Covid-19 and the Parish: The Good and The Ugly

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 courses through the country and New Jersey, we are exceedingly grateful for parishioner response in continuing to respect the situation and each other by following our seating arrangements, care with Communion practice and overall good cheer during an extended time of difficulty.

We continue to carefully watch the variant spread, and what that may mean for us, in consultation with our COVID-19 emergency management consultant and further guidance from the State of New Jersey and/or the Diocese of Metuchen.

For those who have yet to get vaccinated, despite our encouraging efforts, we yet again appeal and encourage stragglers to get vaccinated, and now, in light of the Delta variant, we strongly encourage all churchgoers to wear masks again.  For those who opt to sit in the special social distance section of the church, this is not an option — masking is an obligatory consequence of your seating decision.  Also, generally for all churchgoers, avoid congregating indoors either before or after the Mass, and generally be mindful of the immediate transmission possibilities in your spatial awareness.

Enrolled in our parish Book of the Covid-19 Deceased in our narthex, we now have more than 90 names of loved ones — either parishioners or family or friends of parishioners — who have died due to the virus or its complications.We remember these deceased loved ones each First Friday at a special 7pm Mass in Time of Pandemic, (although in August that feast will move up a day to Thursday, August 5 due to the superseding Transfiguration Feast.)

Recently and lamentably, we have had a couple of interactions along the angry, arrogant lines that we’ve seen or heard about elsewhere in restaurants or airplanes or stores.  Belligerent churchgoers blatantly defying our very flexible seating guidelines by refusing to mask up in the special “mask and social distance” section, and then not to move when asked.  These attendees disrespect our clergy and ministers who have confronted them, and have offered pathetic and narcissistic replies to their transgressions: “I’ll do what I want in church…this is God’s house, I only answer to Him” and so on.

We are not going to engage in ridiculous debates about clear-cut rules.  If you are in the social distance section and do not want to wear a mask, here’s the deal: move to the open seating or leave.   And if you persist with resisting a simple rule, then maybe that’s indicative of the state of your inner life, so maybe don’t come back until you know what church is all about in the first place, Covid-19 or not.  Hint: it’s not all about you, pal.


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