From the Pastor (May 28, 2020)

Dear Parishioners,

Just over a week ago, Bishop DiMarzio announced the reopening of Catholic Churches in Brooklyn and Queens according to four distinct phases or steps:

  1. Opening of churches for private prayer and devotion. Restricted funerals, baptisms, weddings, and confessions according to specific norms.
  2. Limited celebration of weekday Mass.
  3. Limited celebration of Sunday Mass.
  4. Celebration of First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

We are now in the first phase, which began last Tuesday. The dates of the subsequent stages are not yet determined, and will depend on how  the previous stages play out.

St. Raphael’s opened for the first phase this week. Parishioners showed up daily for personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Our first funeral in church will take place this coming Friday. The specifics of our procedure are elsewhere in this bulletin, both in English and in Spanish. Please read them if you are planning to “make a visit”.

The full diocesan plan for the reopening of our churches is on our parish website, and more information will  be found in The Tablet, available in hard copy and online.

We have announced in this bulletin that we are updating our parish email file, and again request that you let us know (either for the first time or again) your current email (either in writing or by email or by phoning the parish office).  Earlier this week, we were able to send a heads-up email on the reopening to those who have submitted this information, and we hope to continue to use this platform for future communication with parishioners.

Happy feast of the Holy Spirit! As Pope Francis has said, “Without the Spirit, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together”.

-Father Jerry Jecewiz

 

From the Pastor (May 24, 2020)

Dear Parishioners,

We have started to hear a good deal about plans to reopen churches and restart public Masses. Although the pandemic is worldwide, it has affected different areas of the planet in different ways. Its impact is not even uniform across our country, or our state, or our city.

For this reason, the reopening protocols will vary from place to place, according to the directives of the local bishop. Since New York is an epicenter of the virus and since some religious groups have stealthily breached the prohibitions already in place, the New York reopening is still evolving in discussions and will certainly take place in stages.

The input needed for the reopening is not only medical (“safe practices”), but also theological (to maintain the integrity of the sacraments). It comes, not only from the CDC and the Catholic Medical Association, but also from a theological institute and a federation of liturgical commissions.

Some proposals for the first stage are common-sense and will surprise few: social distancing in church; limiting church capacity (an issue for our Spanish and Korean Masses); parishioners entering church with masks on; environmental cleaning, no congregational Holy Communion from the chalice; no congregational touching (Sign of Peace or, for our Korean parishioners, no joining hands with others during the Lord’s Prayer).

Other proposals discussed are sensible, but not obvious to all: avoidance of choirs and much singing; removal of hymnals and missalettes in the first stage; no large gatherings before or after Mass; orchestrated dismissal.

Some issues are contentious: the priest wearing a mask/gloves during Mass or at least in distributing Communion; Communion distributed during Mass or at the end of Mass as people leave the site.

Some proposals strike me personally as questionable: drive-in Mass/drive-up Holy Communion in the parking lot; live-stream, online Mass only, with parishioners told to stop by the doors of the church at a fixed time later that day to “get” Holy Communion; (online) ticketing to go to a particular Mass.

In any case, communication is key and every parishioner needs to be instructed when the details are finalized. In current bulletins, we have asked you to help us update our email list in order to facilitate this communication in a timely way. Please send your email in (again or for the first time).

One final odd proposal: only allow young priests and young Communion ministers to distribute Communion. As someone turning 70 next month…ouch!

-Father Jerry Jecewiz

From the Pastor (May 17, 2020)

Dear Parishioners,

This week marks a poignant, dispiriting moment for those young St. Raphael parishioners who were preparing to celebrate their Sacrament of Confirmation (in a joint ceremony with Queen of Angels Church) this past Thursday, or to celebrate their First Holy Communion here this very weekend. In several cases, family plans were formulated long in advance, with celebration sites booked and relatives planning to travel some distance to witness the event.

We are still waiting to see how these situations will be resolved as the pandemic evolves, but we all feel so bad for these candidates having their life-milestone put on hold.

As with public and Catholic schools, there will be no return to parish Faith Formation / Religious Education / CCD classes until after the summer. We are grateful to our catechists for keeping in active touch with their students each week.

At this point in the month of May, we broach the season of Quinceañeras / Sweet 16’s, along with special Ethnic Liturgies and a couple of weddings. Most of those involved knew they need to
reschedule, until churches re-open their doors. We wish we had more specific information to share regarding this, but we do not at this point. The latest directive from above (5/13/20) remains: no
public Masses until further notice…churches will remain closed.

We remind you once more that we live-stream the Mass bilingually each Sunday at 11 am. See the info at the top of this page and join us for online worship.

We also remind you that our online giving platform has been set up and is already in use.

Visit our parish website (https://straphael-queens.org) and click on WAYS TO GIVE or the word DONATE to learn how to use this tool. You can also text SUNDAY 646-692-0050 to donate. Our church and all other churches are weakened financially by the pandemic. Heartfelt thanks also to those who send a contribution in the mail or drop it through the rectory door slot.

Our Food Pantry ministry has increased enormously in recent times. A week ago Saturday, a man phoned the office in the late morning (more than two hours before the opening time) and said,“The line is already five blocks long. If I join it, what are the odds I’ll get food?”. He was, of course, taken care of, thanks to our indefatigable volunteers.

By the way, the Pantry thanks its latest individual donors, as well as Boy Scout Troop 390 at St. Teresa’s (donation totaling $826.18), NY Presbyterian “Stronger Together” for the Breakfast Bags, and Sterling Affair. Much obliged on all counts!

-Father Jerry Jecewiz

From the Pastor (April 26, 2020)

Dear Parishioners,

We began live-streaming a bilingual (English/Spanish) Mass from St. Raphael Church last Sunday, and will continue to do so on Sundays at 11 am.

Last week, we gave you the accounts by which you could tune in. Now it’s simpler. The media department of our Diocese has linked the Mass to our parish website, which is straphael-queens.org. Once you open that, at the top of the page, you see the words WATCH MASS LIVE. Click on the word “Facebook”, and you will be taken directly there. Scroll down to the Mass which should, at 11 am Sundays, have the word
LIVE on the screen.

You do not have to have a Facebook account to do this.

Thanks to the Perez Family (Rosalba and Felix, and their daughters Karla and Jazmín) for their help in producing this. By the way, we extend parish condolences to them–Rosalba’s brother Oscar died of coronavirus complications this past week, after a after a significant hospital stay on a ventilator.

Our debut Mass had some glitches, including people calling in as the Mass started, plus sound issues. We ask your patience as we work this out.

Right now, please spread the word about the live-streamed Mass, so more parishioners can get back to some semblance of Sunday worship. Thanks.

As we soldier on in the pandemic, here is an appropriate and sobering invocation, composed by a Seattle woman who self-identifies as a “writer of prayers”. She has urged people to share these words :

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 who have no safe 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.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
During this time when we can not physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find
ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Amen.

-Father Jerry Jecewiz

Elizabeth Buckley: In Anticipation of The Eucharist

One of my earliest memories is watching Mass on TV with my Nonna. I would patiently await the time during the Mass when she would walk over to her china closet and tear off a piece of an Oplatki Christmas Wafer she kept inside.

I’d soon learn that “time” during the Mass for a special treat was Communion. I yearned for it at a young age. I wanted to experience what everyone else was experiencing.

Read the complete article on The Tablet