Dear Parish Family,
We are all connected. John tells us in the Gospel that through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we are not orphaned. We are connected with our fellow believers and with God. Before that, we hear that Philip, whose commissioning was proclaimed last Sunday, decides to go to Samaria, of all places. Recall that Jesus purposely chose a Samaritan to illustrate what it means to be a neighbor, caring for the injured man who had been ignored by his own people. The Samaritans welcome Philip and accept God’s word. As a sign of unity within the early church, Peter and John, two of the Twelve travel to Samaria to call down the Holy Spirit on all those who had been baptized into the faith. The Samaritans, once regarded as outcasts, are now connected to the disciples and apostles, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
What is the glue that holds all of them and us together? It is love. It is love that leads one to want to keep Jesus’ commandments, love that binds each person of the Trinity, love that reveals the presence of Jesus to others. Indeed, in this love we “sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts.” How does our connectedness to our neighbor affect the way we treat others?
May 21st is the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. It is a Holy Day of obligation. Masses will be on line 4pm on Wednesday afternoon from St. Maria Goretti and Thursday at 10am from Queen of the Apostles, Avoca. As Jesus bids farewell to his disciples he instructs them to “be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth.” Because the early church did so, the body of Christ grew and flourished despite the persecution it suffered for many years. How were they able to witness, even with the power of the Holy Spirit what Jesus promised? The last line of the Gospel reveals the answer: “I am with you always”. Jesus was not just with the disciples who knew him before his death and resurrection, he was with the early church, and he is still with us today. Hallelujah!!
Churches in the Yellow areas in PA will begin to open on Monday, May 18. Lycoming County is one of these in our diocese. We are still in the Red area. To begin returning to church for mass or any type of group of activity, we will need to limit group size to the directive of no more than 25 people until we reach Green. This is a fluid situation, being monitored closely by state officials. The Diocese of Scranton will abide by the requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and will update with each new notification according to Bishop Bambera. The safety of our members and our whole community, along with our opportunity to move through each phase to green, depends on our diligent efforts to arrange for 6 feet physical distancing, to provide adequate protective equipment (Masks, hand sanitizer, etc), to tend to sanitization procedures, to restrict people with symptoms, and to monitor when people have potentially been exposed to the virus.
Our parish staff are talking about plans for safety measures, distancing, protecting the vulnerable, handling known cases/exposure, contact tracing, etc. as we look forward to the Yellow Phase moving to full opening. We will continue to keep our Masses on line on our Facebook and website (https://queenoftheapostles.weconnect.com) pages til the crisis passes.
Please continue to remember to drop off or send in your weekly contributions to the parish office during this time of special need. The parish bulletins will be on line for any of you to view. We are all in this together. Leave no one behind. Care for your family and neighbors in need. Offer to go for groceries or to the pharmacy for those in need. Check on them. Let them know your love for them. It’s important. Thank you for all you are and all you do.
God bless you and perhaps I will see you in Church soon,
Happy Easter, Fr. Phi