Pastor's Corner 011313

posted Jan 9, 2013, 10:08 AM by Music Director

             This past week we were all taken by surprise when the Vatican released a statement naming the Most Reverend Dennis Sullivan, Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of New York, to succeed Bishop Joseph Galante as the 8th Bishop of Camden.  While Bishop Galante has been in failing health the last year or so, most believed he would continue to serve the Diocese until reaching his 75th birthday in July. 

According to Church law, bishops must submit their resignation to the Pope when they reach the age of 75.  However, His Holiness is not obligated to accept it, and can extend any bishop’s ministry and service beyond that age.  Given Bishop Galante’s health, it was expected that the Pope would accept his resignation this summer.  That’s what makes the timing of this announcement such a surprise.

               While we are saddened by Bishop Galante’s deteriorated health, let us all wish him well as he moves into retirement.  Let us pray that God will strengthen him to endure his dialysis treatments and remain with us for many years to come. 

               Let us also give thanks to God for sending us a new Chief Shepherd in Bishop Sullivan!  He is said to be a very kind and personable man, one who is greatly loved by the people of the Archdiocese he has served.  Let us keep him in our prayers as he assumes a very difficult ministry, that he will be every bit the blessing to us that he has been to the people of the Church of New York. 

               In the meantime, I have been asked by the Pastoral Council and others to address the topic of church etiquette.  There are many aspects to this, too many to address in just one column.  So I will be happy to share my thoughts with you from time-to-time on them.  This week I’d like to address the topic as it relates to the cold/flu season.

               As I write this I am just beginning to recover from a bout of the flu, despite getting a flu shot back in the Fall!  This is in addition to having suffered 2 other upper respiratory infections (colds) in October and December!  We know that such infections are spread by contact with the viruses that cause them.  (We don’t “catch a cold,” for example, by going outside without a hat or coat!)  While there is no way of knowing who shared their germs with me (!) I wouldn’t be surprised if I contracted these infections, unintentionally of course, from someone in Church.

               Proper church etiquette in this regard would have anyone who is suffering from any communicable disease to stay home, to NOT attend church services until their illness is no longer contagious.  This is the best way to avoid spreading the virus to others.  Anyone who has had any contact with someone who has a communicable disease but is not sick him/herself does not necessarily have to avoid coming to church.  However, s/he should definitely refrain from hand-shaking or other physical exchanges and never receive Holy Communion from the chalice until they are absolutely certain the danger of spreading the infection has passed. 

               Some churches eliminate the Sign of Peace and Communion from the Chalice during the cold/flu season.  Others have eliminated these altogether, year-round.  While some might view these as effective strategies for cutting down the spread of communicable diseases, they seem to me to be at the very least an overreaction.  Consequently, I have no intention of eliminating these essential parts of our worship here at St. Charles.

               What I do strongly encourage is a loving sacrifice on the part of those who have or have been exposed to a cold or flu virus to follow the recommendations I have outlined above.  And isn’t that what etiquette is, a loving sacrifice?  And isn’t that the essence of Christian faith? 

               And now that professional ice hockey is returning to an arena near you…


Let’s go Flyers, and Sixers, too!


In His Love,

Fr. Mike