Dear St. Catharine of Siena Parishioners,
The great Christmas feast is quickly approaching. Everyone is busy cleaning the house, getting out the Christmas decorations and buying last minute gifts for family, friends and loved ones. Our annual exercise in holiday over-extension is more difficult this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been one hundred years since the last one—the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed over 50 million people world-wide. Fortunately, advancements in scientific research and medical care give us a tremendous advantage over those who had to face a pandemic a century ago. Nevertheless, we are all on edge as we feel our way through the current world-wide crisis.
Christmas Masses this year will be celebrated with close attention to pandemic guidelines. The schedule for our four liturgies is: 3:00 PM, 5:30 PM and 11:00 PM (Christmas Eve) and 10:00 AM (Christmas Day). Please note we have moved the second Mass time ahead a half hour to allow for thorough cleaning and sanitizing of church after the first service. Church will, of course, be cleaned a second time before the 11:00 PM Mass and again before the morning Mass on Christmas Day.
Please remember that less seating will be available in church this Christmas. According to pandemic guidelines, every other pew must be roped off (please do not remove the ropes!) to provide adequate physical distancing between those in front and those behind. Family members may sit close together in the same pew, but other people in that pew should follow the six-foot physical distancing requirement. And, everyone, please wear a mask in church this Christmas!
Many people have been avoiding large crowd gatherings during the pandemic and, I suspect that mentality will impact and probably lower attendance at Christmas Masses. As you well know, the US Bishops have lifted the “obligation to attend” requirement from all the Christmas feast days. And so perhaps it’s helpful to remember that Christmas is not a one-day liturgical celebration but a two-week Season. It begins on Christmas Eve & Day (Dec 24-25) and continues with the feasts of The Holy Family (Dec26-27); Mary, Mother of God (Dec 31-Jan 1); The Epiphany (Jan 2-3) and The Baptism of the Lord (Jan 9-10). We will also be celebrating the Christmas mystery on the weekdays between the great feast days with Mass at 10:00 AM (Tues. & Thurs). I expect that the 3:00 & 5:30 Mass times on Christmas Eve will continue to be the preferred opportunity to celebrate Christmas Mass. However, I encourage those who want to avoid large gatherings and those who are able to adjust their personal schedules to attend either the 11:00 PM Eve or 10:00 AM Day Mass on Christmas, or choose one of the other Christmas feast days listed above for your Christmas Mass.
In the midst of this difficult pandemic, it’s helpful to remember that the world was rather a mess two thousand years ago when God sent his Son to become one with us. The Romans were expanding throughout the Mediterranean world, gobbling up kingdoms and peoples along the way. Although they brought many societal advancements with them, the Romans also spread oppression, upheaval and greed in the process. Luke’s gospel reminds us that Jesus was born during a census—a tool to measure, control and dominate the lives of others. Some people benefited from these changes in society, but others—especially the very poor (90+% of the population)—suffered greatly as this new world order imposed itself. It was especially for these lowly ones that the Savior was born.
So, here we are approaching the third decade of the twenty-first century accepting the call to welcome God’s Son to be with us in our own trying and difficult time. Christmas gives us the opportunity to re-affirm our faith that God-is-with-us—“Emmanuel.” This is the focus of every Christmas liturgy we celebrate during this holy season.
I wish all of you a joyous celebration with your family and friends on Christmas Day and throughout this special time of the year. I offer a very sincere word of thanks to all parishioners and friends who have been able to keep supporting our parish SO GENEROUSLY during the pandemic. We, in turn, have been able to continue paying all our employees and meet all our financial responsibilities because of your kindness to us. Thank you so much for being so faithful to St. Catharine Parish!
I sincerely hope and pray that everyone will return to the parish for the weekend liturgies on a regular basis as the pandemic fades and when, we hope, it disappears for good.
Parishioners, visitors and guests, remember that you are always welcome to worship with us in Westwood. I am praying for a full resumption of weekend and week day liturgies as soon as possible so that we can continue celebrating the mystery of the Word Made Flesh throughout the New Year of Grace 2020-2021.
On behalf of the parish staff, Mr. Metz and the school staff and myself, Merry Christmas from Saint Catharine of Siena Church!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Anthony M. Dattilo
As we celebrate Sunday Mass we still need to avoid possible contagion as much as possible. Although the following list of dos and don’ts is familiar to most of us, it still needs to be repeated:
1) Remember that you have been dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. That dispensation will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Those who have fragile health conditions should not come to church. Those who attend on a weekday do not need to return on the weekend.
2) We continue our special Mass schedule next week and until further notice:
Tuesday & Thursday at 10:00 AM; Saturday at 4:00 PM; Sunday at 10:00 AM.
Confessions: Saturday 3:00 – 3:30 PM.
This schedule was chosen to give our maintenance crew ample time to clean and disinfect the church after each service.
3) Each pew will be marked with blue tape (down the pew backside) for the seating of three adults. Sit with your back against the tape to maintain a social distance of 6 feet on each side. However, family members (and close friends) may sit together taking up the entire space between two blue tape lines. That will leave room for a single individual at one end of the pew. Pews that are roped off must remain empty. We strongly encourage wearing face masks throughout Mass, lowering them to receive communion. Hymnals have been removed from the pews; familiar music will be used keeping responses to a minimum.
4) Recognize others with a smile or nod of the head at the Sign of Peace instead of physical contact. Keep a good distance from the person ahead of you in the Communion line. Communion reception on the tongue is strongly discouraged. Reception of Communion from the Chalice is suspended indefinitely.
We will re-evaluate our Mass schedule and guidelines every week. Thank you for your patience, cooperation and especially your continued generosity to the parish. Spend some time today giving thanks for the gift of the Spirit who is with us in all our challenges. And, thanks again for caring so faithfully for St. C’s. Come, Holy Spirit! Fill our hearts with your love every day!
Fr. Tony Dattilo
Guidelines for the Resumption of Public Worship
If you are present in Church for a weekday, weekend Mass or Funeral Mass, Remember…
Catholics who reside in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and all other Catholics in the archdiocese continue to be dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass. Those who are at risk or fearful that they or their family might become sick are encouraged to stay home.
- The gifts of bread and wine must come from the servers’ table near the altar and NOT from an open public place.
- Maintain a respectful “social distance” of six feet from other people
- There should be no hand holding during the Our Father and no physical contact during the Sign of Peace. Recognize others with a smile, a nod of the head, a wave of the hand…
- Reception of Communion on the tongue is strongly discouraged.
- Reception of Communion from the Chalice is suspended indefinitely.
- Holy Water fonts will be intentionally be left dry.
- Anyone who feels sick or has symptoms of any kind should NOT be present.
- Hymnals and other materials should be removed from the pews. Disposable worship aids are OK.
- As of Wednesday July 8, 2020, in Hamilton County face masks are mandated by the State of Ohio to be worn inside at any indoor location that is not a residence.
- Consideration should be given to reducing the role of choirs and ensembles in light of social distancing regulations.
- Mass and homilies should not be unnecessarily long.
- The pastor can arrange for the baptism of infants, teens and adult converts at Mass or outside Mass; First Communion celebrations may take place in an appropriate way.
- Seating in church may be regulated by color coding of pews and alternation for different Masses.
- Greet people before/after Mass only by maintaining social distancing.
I PRAY WE DON’T GO BACK TO NORMAL
I pray that the next time a friend grabs me and pulls me in for a hug,
I actually take the time to appreciate
the gift of their embrace.
I pray that when school resumes and people are dropping kids off,
they take the time to thank the staff for the amazing gift
that they give to our community.
I pray that the next time I’m sitting in a crowded restaurant
I take the time to look around at the smiling faces, loud voices
and thank God for the gift of community.
I pray that the next time I’m standing in church
listening to the voices of praise and worship
that I take a moment to thank God
for the gift of congregation.
I pray that the next time I see a person or situation that needs prayer,
I hope I pray as passionately and fervently
as I have these past few weeks.
I pray that when I am at the grocery store that I take a moment to thank God
that He provides us with the necessities of life and the amazing people
who work so hard to keep us supplied.
I pray that I never again take for granted the ability to hop in the car
and visit a friend, go to the mall, go to a gathering…
So, truth is, I don’t want things to return to the way they once were.
I pray that we take the lessons and challenges of the past few weeks
and create a new normal.
My goal is to truly appreciate the daily abundance of blessings
that were so easily overlooked just a mere few weeks ago.
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Prayer for a Pandemic
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
UPDATES AS OF SATURDAY, 7.11.2020: Masks are now mandated in Hamilton County by the state of Ohio to be worn in any indoor location that is not a residence. Mass times at St. Catharine Church continue to be Tuesday & Thursday at 10:00 AM; Saturday at 4:00 PM; Sunday at 10:00 AM. Confessions are again being held from 3:00 – 3:30 PM on Saturdays.
UPDATES AS OF WEDNESDAY, 4.1.2020:
Please visit CATHOLICCINCINNATI.ORG and click on the “Live Streaming” link to access information about the live-streaming Holy Week and Easter Liturgies schedule.
UPDATES AS OF MONDAY, 3.23.2020:
BASED UPON THE DIRECTIVE ISSUED BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF OHIO ON MARCH 22, 2020 THE RECTORY OFFICES WILL MAINTAIN SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED OFFICE HOURS. SHOULD YOU NEED TO VISIT THE RECTORY FOR ANY REASON PLEASE CALL AHEAD FIRST 661 – 0651 TO MAKE SURE SOMEONE IS AVAILABLE.
PLEASE VISIT THE ARCHDIOCESE WEBSITE AT CATHOLICCINCINNATI.ORG AND CHOOSE THE COVID19-RESPONSE LINK FOR INFORMATION ON TELEVISED AND STREAMING MASSES AND RESOURCES FOR PARISHIONERS WORSHIPING AT HOME.