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Our Covid 19 Journey Together

A National State of Emergency regarding Covid 19 was declared on March 13. Since that time members of our Communion, our friends and family have suffered the ravages of this scourge. Communities have scrambled to creatively respond to their own worship needs. Pastors and lay leaders have labored to hold their flocks together. Some have fallen sick. Some have died. Some communities have lost their worship space for various reasons, including economic ones. Our chaplains have been under significant strains. Many of us have become weary. Our hope has been tested by realistic projections of what life in our country is likely to be like for the foreseeable future. 
At the same time many of our communities have experienced a tighter bond, a new desire to reach out and to care for each other, new ways of sparking and sharing our faith while socially distanced. There is the sense that this is a big moment, which may have a profound impact on our history together. Let us continue to connect with each other and to reassure each other that we are not walking this strange journey by ourselves. We have each other, even if our interactions for now are in different ways. 
By the way, I want to make myself available to meet with groups of clergy and lay leaders and/or with individual communities who might find it valuable to have such a meeting during the months ahead. Please simply contact Erin Outson, our Administrator, to set that up for you,  opbadministrator@catholiccommunion.org
If you are beginning to think about the possibilities for your worshiping together as you did before the pandemic, I want you be aware of resources to help with your discerning and your planning. I became aware of the first resource (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html) through participation in a National Council of Churches Zoom meeting with Robert Redfield, M.D., head of the CDC. The second set of resources came from Father Mike Bober in Oshkosh, WI; the set was produced by the Wisconsin Council of Churches and is quite helpful it seems to me (WCC Guide to Returning to Church – Ministry During COVID19.pdf (601,519 KB) andWCC Clergy Presentations – Real Talk on the Pandemic and Church Planning.pdf (430)
For some of us, all these details, while extremely helpful, can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore I advise your parish council to consider selecting one detail-oriented and effective member to be the point person for your Covid 19 planning, if you have not already done so. That person could be the specialist who is very aware of the directives and suggestions in these resources and who could then develop a kind of checklist that you will need to ensure the safety of your communities. This specialist could also assist your parish council in determining the overall direction of your way forward and its timeline.  Remember: once your civil authorities say it is safe to „reopen,” then it is still your decision about whether to have in person gatherings at all during this period.  Please digest the guidance I am sending you and decide whether you want to meet in person with those restrictions. In the meantime, I will organize an information session where these specialists can meet with some of our Communion’s own medical professionals to discuss their questions and concerns. Stay tuned about the details of this gathering. We will send it to this same mailing list.
Of course on another level, some would say that this pandemic has been such a profound experience that we will never worship together quite as we did before. For that reason I look forward to long conversations with any interested parties about what we have learned as we have worshiped and experienced our common hope, faith, and love in new ways. 

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