Dear Friends in Christ:
PATIENCE…last weekend I preached about our need for more patience in life. It is the most common comment we, as priests, hear from our parishioners “Father, I need to work on patience…I need more patience with my husband/wife, my children…I need to work on being more patient when I am driving! My friends please know that we ALL need to work on being more patient in life and with others. We are ALL works in progress and that virtue is one of the most challenging of all.
One place I need more patience is when I am walking Fenway. It is not that I need more patience with my dog. It is with drivers! I have had many close calls from distracted drivers, teens on their phone while driving, and drivers not obeying state laws. Did you know that the crosswalk in front of the Town Library has a sign on each side of the road, as seen in my photo here, and it uses images to say, “State Law: Yield to Pedestrians within Crosswalk!” I can assure you that it is a rarity that anyone obeys that law. That drives me crazy! I have no patience for drivers who are not willing to give the right of way to pedestrians. At other intersections I observe the stop lights and crosswalk signals where they exists, but here it is presumed the pedestrian has the right of way. NOT SO!
This is where I NEED PATIENCE. Maybe those who are ignoring this State Law are rushing to the bedside of a sick or dying relative, maybe they are running late to work because a child needed extra mommy time this morning, or maybe they are dealing with so much that they are not paying attention to the task at hand. As one parishioner commented on my Facebook posts from #beyondthebulletin this past Monday, perhaps Jesus was putting these drivers in my path to help me take a deep breath or learn a lesson in growing in patience. Food for thought!
Many are growing impatient with this virus and all that it has done to our “normal” routines of life. These days have been challenging and difficult for all of us, and the world continues to be beset by the troubles of a pandemic, economic issues, and unrest. There is so much developing each day, new guidelines and protocols, and you literally could watch three different news channels in the evening and hear three different interpretations of what is going on!
On a side note, I had to laugh the other day when I was reading a bulletin article for another parish not far from here where the Pastor wrote “Masks, social distancing, washing our hands are all part of the new normal.” I have to admit I laughed hysterically. Wasn’t washing your hands part of everyday “normal” life before Covid 19?
In all of this, we pray for more patience! Patience in dealing with the uncertainties of the virus and its implications. Patience with our family members with whom we have been in close proximity like never before. Patience for our co-workers and friends who may share with us there anxieties and frustrations. Patience with ourselves as we learn new ways to move forward and come to terms with all that is on our plates these days. Patience. Saint Bridget of Sweden, Our Patroness, Pray for US!
This past week our maintenance staff and a volunteer from our Facilities and Grounds Committee enabled an idea to be brought to fruition. I have been concerned for quite some time now that we did not have adequate space for our parishioners who may be in wheelchairs for whatever reason.
If truth be told, this has been a concern of mine since I arrived but I had yet to come up with a solution. I feared the desire to make a more accommodating space may be difficult.
A few weeks ago it dawned on me that the solution may be to simply remove one pew from one of our sections to make one pew double its open area. It worked! I am so pleased that we have completed this and there will be proper space now for those who may be in wheelchairs and their companions. This is located in the front section of the pulpit side transept of the church, or the pulpit side chapel if you will.
St. Bridget School Return to In-Person Instruction Strategy for 2020-2021… much time has been invested the past couple of weeks from Dr. Testa, faculty members, school board members, and myself into establishing a plan that is inclusive of a Green Phase, Yellow Phase, and Red Phase. As you might be able to surmise, the Green Phase is a fully opened school with all protocols put in place for in -person learning, the Yellow Phase is a potential hybrid of some in-person learning and some virtual learning, and the Red Phase is a complete virtual learning environment.
On another side note, really just want to share a story that a parishioner with two young children shared with me. The mom and dad have been very concerned about the kids returning to school in September and having to wear masks throughout the day and it has really weighed heavy on them. Well the mom said the other day she took the two kids with her on some errands. When they jumped in the car, the two little ones immediately reached for their masks and put them on. She then explained they didn’t have to wear them in the car to which one of them replied “we know, but we like to wear them.” I know there is a lot of talk about the masks and making children wear them but I imagine the children will be more flexible with this matter than most of us adults.
Back to our school re-opening plans. Not knowing which Phase we will encounter on day one means planning for ALL THREE. We ALL want the children to return to in-person schooling but first, and foremost, of course is the care for the safety and well-being of our students and the faculty and staff. Of course, we are planning as best we can to be prepared for any of the phases at any given moment. But this requires additional COSTS.
We need to increase our bandwidth to enable better and faster internet for any remote learning that may occur. We also need to store equipment in a trailer such as extra furniture which can no longer be in the classrooms. We need to buy tables for the science lab rather than the pods since students need to be all facing one direction. We need to purchase additional sanitizing and disinfecting chemicals to ensure we have enough to perform the necessary cleanings each day, sometimes multiple times a day. We need to increase the amount of outside air that comes into our HVAC system which will mean an increase in our utility costs. We will need to purchase face shields and other PPE for our faculty and staff.
All of these items come with a cost that was NOT incorporated into our school budget which was submitted to Hartford pre-quarantine. IF YOU CAN HELP PLEASE DO SO. Any and all contributions can be made out to St. Bridget School for the Annual Fund which will be used to help offset some of these necessary but costly preparations. Thank you for all you do to help make our parish school a shining light in Cheshire and beyond. As always, remember to pray for vocations, pray for our young people, pray for our parish families and ask God’s blessings as we strive to build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.