Holy Water in those common use locations. Holy Water will be available in the vestibule. Bring your own container for your personal use.

10. Parishes are to begin having scheduled confession times for the faithful. (How can you have a Catholic Church without sacraments?)

 

Thank you for patience, kindness and prayers!

Your brother in Christ, Fr. Bill