Back around Christmas, Bishop Fabbro announced that our Family of Parishes would be activated this year. We quickly commenced work with a Transition Team and a Support Team to address all the issues that need to be considered for this new reality. One of the things we pledged from the beginning was transparency. That didn’t happen, and I apologize. I assure you that it was not intentional. With the closure of our parish buildings and the end of public worship in mid-March, I just didn’t know how to effectively get the word out to everyone—and ended up not getting it out to anyone. For that, I take responsibility. This missive is an intent to rectify that situation.
First of all, I need to inform all of you about our activation date. Originally scheduled for July 6, the Diocese of London has now said that our Family will be activated sometime around September. We need the border to be open for travel so that we can invite some of the Scalabrini priests who have served at St. Angela to come for a going-away event. The Scalabrini Fathers have faithfully served the St. Angela community for 60 years this year, and it would not be right to have them leave without being able to thank them.
Before the Covid closures, the Transition Team submitted a name to our parishes for consultation. We received many responses; we read them all. Over 90% of you approved the name, which we submitted to the Bishop for approval. He made a slight modification, and I am pleased to announce to everyone that our Family will be known as the Windsor Heritage Catholic Family of Parishes. I remind you that every parish will maintain its own name. Some staff will be shared (such as clergy and administration), others (such as caretakers) will be particular to the parish. Expenses for shared staff will be divided between the three parishes based on their regular income. Most of this will be 44% for Assumption, 27% for St. Alphonsus, and 29% for St. Angela. We will review all this after our first year and see where revisions and adjustments need to be made, and whether our two communities, St. Benedict and St. Daniel Comboni, will start to share in these expenses. (The Transition Team, on the recommendation of the Finance Council chairs, decided that at present it was not necessary.)
We have considered the Mass schedules. As you may remember, we announced early on that each parish would lose some Masses, since it was impossible to maintain current schedules with the reduced clergy that we will have. This is the part that I was hesitant to announce without being able to have “town hall” meetings to receive reactions and input from our congregations. We are currently investigating the best way to seek your input. I know that this is an important consideration. We all know that Mass schedules must be reduced; the reality is that we all want “the other” Masses cut, but not the one we attend. That is human nature. The Transition Team considered many options and finally decided to propose a schedule where each of our three parishes would have three weekend Masses and a reduced weekday Mass schedule. We are also proposing an increase in availability of confession. This is the schedule we are proposing:
Weekend Masses, Sunday 9 AM, 11 AM, 7:30 PM
Confessions, Saturday 11 AM-12 noon, Sunday 6:30-7:15 PM
Weekday Masses, Monday through Thursday, 8 AM
Weekend Masses, Saturday 5 PM, Sunday 12 noon, 5:30 PM
Confessions, Saturday 3:45-4:45 PM, Wednesday 11:30-11:55 AM
Weekday Masses, Wednesday through Friday, 12 noon
St. Angela Merici:
Weekend Masses, Italian, Saturday 4:30 PM, Sunday 9:30 AM
Weekend Mass, English, Sunday 11:30 AM
Confessions, Saturday 3:30-4:15 PM, Wednesday 6:30-6:50 PM
Weekday Masses, English, Monday, Tuesday 7:00 PM
Weekday Masses, Italian, Wednesday, Thursday 7:00 PM
Our two communities will maintain their current schedules:
Weekend Mass, Sunday 2 PM
Confessions, before or after Mass as needed
Weekday Mass, Tuesday 7 PM
St. Daniel Comboni:
First Sunday of the month, 2 PM
Financially, the Novel Coronavirus has greatly impacted our parishes. Expenses continue, while income has been drastically reduced. I am deeply grateful to all of you who have contributed during this time without public worship. I am also grateful to the Canadian government for the wage subsidies for the parish employees, which has allowed us to keep many of them on payroll. All of our parishes are now accepting e-transfers and other means of electronic giving. Of course, nobody can know for sure the long-term impact of Covid. One thing we do know is that some things are forever changed.
Assumption has been live-streaming during this time, and announcing the Mass intentions from our three parishes. We will continue to stream, and gradually begin doing so from St. Alphonsus and then St. Angela. Our parish staffs want to do whatever is possible to ensure your safety. Please stay home if you are not well, or if you are at risk. Remember that Bishop Fabbro has dispensed you from the Sunday obligation at least until Advent. As much as your parish priests and the rest of the staff want to see you again, we want you to stay safe even more.
As we gradually return to public worship, even with masks, social distancing, no singing, and so many other changes, I assure you of my prayer. I pray that you continue to care for and protect your own health as well as that of others. As Windsor moves into Stage Two, it is easy to think that we can go back to “normal”; my prayer is that we all care for one another so that we can see one another again in good health. May our Lady of the Assumption, St. Alphonsus, St. Angela Merici, St. Benedict, and St. Daniel Comboni intercede for us and keep us safe.