From Our Pastor:
March 19, 2020 – Solemnity of Saint Joseph
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
These past couple of weeks have been unique and trying for all of us. Accepting and adjusting to the things we cannot change, such an essential part of trusting in God’s sovereignty over and provision for our lives, is very much an ongoing process. It is human to experience this time of uncertainty with different waves of anxiety, disappointment, and frustration. It is important to grieve the temporary but real losses of events and moments we had looked forward to, relating this grief to those who love us, and ultimately to God who loves us unconditionally. This honest acknowledgment will help us to be disposed to the resiliency and creativity of the Holy Spirit to lead us forward in new ways.
More than ever, the reality of the “domestic church” will have to bear the weight of these days. It will be each household living the faith through daily prayer and acts of charity that will keep us in living communion with Jesus. In finding creative ways of reaching out to our neighbors to simply console and encourage, or to offer service as far as that is possible, we will stay together in hope and on the path of redemption. (Please find links below of resources that can help nourish your faith.)
I have been so very grateful for the excellent parish, school, and early childhood center staff we have here at Saint Ambrose, and how they have worked together in a unified way as things have unfolded so rapidly this week. There has been a tone of calm and hopefulness in our discernment of how to take one step at a time, stay together in our visions of serving you in ways that are possible, and to communicate most effectively to the broader Saint Ambrose community of faith. (Please find links below to various communications that have been sent out with respect to our various programs.)
While all parish events and in-person meetings are cancelled until further notice, as of now it is our intention to have the Church open and available as a house of prayer for individual prayer during office hours Monday through Friday (8:30 am – 5:00 pm). I would ask that you kindly respect what is being asked of all of us with respect to the practical aspects of staying home if you feel symptoms of any kind, being extra vigilant with personal hygiene, and social distancing. While all public celebrations of Mass are suspended here at Saint Ambrose per Archbishop Hebda’s announcement yesterday (please see below), we hope to offer the live streaming of the Sunday Mass at 8:30 am so that we are able to stay connected. With Fr. Froehle and my leadership team here at Saint Ambrose, we are thinking through possible ways of staying connected with all of our parishioners in solidarity in these unprecedented times.
Please know of my love and prayers for you. Please pray that God’s mercy might be made manifest in this trial, commending in a special way to the Virgin Mary’s care all who are suffering, all those most vulnerable, and our health care workers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Peter Williams
Letter From Archbishop Hebda - April 1, 2020
From Our Archbishop:
March 18, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
State Officials have communicated to religious leaders that the next two weeks are critical for the containment of the COVID-19/coronavirus and that all congregational gatherings should be avoided. While I am sure that the advice is startling for those of any creed, it particularly hits hard for Catholics, given our beliefs about the Mass and the Eucharist.
In light of that advice, after consulting with the Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors, and having learned that an active parish priest in another U.S. diocese has tested positive for the virus - unknowingly putting his parish at risk prior to the manifestation of any symptoms - I have made the difficult decision to suspend all regularly scheduled public celebrations of Mass in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul Minneapolis, effective
immediately. Given both the moral impossibility of attending Mass, as well as the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass that was extended to the faithful of the Archdiocese last week, please rest assured that the missing of Mass in these conditions should not weigh on your conscience.
Anticipating that the need might arise for a funeral or wedding Mass in this period, a limited exception has been granted for those liturgies, provided that any liturgical celebration would comply with the directives that will be issued in a memorandum to clergy of the Archdiocese.
It pains my heart to have to make this decision since I know how many of you deeply love the Mass as I do. This decision will be re-evaluated in two weeks’ time in light of any local developments and the latest advice of civil authorities and experts.
The priests of the Archdiocese will gratefully continue to offer Masses daily for the good of the faithful and for an end to this health crisis. While unable to attend in person, the faithful are encouraged to be spiritually united with the priest celebrants as they pray for the strengthening of this local Church. I am grateful that many parishes have already found ways to broadcast the Mass and other spiritual devotions online, over the radio, or on TV, allowing the faithful to be remotely present at Mass in these challenging times and to make a spiritual communion. Options for Mass and prayer resources may be found at archspm.org/covid19.
Moreover, in their inspiring desire to serve, the priests of the Archdiocese are committed during the next two weeks to continue exploring with the lay faithful possibilities for limited public celebrations of the Mass at the parish or at the Archdiocesan level that would respect the most up-to-date recommendations from the Department of Health and allow us to continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19/coronavirus in our community. Knowing that so many Catholics are deeply Eucharistic in their spirituality, our priests and deacons are also committed to expanding possibilities for adoration and private prayer, moving adoration, where necessary, to larger church spaces to facilitate appropriate social distancing.
I am grateful that confessions will continue to be heard at parishes, with appropriate precautions and adaptions taken in accordance with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. Priests will also continue to respond to sacramental emergencies and provide anointing and Viaticum to the extent this is possible. Please do not hesitate to contact your local parish to make them aware of any sacramental needs for the sick or the dying.
As we today mark a special day of fasting, abstinence and prayer invoking God’s Providential care for our Archdiocese, our country and the world, I invite you to consider the upcoming “fast” from the Eucharist as a way to draw ever closer to our Lord, especially as we experience a more intense longing for Jesus, present in the Eucharist. During this time of Eucharistic fasting, I would encourage each of us to offer intercessory prayer each day for the health and safety of our community, especially healthcare workers, and to join in solidarity with the many Catholics throughout the world who regularly are unable to receive communion, due to persecution or to an absence of priests.
Please continue to pray for those who have died from COVID-19/coronavirus, those who mourn them, those who are sick and the many who care for them. I ask you to keep in your prayers, as well, Governor Tim Walz and Commissioner Jan Malcom from the Minnesota Department of Health, and all public servants working to keep our communities safe.
May Mary, Consoler of the Afflicted, keep us close to each other and to the loving heart of her son.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Resources: Ten Tips For Attending A Virtual Mass
- Find an online streaming Mass to “attend” (see the list below for some options), or use the Guide for the Liturgy of the Word with Spiritual Communion (also below)
- Get dressed up like you are going to Mass
- Place a bowl of Holy Water out so people can bless themselves before Mass
- Set up “pews” using chairs (aka, don’t sit on that comfy couch!)
- Print the readings to create your own missal (see below for links to daily readings)
- Celebrate as a family together
- Offer up your Mass for those who frequently can’t attend (sick, homebound, persecuted Christians, etc.)
- Participate by singing, saying responses, standing, and kneeling like you would in person
- Pray a spiritual communion during the Rite of Communion (see below for this prayer)
- Have donuts or another special treat after Mass
Places to Stream Live Mass or Watch a Recorded Mass
Places to Find Readings for Mass
Act of Spiritual Communion
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
From Our Director of Faith Formation:
We are certainly living in unprecedented times and this can cause us to feel both stress and fear. It seems that every day we are confronted with more information that may cause us to become more apprehensive. Without a doubt, we are living in a difficult time and it is easy to succumb to the darkness of fear. But this is where we have been given an excellent opportunity to grow in holiness. To let God, sit in the driver's seat. To let Him take over. In the coming days and weeks, we would like to encourage you to pray for all those who are affected by this virus and for all those who are caring for the sick, especially our medical professionals, police officers, and EMT's.
Father Peter and I met this morning and we have decided that we will be postponing all Faith Formation classes (preschool; elementary; EDGE; and Confirmation) indefinitely. We ask for your patience as we take this day by day and as we get more information, we will continue to be in contact with all of our parish families. Please watch the Saint Ambrose parish website for updates, opportunities for spiritual growth, and updates as to the steps we are taking as a parish community.
FIRST EUCHARIST: First Eucharist Retreats have been postponed at this time. We are hoping that we will still be able to hold them at a later date; however, we are not able to make any specific plans about holding the retreats at this time.
In regards to the First Eucharist Masses, we will be taking this one day at a time. Please be assured that we will be celebrating First Eucharist here at Saint Ambrose, we just aren't sure whether or not they will still be held on our assigned weekends. We ask for your patience as we proceed through these unprecedented times and please know that we will update you as soon as we have any additional information.
If you haven't completed your child's take-home materials, we ask that you do so. You should also complete their First Eucharist banner so that they are ready for the upcoming Masses.
CONFIRMATION: Both our Year I and Year II Confirmation Retreats that were scheduled for this month have been canceled. We will not be able to make those retreats up but will have some options available for those teens who would like to attend a retreat after the pandemic has receded.
Year II Candidates can be assured that we will be celebrating Confirmation here at Saint Ambrose, we just aren't sure whether or not it will still be held on Saturday, April 18th. If your teen has not turned in their letter requesting the Sacrament of Confirmation to Father Peter, please have them do so via email by the end of this week. We also need them to turn in the Ministry Reflection paper and that can be done via email as well. Please send all paperwork directly to me and I will get it to Father Peter.
JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH YOUTH MINISTRY: All middle and high school youth ministry events have been cancelled. This includes:
- Extreme Faith Night on Friday, March 20th
- All Edge Events and Sessions
- All Tuesday night high school ministry; Novus, Zeal, and Encounter
**Please have your son or daughter follow @teen_zeal on Instagram for more updates and encouragement throughout this time when we cannot do ministry in person**
Again, we want to thank you for your patience and prayers during this time. We are truly blessed to be part of this wonderful Catholic community and the knowledge that God loves us unconditionally.
Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need any additional information.
God Bless! Please know that you and your families are in our prayers.
Director of Faith Formation
From Our School Principal:
Dear Saint Ambrose
It is a privilege to partner with you in the education and nurturing of your sons and daughters. As a Catholic school community, we are not confined only to the pursuit of academic excellence. We take seriously our responsibility to care for the physical and spiritual needs of every child in our community. This commitment has caused us to consider very carefully how we might best serve our families during this time of state and national emergency related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Following the governor’s announcement, our school and Extended Day program will be closed through March 27. Our Early Childhood Education Center will be closed as we await further guidance regarding our youngest Saint Ambrose community members. At this time we are prepared for distance learning for our K-8 students as our state and Archdiocesan leaders make decisions based on the health and safety of our communities.
We know this is difficult news. We are with you, and are committed to serving you.
Please be assured of our continued prayers and pledge of support for each of our children, students and families. We are joined by Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens and are praying for all of us in this time of uncertainty. Let us continue to pray for each other and all those affected by COVID-19.
Betsy Osterhaus Hand