...If I send a plague among My people, 14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 15Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.…. 2 Chronicles 7:13b-15
Beloved parish family and friends of St. Anthony,
It has been quite a while since we have been able to see each other. I know this time of social distancing and shutdown has been a challenging and trying time. Thank God in this time, we did not have anyone of our parish family affected or lost from the virus, Thank God! Some of us have been struggling greatly during this time.
The Church is The place of hope, help, and prayer, and my desire is that you know that and feel that St. Anthony of Padua, Maronite Church, -your home, is here standing strong as a beacon of love and support.
There is always light following the darkness and I feel that we are beginning to see the light on the horizon. I want to share with you some good news and some “light.” Based on the civil authority, Bishop Zaidan directives, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio, and after the consultation with our Subdeacons and Parish council, we are happy to announce The Reopening of the Holy Doors of the Church and the Resumption of Public Worship.
We are happy to announce the following steps of the gradual resumption of public worship of the Divine Liturgies in the month of May, with the “soft opening” of our Parish of St. Anthony of Padua.
Y The First stage in opening was announced on Mothers’ day and started on Monday May 11, 2020.
The process is to welcome ONE family per service, during the remainder of the Month of May. The family/ household whose members are already living together, must REGISTER to attend. Registration for is available on https://www.staparish.org/registration-for-liturgy Or by calling Fr. George, 513-917-3333.
Y The Second step of opening the church: God willing, we are set to reopen for all, with respect to social distancing and sanitization on Sunday May 31 st , the solemnity of Pentecost, “ Where the Apostles were gathered in fear in the upper room ” (Acts 2).
During the month of June, the Sunday 10:30 am ONLY is open for the public. The Week day services, Saturday 4:00 pm, and Sunday 6:00 pm (Arabic) are by registration ONLY. In order to give the option for anyone who is not comfortable attending the Sunday celebration, will be able to attend privately during the week.
We will continue live streaming our Liturgies online; this will be a permanent fixture for our church.
I highly and strongly recommend that all of our parishioners, over the age of 65 and who are immuno-compromised, stay home and stay safe. You are not required to begin attending the Divine Liturgy.
Also, if you are sick, feeling like you’re getting sick, or suspect you are sick…. please, stay home.
With all of this exciting news, we must be cautious and careful in order to protect ourselves and each other. Below I have included a list of procedures that we will follow here at St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Catholic Church -Cincinnati, as we open. I ask that we all respect these directives and those in the parish who will be helping to implement these directives going forward for everyone’s safety.
· The Church:
- The Church will be professionally sanitized every Saturday afternoon, in order to be clean for the Sunday service. There will be ONE public service on Sunday at 10:30 am. Weekday services are by registration.
- All doors will be kept open in order to minimize the need to touch door handles.
- Hand sanitizer will be available and accessible for all.
- Every other pew will be roped off in a way to allow for social distancing. Some pews are designed for families/household ( persons already living together ) with a white sign that reads FAMILY.
Other pews are marked with a blue sign that reads INDIVIDUAL, they are designed for individuals who are not attending with their families, where a white marker on the back of the pew will show the 6 ft S.D. (Social distancing) and it designates on the pew where to sit.
- Masks are required and must be worn in the Church and during Liturgy, this includes children.
Bring your mask, please. There will be masks available in church as well.
- Subdeacons will be proclaiming the Holy Scriptures.
- There will be no books in the pews.
- The collection will be taken up regularly by the ushers with the baskets.
The option of online donation is always available on our website: www.staparish.org
· The Sign of peace:
- The sign of peace will be given without contact ( put your hand over your heart, and pray for the person sitting next to you ). Members of the same household may share the sign of peace together.
- Masks should be removed to receive Communion which will be given in the hand. The Eucharist may not be touched with gloves. The option of crossing the arms over the chest and bowing the head, in order to have the minister bestow the blessing with the Body and Blood of Christ over the head is welcomed.
The faithful who wants to receive the Eucharist by intinction on the tongue: please remain until the end of the communion procession, where the minister will give you the Body and Blood of the Lord on the tongue and he will sanitize his hands after every person. Please open your mouth widely .
- The ministers will wear masks when distributing Communion.
- Tape or markers, safe for the carpet, will be put on the floor to mark the 6 ft distance between parishioners, especially when coming up to receive Holy Communion.
Please march to communion one row after the other, and form ONE line.
When Liturgy is completed, I will ask our Subdeacons and ushers, to dismiss us row by row, in order to keep social distancing guidelines, please be patient during this process.
After the Divine Liturgy:
- There will be NO coffee, bananas or donuts until it is deemed safe to gather as a group again. The gathering is not encouraged to take place in the hall. We can gather in the parking lot, and respect social distancing, especially now that the weather is beautiful.
This also includes parish events and activities. We are looking into different activities we can enjoy together and keep social distancing procedures. (We have a big parking lot). Any suggestions?
The Church will have seating for about 50% capacity. If we need to re-assess this number and change this, we will. Please keep in mind the option of the daily liturgy for families by registration is available during the months of May and June.
Please try your best to respect the guidelines, as this is new for all of us and we want to open both safely and respectfully, please communicate your uplifting thoughts to Fr. George or Subdeacons Don and Tom. This will not be a very convenient experience and these guidelines and regulations will test our love for one another. At the same time, these are little things we can do to make a big impact in keeping each other safe.
We are doing all of this to protect the integrity of our parish, coming together as one family in the Divine Liturgy, and of course, the safety of our parishioners. We are in this together , and through our faith and common sense, we will make it through this difficult time. By the way, a surprise is waiting for you, when we are back!
At this time, we are being called to be people of prayer, uniting ourselves with our brothers and sisters around us, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. We must act in such a way where we fear for each other but we don’t fear from each other الخوف عل بعضنا البعض وليس الخوف من بعضنا البعض .
We ask for God’s grace, through the intercession of St. Anthony and St. Aquilina, to keep us healthy, strong, kind, and patient. With the Blessed Virgin Mary interceding on our behalf we will get through these challenging times and draw nearer to her Son, the Good Shepherd.
Fr. George Hajj, Pastor
Thursday of the Ascension
May, 21, 2020
(ONLINE STREAMING ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE) .
AND on Our website: https://www.staparish.org/live-stream
Daily Liturgy at 6:00 pm
Saturday at 4:00 pm
Sunday 10:30 & 6:00 pm (Arabic)
Please contact Fr. George, 513-917-3333, to schedule confession, outside of Liturgy communion and for individual prayer in the chapel, or for any other spiritual need).
Please pray wholeheartedly for the victims, healthcare and first responders, and
scientists who are researching for the cure.
-OUR LESSON: REPENT & DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED.