Dear St. Charles Parish Family and All Friends in Christ,
We are officially into “Ordinary Time” on the Church liturgical calendar, but these times we are living in now are far from “ordinary” in the usual sense of the term. How do we deal with the uncertainty, disorder, and (if we listen to the news) “Terror on every side” (cf. Jer. 20:10) that seems to be a constant all around us? This liturgical season reminds us that Christ is the presence that brings an “order” or direction to our lives when we recognize him and follow him. His presence among us takes away our fear. Times of upheaval and change are an opportunity for reordering our lives. These are times to reassess our priorities, look at where we are headed, and refocus our gaze on Christ. In this sense, reopening after the pandemic is not just “getting back to normal” or to the way things were before but an opportunity for growth and maturation in our life of faith as individuals and as a parish community. We have entered the summer months, but spiritually, if we are open to the gifts the Lord is offering to us at this time, a new “springtime” is here.
A brief update after two weeks “reopened” for Mass. Our attendance has been more than expected based on the first weeks of opening experienced by other dioceses that have preceded us. In Philadelphia, we were able to open at 50% capacity. At St. Charles, we blocked off pews so that only every 3rd pew was open to maintain social distance. We are operating at 33% capacity. We opened with one Mass in English and one Mass in Spanish, and we were not maxed out at either Mass. 86 people attended the English Mass and 128 attended the Spanish Mass the first week. The numbers were slightly up the 2nd week with just over 100 attending the English Mass. We will continue with two Sunday Masses: 7:30 a.m. in English and 12:00 p.m. in Spanish. I hope to increase the Mass schedule soon, but that will depend on the number of volunteers willing to assist with greeting, ushering, and sanitizing the church after each Mass. Those who have been serving on the Reopening Team have done a great job. Things have gone smoothly these first two weeks, and we continue to learn from our experience, work out the kinks, and update the procedures as we go. We have learned that with a team of 5 cleaners, the church can be wiped down and sanitized in around 20 minutes. So there should be no difficulty getting back to the full Mass schedule with enough “hands on deck.” We will need a team of 4 greeters, 5 ushers, and 5 cleaners at each Mass. If you are willing to help in any of these roles, please contact the parish office at 215-638-3625 or email@example.com with your name and phone number. A clear “job description” will be provided for each position. I am meeting in church Saturday, June 20 at 1:00 p.m. with any new volunteers to review the reopening team instructions. Please just come to the meeting and invite a friend to join you on the Reopening Team.
The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation continues to be lifted during the Yellow Phase. There is no obligation to attend Mass at this time. Those who are sick or at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 should not come to church. We will continue to live-stream the Masses each Sunday and post them on the website, Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/scbbensalem/ and YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSf0XIKmwgRsxkG80ItXrwg. The best place to watch the Mass live or on replay is right on the homepage of our parish website: http://stcharlesbensalem.org A worship aid that includes the hymns and other music for the Mass is available on the website.
The readings for the Mass can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062120.cfm
This Sunday’s Bulletin is available here: https://www.e-churchbulletins.com/bulletins/511434.pdf
I ask all those who do intend to come to Mass to watch the instructional video and to review the guidelines for returning to Mass that are posted on the parish website http://stcharlesbensalem.org so you will know what to expect when you arrive at church. All who do come are asked to wear a face mask or cloth covering while in church, sanitize their hands, and maintain social distancing. The faithful may enter the church a half hour before the time of the scheduled Masses. The church will begin to be cleaned 15 minutes after the Mass is ended.
To make an on-line gift or become a regular electronic donor, follow this link: https://scbbensalem.churchgiving.com Those who prefer not to give on-line, please mail your offering envelope to the rectory or drop it through the mail slot in the front door of the rectory office. No gift is too small. Every gift makes a difference. Your continued financial support during this time is crucial for the ongoing operations of the parish. I am very grateful for the generosity of the many people who have maintained their weekly offering or given even more at this time.
Mass Cards are Available We are not taking “announced intentions” with set dates until we are able to return to the full Mass schedule to ensure that all intentions already scheduled can be satisfied. Those wishing to have an unannounced Mass or an “announced” Mass offered at St. Charles at the first available opening (date is not set in advance) may contact the parish office or mail in requests. Mass card pick-up is available Thursdays from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the scrip office window.
Eucharistic Adoration According to the Archdiocesan guidelines, Adoration Chapels are not permitted to be opened until Pennsylvania moves to the “Green” Phase. Until that time, Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament is permitted on the main altar of the church as long as at least one adorer is present. We will begin Adoration on Wednesdays at St. Charles as soon as we have commitments to cover the hours from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. If you are willing to spend an hour or even a half hour with the Lord before the Blessed Sacrament, please contact the parish office to sign-up for a time on Wednesdays. Please leave your name, number, and email. Those who have been regular adorers at the Our Lady of Fatima Adoration Chapel are encouraged to continue your hours of adoration at St. Charles.
Weekly On-line Scripture Reflection Group I invite everyone to join me in a weekly on-line reflection on the Sunday readings. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you a link to join the on-line meeting through Zoom. The discussion for men is at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. The meeting for women is on Mondays at 1:30 p.m.
We will remember all of our fathers, living and deceased, in the intentions for the Masses this weekend in which we celebrate “Father’s Day.” Fatherhood is a gift that can only be lived with fruitfulness and joy if we allow ourselves to be constantly generated by our Heavenly Father. Jesus, through the grace of the sacraments celebrated by the Church, makes that regeneration possible. Please remember in your prayers also the men ordained as priests by Archbishop Pérez this Saturday as they receive the sacrament of “Holy Orders”. May the priests we call “father” bring us the new life of Christ and help us, by the witness of their lives, to keep our lives ordered toward Christ.
I am grateful for your prayers and support and the many birthday wishes sent this past week! It is a privilege and joy to be called “father” here in the family we call St. Charles.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rev. Philip M. Forlano, Pastor
St. Charles Borromeo Parish
1731 Hulmeville Road
Bensalem, PA 19020
(215) 638-3625, ext. 726