Important message regarding COVID-19 and the suspension of Mass

Dear parishioners:

Per the direction of Archbishop Lucas from Monday evening, “all public Masses and communal celebration of the sacraments or other liturgies are indefinitely suspended in the Diocese of Lincoln.

As I write this, I am still trying to figure out what we can do to bring some normality to our practice of the faith. If anything, please keep yourself posted by using the parish’s Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/STMHastings/ and the parish website: http://www.stmichaelshastings.com/. We will try our best to keep things updated about what is happening at the parish despite the limitations placed upon us by COVID-19.

As I write this, these are some directives we currently have from the diocese:

1) A reminder that the Sunday Mass obligation is dispensed by Archbishop Lucas for all Catholics in the Diocese of Lincoln.

2) Churches and chapels may remain open for private prayer. Protocol for social distancing must be observed. [We plan to keep the church open from morning until late evening, as usual.]

3) Communal Penance services should be cancelled; however, priests are encouraged to make confessions available in outdoor or open-air spaces if the priest is not in a high-risk category. [I will offer Confessions in Theisen Hall at 7:05 a.m. every morning and I plan to offer Confessions on Saturday afternoon.]

4) No parish religious education programs are to assemble.

5) No parish public events or gatherings that exceed 10 persons.

6) Weddings should be restricted to 10 or less persons.

7) Funerals should be restricted to immediate family and friends, less than 10 attending.

There will be more announcements to come. Each week, we plan to produce a bulletin to keep parishioners informed. These will be available near the entrances as usual. Please pick one up each week and spend some time in prayer at church when you pick it up.

One of my first ways of responding to no public Mass is to have a sign-up sheet in the back of church to offer private weekday Masses in homes of parishioners, at least until the virus reaches Hastings – this would provide the opportunity to have Mass in our parish daily and give some an opportunity to attend each day. Please check the area near the baptismal font for this and for other announcements. I am working on other ways of making the Sacraments available and keeping people connected.

One creative way of making Sunday Mass available was a “Parking Lot Mass” that took place in another parish – see the pictures. If possible, I would like to try to do this. Maybe there are other ways we can keep some semblance of normal parish life but still remain obedient to the directives we have received. If you have some creative ideas, please let me know!

God bless,

Fr. Jeremy Hazuka