Dear Parish Family,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ our Savior.  I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are safe and well during these uncertain times.  As we were suspecting the cases of COVID-19 have soared in the last week in our country, our state, and in our county. The projections are very alarming and concerning.

We had in-person worship services for the last two Sundays but this recent spike, especially in our county, warrants that we close once more our church for in-person services.

I want to acknowledge that this pandemic is not only a threat to our physical and financial health but it also affects our mental and spiritual health. Our State has several mental health tips and resources that are helpful. I want to encourage to follow the guidelines of our community leaders, in particular about reconsidering holiday celebrations with friends and families.

During these few weeks we were open I was aware of how much the isolation is affecting our emotional and spiritual well-being. So many of you said you were in tears to be able to walk back into church or even those who decided to not come but felt encouraged at seeing other parishioners in church through our virtual services. I know this decision will be a disappointment for many, but caring for each other the vestry officers, Hugh and I think this is the best action to take at this moment.

I would like to encourage all to check-in with your neighbors, friends, family, and fellow parishioners. Please, do not hesitate to ask for help, reach out to Hugh or me, we are here to listen and assist you in these difficult times.

Rest assure, we will continue to live-stream both the 8am and the 10am services. After they are live-streamed the will remain in our Youtube page for anyone to watch it at another time.

Hugh and I also will be recording the service of Compline or Night Prayer that might be a comforting spiritual practice to participate just before going to sleep.

I invite you to participate in our Sunday Zoom Coffee Hour at 11:30am (we moved the time half an hour latter), our Thursday Noon Prayer and Group Lectio Divina, our Thursday Spiritual Formation Group, and our Friday Centering Prayer gathering.

I also encourage all of us to intensify our spiritual practices — not only to help us cope with these stressful times, but to deepen and grow in our faith through our present challenges. God is ever at work, sanctifying every moment into an invitation to live beyond ourselves for the sake of the Gospel. Here are some practices that might help you in this work: The Daily Office: through Mission St. Clare or the VeniteApp Centering Prayer Lectio Divina Welcoming Prayer The Active Prayer Practice Virtual Labyrinth Walks in our own labyrinth, participate in a Zoom Finger Labyrinth Walk, or an Online Virtual Labyrinth.
Let us pray,
Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus: Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

In Jesus’ love,

Fr. Berto Gándara