Update from Father Eric:
Good news! After approximately one week since first potential exposure to COVID-19, I am still showing no symptoms. However, for various reasons, my quarantine did not begin until a few days after first potential exposure. Asymptomatic persons can still be carriers and possibly spread the virus. Therefore, adhering to CDC guidelines and following the advice of a consulted Catholic physician, I will take the full two week period for quarantine. I would expect any parish employee or parishioner in similar circumstances to do the same for the safety of others and for the sake of the common good. My plan is to return in-person to celebrate Masses at Holy Trinity (9:00am) and Nativity (11:00am) on Sunday, August 23.
While quarantined, cutting my vacation short, I will be conducting Zoom meetings with various groups as well as catching up on the 100+ emails accumulated while away. A number of those were offers of prayers for my health, for which I am very grateful. Several were concerns about the changes to the Mass schedule. I am grateful for these also because it means that the communication in the bulletin and the website has gotten through.
Change is rarely if ever easy. It is often disruptive and inconvenient. The pandemic does not make it easier. So much of what we may have taken for granted in our freedom to move about and live our lives has been challenged. I am experiencing this personally as I am under quarantine and unable to be with you all, to celebrate Mass together, to be present in the joys and sorrows of parish family life.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati continues to experience the sorrows of fewer priests in active ministry. A record number of retirements are planned over the next few years, even after the Archbishop raised the retirement age. Though there are retired priests who generously give of their time to celebrate Mass and provide the sacraments, the fact remains they will not be able to offer this assistance indefinitely. Even if a cohort of priests could be cultivated to help, it is also important for a pastor to be present as the spiritual father of the parish family. There are always limits on time and energy, but I purposely scheduled two hours between Sunday Masses so that I would be able to greet people without immediately running out the door.
The good news remains that Jesus Christ is alive! The Church is indefectible in its teaching on matters of faith and morals. She is indelibly marked by the sacred mysteries entrusted to her care. But the Church does develop over time, in two important ways. First, by discovering more fully the truth imparted to her in the deposit of faith given to the Apostles; and second, in seeking to communicate fruitfully the Gospel in every time and place.
This is no easy task but it is the one into which the Lord Jesus always invites his disciples. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, before his Ascension into Heaven, the Lord commissions his friends: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
The Catholic Church, in the lived experience of her parishes, including Holy Trinity and Nativity, is still called to develop and respond to the call of Jesus to proclaim the gospel. For this reason, we are aligning all of their energy and resources, all of the time, talent, and treasure available to them, to go and make disciples. Jesus is with us on this mission. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen!