Throughout the pandemic, with good leadership from Father Bernie, we have done our best to make the spirituality of the liturgy available to the parish via the internet, even when we weren’t able to gather in the buildings at 120 Ela. But since last summer, with the faithful and, frankly, courageous cooperation of many of our fellow parishioners, St. Anne’s has been celebrating the liturgy live and also streaming the liturgy to the residences of those unable to attend. By the end of 2020, as you recall, we had even installed a state-of-the-art array of live-streaming cameras and computers to adapt to the situation, overseen by parishioner Mark Karney.
In this moment, we seem to be on a kind of cusp with regard to next phase of the COVID era. We need to see how people continue to respond to the request from health experts and the government to be vaccinated. We don’t know yet how suburban areas like the greater Barrington area will fare. Right now, our masking policy continues to be, following archdiocesan instructions, that “masks remain strongly recommended (emphasis mine) for all clergy and parishioners attending Masses and liturgies throughout all archdiocesan churches. As such, we once again ask that all pastors, priests, deacons and lay ministers throughout the archdiocese wear masks for all liturgical services regardless of their vaccination status. As previously noted, this is a safe practice and models charitable behavior.” (8/18/21) Our Sunday mass attendance has hovered for the last several weeks in the mid-700s.
Here is what’s happening with various aspects of liturgy and commission life at this time:
- Choir — We had one in-person rehearsal in July, then things got weird with the Delta variant and people were less willing to come to a rehearsal, even in the church. As of today, we have not begun rehearsal yet, and haven’t scheduled any into September. Most local parishes are also waiting to see how things develop. For now, we will do as we have been doing, sticking to songs that the choir and cantors know well and that you know well, so that participation is easier.
- Singing — We do encourage you to sing, or hum along, or whatever you are comfortable doing. It’s not easy with the mask on. I have created a larger space for the choir, for their protection and yours, so that they can sing with masks off if they choose to. But if you can sing, please sing! We need your voice, but we also need to keep safety as our first priority.
- Liturgy Commission — Our last worship commission meeting was March 4 of last year. Since our practice of Eucharist was pared down to essential ministers and music, we just haven’t met since then in order to reduce contact with each other. We have scheduled meetings beginning in October, 2021. We will use the Zoom format if it is necessary.
- Children’s liturgy of the word. — Again, I feel there is no sense forcing this issue until parents feel it’s safe for young children to come back to church, something we won’t really know until we see how the current breakout is controlled. Children’s Liturgy of the Word worked well last year, especially as a part of the Children’s Faith Formation Sunday experience, and I would hope we can begin to celebrate it again in the upcoming months. When it is safe, I will recruit more prayer leaders for this ministry, along with other ministries mentioned next.
- What can you do? Once we get through this phase of the pandemic and people are more comfortable returning to church (i.e., when numbers require it, and it is safe to gather for training), we will be recruiting more adult altar servers, ushers, and choir members, and other ministers as needed. We will once again look to using school-age servers when it is safe for them to serve mass. In the meantime, we can still use a few more adult servers and ushers. If you are interested, please let me know at the office (847-620-3064) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My gratitude to all of you who have continued to offer your services to the parish during this time, and to all who have been so supportive to the rest of the staff and me. I’m especially grateful, of course, to cantors, choir members, and musicians, who have helped so much in lifting the spirit of our worship, and to Mark Karney and Erykaand Rich Accordino for being available to livestream our worship and reflections to those at home.