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Letter from the pastor

Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time: 16 Nov.—22 Nov.

This Sunday is the Feast of CHRIST the KING, which marks the end of our liturgical Year. The following Sunday (29 November) is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year—Advent. This reflection will be on the current situation, rather than on scripture.

Newark’s test positivity rate for Covid-19 is at 19%, while the State of New Jersey is at 7.7%. Much too high! This has led to the mayoral mandate of a curfew at 8:00 p.m. and a reduction of participants to 25% capacity at religious services, and the wearing of masks by choir members, readers and participants. The zip code of St. Lucy—07104—is a hot spot named in the mayoral executive mandate.

The situation demands our attention and involves consequences. First of all, we must reduce the occupancy from 150 persons to 100. Second, the curfew at 8:00 p.m. affects the tradition of Midnight Mass. If the curfew is in force on 24 December, there will be no Midnight Mass. Instead, we will celebrate Mass at 5:00 p.m. with the procession of the infant Jesus to the presepio. I hope I have been clear.

The situation is such that I believe it is too risky for me to celebrate the festivities of thanksgiving and Christmas with my brothers and their families.

It is important to repeat that Cardinal Tobin dispenses the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days. Those who are at risk because of an underlying health issues or who are 60 years old or older are strongly encouraged to avoid attending public celebrations of Mass because it carries the risk of contagion. We will continue to live-stream the Sunday Mass in Spanish at 9:00 a.m. and in English at 11:00 a.m.

Please pre-register online or by phone if you intend to attend Sunday Mass in person. Registration enables us to maintain social distancing, and the occupancy of the church set at 100.

Thankfully there are two vaccines on the horizon, but the use of masks and social distancing will continue well into the New Year because it will take time to produce and distribute these vaccines.

Since the vaccines are on the way, there is hope. This, however, is not the time to relax the mandate of social distancing and the wearing of masks. Done together, this effort will achieve successfully the well being of all. May St. Gerard obtain the grace to persist in following the mandate of social distancing and wearing masks.

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