In these times in which we live, when we have high expectations of ourselves or others, we can easily become frustrated when things don’t seem to go our way. One of the reasons we do is because we feel we don’t have control over certain matters or situations that “mess up” our plans. For instance, we see now what’s happening as a result of the disruptive Coronavirus, which causes us to reconsider or even cancel our plans for travel, celebrating happy occasions or carrying out our normal everyday routines. The closing of universities and colleges, the cancelling of various public events and the changing of scheduled venues makes us ponder how little real power we have to “play God” with our or others’ lives, or to deal effectively with our environment or the powerful forces of nature. Thinking about this reality can be a great source of reflection and meditation during this Lenten season.

In our own setting, I regret that we have to cancel the Lenten Fish Frys on Friday evenings that are sponsored by our Knights of Columbus with the help of our Lady Columbiettes. It’s not an easy decision to make, and is not made lightly – or even by me. It comes via a dictate from the Supreme Knight of our Knights of Columbus, who cautions us to take every reasonable precaution to avoid the possibility of spreading this worldwide virus that is pandemic. Even though we realize that worldwide many more people die annually from some form of the flu, we certainly shouldn’t panic or overreact out of fear and/or ignorance.

Likewise, the annual St. Patrick Day parades in Dublin, Boston and Delray Beach, among others that draw thousands each year to their festivities, have been cancelled, but other observances to take their place can be held in different settings under more reasonable circumstances.

People are asking me if we are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass on the weekend. Unless we hear otherwise from the Bishop’s Office, the answer is ‘no,’ provided that we’re not sick nor would we expose someone else to the same. But we have to be reasonable – again, without a sense of panic – and that’s why we’ve restricted the distribution of the Precious Blood from the cup until further notice. The sign of peace need not be a handshake. Fist or elbow bumps may seem ‘odd,’ or uncharacteristic, but the two-finger peace sign or a simple bow to those around us are also “signs” of peace. If you have access to the miniature Purell bottles or some other form of hand sanitizer, carry them and use them accordingly. Above all, use common sense in dealing with the virus possibilities as well as any other type of illness that may be contagious.

Some “happy” news is found in the recent issue of the Coastal Star, a local newspaper that has a feature story on our two Sisters Elizabeth! If you can get hold of a copy, enjoy a very delightful article about them. It’s well-written and gives us some insight as to why these two Sisters are such a big hit among the students, school parents and other members of our parish. They are a special blessing to all of us at SVF, and I hope they can stay for a long time.

This coming Friday, March 20th, our Bishop Barbarito is coming to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on several of our young people. This will take place at the 5:00 P.M. Mass. All of our parishioners are welcome to attend and meet our bishop afterwards, certainly with a real consideration of the matters above concerning unnecessary health risks.

Here is some more “good news” that Bishop Barbarito will return on Friday morning, May 8th, to bless the new addition to our school building! Now that we finally have all the necessary permits for permanent occupancy of the building it only makes sense to have him “officially” dedicate this beautiful symbol of the faith and generosity of a good number of our supporting parishioners and other friends who made this $7.5 million dream a reality. The morning event begins with the bishop celebrating the Friday Mass with our school children at 10 o’clock, and then we move to the school where he will perform the blessing. All of you are invited!

Finally, there is another e-mail scam that seems to be coming to select parishioners, using my name (Msgr. Tom) as the author of a request seeking gift cards. Some of the people who have received these requests are able to discern that these are bogus because of the sentence construction or the poor English grammar and punctuation (if they were in my high school English classes, I definitely would have failed them!!). Be assured that I would not make such personal appeals through text or e-mail messages. I would only do such in a live face-to-face conversation, or you would recognize my voice on the telephone. Please be aware of these fraudulent scams.