August 23, 2021
All of us are concerned about the situation of Covid in the Midland community. I want to assure our parishioners that we at St. Ann’s Parish are carefully monitoring the situation from every angle and adapting as needed.
It may be helpful for you to know that since Mother’s Day weekend of 2021, the Saturday evening 5:00pm Mass at St. Ann’s has required everyone to wear a mask and to practice social distancing of six feet between households. This past Saturday, only 123 people attended this Mass, so there is plenty of room for your family to attend, if you wish.
At all our other Masses, we encourage people to wear masks, we provide masks if they don’t have them, and we encourage social distance of three feet between households; but masks are not required. During our four Sunday Masses this past weekend, we had 1000 people attending Mass under these conditions. The Mass with the fewest people was Sunday at 5:00pm (only 150), so there was plenty of room for people to spread out.
Obviously, with 1100 people coming to Mass each weekend, there is hunger for worshipping together, so we don’t want to cancel Masses. As Catholics we believe in the centrality of the Eucharist. So we try to design the liturgy with many safety features in mind. We do offer one English and one Spanish Mass each weekend online. We constantly encourage people to get their vaccinations.
Secondly, according to the diocesan protocols, while the general dispensation from attending Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation expired on the weekend of May 23, 2021, Catholics in the Diocese of San Angelo are dispensed from the obligation if they are over 65, are caring for the sick, are sick (including those who have tested positive for the coronavirus and those who have had close contact with someone who as tested positive for the coronavirus, regardless of how well they feel), have underlying health conditions, or are truly and sincerely fearful that they may contract the coronavirus (A true and sincere fear is one that has prevented a person from attending non-required activities, such as eating at a restaurant, gatherings with family and friends, attending a movie theater, etc.).
As for special programs, meetings and such, we encourage masks and social distancing. There are usually very few people at these programs and meetings. Some are offered on zoom.
We are currently discussing postponing in person religious education (PSR) until a later date; the program for this Fall has not has not started yet. We are monitoring the Covid situation constantly. We offer the religious education program for elementary level students on-line and with at-home materials; just contact Kristin Atkinson to register the children. We will probably offer in person classes eventually, because many children get no religious education if they don’t come to any class.
St. Ann’s School has its own very strict protocols for classroom and other activities.
I hope some of the things I have mentioned are helpful. Please feel free to contact me or others in the parish administration with your questions are concerns.
May God heal the sick, give strength to our health care workers and delivers us from the pandemic.
Msgr. Larry J. Droll