May 1, 2020
Dear Parishioners of St. Gabriel & St. Bridget,
I pray that this letter finds you all well and healthy. Perhaps you saw the Indiana Governor’s announcement today concerning his five-stage plan of reopening our state. In that plan, Gov. Holcomb stated that churches would be permitted to open on May 8, 2020 with certain restrictions. As Catholics, however, we must wait for further instruction from Archbishop Thompson. For now, our churches remain closed.
Like all of us, the Archbishop wants to reopen our churches as soon as possible. However, as the shepherd of over 220,000 Catholics and the overseer of over 120 church buildings, he must exercise great caution and prudence. In other words, as anxious as we all are to get back in our churches and worship together as we once did, we cannot allow that desire to overshadow the need to take necessary precautions and protect vulnerable people.
Below is the letter that the Archbishop published today on the Archindy website. Please take a moment to review it. As ever, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email myself or any of our parishes’ staff. However, we do not know any more than what the Archbishop provides below.
Most assuredly, our parishes’ staff is doing its best to anticipate what sort of opening our parishes might experience (whether it’s phased, what sort of phasing, etc). We are looking to what other parishes and dioceses throughout the United States are doing. Needless to say, there are lots of varied models and phasing taking place. We certainly anticipate further instruction from the Archdiocese that will clarify how exactly our parishes can begin reopening. I invite us all to exercise great patience as we prayerfully await returning to church.
As ever, know of my prayers and may our risen Lord continue to bestow His blessed life upon our parishes and communities.
Fr. Dustin Boehm
1 May 2020
Solemnity of St. Joseph the Worker
Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ:
Easter greetings in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ! Despite the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and staying in place, we continue to celebrate the Easter Season that culminates in the Solemnity of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. For many, the peace and joy of this great season has been put to the test. Practically everyone is anxious to get back to some sense of “normalcy,” whenever that may be possible.
While I do not have many answers at this point, please be assured that I am engaged in ongoing conversations with the Indiana bishops, Council of Priests, College of Deans, Indiana Catholic Conference leaders, Archdiocesan Leadership Team and others on determining how best to move forward in the reopening of churches, celebration of sacraments and resuming public Masses. While care of souls is always the pivotal focus, we must also act in a manner that is both safe and responsible. We do not want to be reckless about endangering lives, especially the elderly and vulnerable, nor do we want to have to start all over in the fight against the virus. I am grateful for the many people, both clergy and laity, who are assisting in the discernment process rooted in prayer throughout this ordeal and looking toward the future.
Although we do not yet know the exact protocols for moving forward, as much of this depends upon the handling of the pandemic, it is important that we maintain a clear understanding of our identity as Catholics. Some have complained about churches remaining closed while various stores or businesses remain open. The Church is not about a few individuals wandering around in the aisles of a building but the gathering as community of believers in prayer, worship, catechesis and service. Christ-centered moral responsibility and the understanding of the Church as community, the Body of Christ, are key components that drive our discernment process and decision-making.
Most, if not all, of us are growing a bit impatient. Let us not let fear or frustration get the best of us. Through the inspiration and intercession of St. Joseph, may we continue to remain open in mind and heart to the voice and will of God amid this time of chaos and hardship. I am looking so forward to the opportunity to gather again with the entire People of God—clergy, religious and laity—in our churches throughout central and southern Indiana. That time cannot come fast enough for my liking, but it will come. All in God’s time. In the meantime, I ask for your continued prayers and understanding.
With assurance of my prayers and best wishes, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Charles C. Thompson
Archbishop of Indianapolis