Dear Parish Family…
It feels like these times are the most exciting we have experienced in a long, long time. We are really beginning to turn a corner in the pandemic. And although we have no way to know what the future will hold, the fact that we are 15 months into this and are seeing widespread vaccinations and a steady decline in the disease is wonderful news. So wonderful, in fact, that beginning next weekend (June 5/6) everyone is welcomed, encouraged – and requested by Bishop Ed – to return to the practice of weekly Mass attendance. That means we will abandon the use of the alphabet as a way to determine Mass attendance and we will increase the capacity of the church for every Mass.
If that makes you nervous because you are not vaccinated, or because you have fragile health, or because the thought of such a rapid return to being in a large assembly of people gives you anxiety, there are a couple of things you should know. The Bishop has given his blessing for you to watch Mass from home if any of those factors are true in your life. He also recognizes that the livestream is a beautiful way for people who can’t come to church in person for medical or other reasons to be a part of our virtual assembly. But he is asking us to consider how important it is to return to our practice of receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood each week in the Eucharist. The fact that we have been able to return in this way is a reason to thank God.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should return each week, I have good news. There will continue to be a section of pews reserved for maintaining social distance and we will encourage everyone, as a sign of our oneness and care for the vulnerable, to wear a mask in solidarity with all.
Our plan is to return in the fall to our regular Mass schedule that we had from 2015-2020 and, in the meantime, to monitor the attendance as people adjust to these changes and add Masses this summer as we need them. There will continue to be an overflow area at both parishes in case we have more attendance than we can accommodate in the church at a given Mass. And we will gradually be returning to the lay ministry roles that were a part of our liturgies before we shut down in March last year.
We will be giving you more details on these changes as we return together. There’s no manual for us to turn to that tells us how to do this, so we ask for your patience and grace as we make our way forward together. Thank you for being so faithful to your parish during this historic and indescribable challenge for us all.
In other good news, next week we welcome a new face among us – one whose journey will become woven into our shared journey. Seminarian Adam Feisthamel, who just completed his first year of four years of theology study at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, MD, will be with us for 10 weeks this summer beginning next weekend.
Adam grew up in Colonie and graduated from South Colonie Central High School in 2006, where he competed in shot-put and discus on the Track & Field Team and also played as a lineman for the South Colonie High School football team. After that he attended HVCC in Troy and then got a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science from SUNY Albany.
After working for a few years, Adam experienced a miracle. In 2014, his mother was terminally ill in the hospital and Adam and his family went to Auriesville, to the site of the shrine that is built on the site where St. Isaac Jogues and his companions were martyred and near the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, to pray for her. Incredibly, through St. Kateri’s intercession, Adam’s mother was cured.
Understandably, after that Adam became deeply interested in his faith and established a devoted prayer life. After a few years of contemplating how God wanted him to spend his life, Adam chose to enter Seminary and pursue the path to the priesthood. Seven years after his mom’s miraculous healing, Adam has completed two years of Philosophy studies and is a quarter of the way through his 4-year theology degree. This means that, God willing, Adam will be ordained a (transitional) deacon in two years and will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Albany in 2024!
I’m excited to get to know Adam and together immerse him in parish life here in Ravena and Coxsackie. I’m convinced that his experience among us will contribute to making him a vibrant, faithful, effective priest and pastor one day.
It’s never a bad time to be grateful, but the combination of long, sunny days, a return to weekly gatherings at Mass and Adam’s arrival among us coincide to make this a particularly good time to thank and praise God. I look forward to seeing you soon!
Happy Memorial Day,