Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
None of us could have imagined even weeks ago, that we would celebrate Holy Week and Easter Sunday virtually.
I have been amazed and inspired by the creativity and initiative of our pastors, our people and our parishes to continue evangelizing all of Long Island.
Whether it is video-streaming Masses and Eucharistic adoration, conducting a virtual parish mission, or a health precaution sensitive Eucharistic procession through neighborhoods, you are all moving forward and trusting in the transformative power of the Risen Christ as we continue to experience the tragedies, trauma, unemployment, financial and economic distress of the COVID19 crisis.
The light that streams from the glorified wounds of the Risen Jesus always touches and transforms our wounds and fears, and the wounds and fears of the world.
We remember in a special way this Easter Sunday and throughout the Easter season the souls of those who have died from the corona virus and their families, and those who, as Pope Francis says, are “writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, deacons, religious men and women and so very many others.” We remember our families and the efforts of each of us to care for our families and our neighbors.
While we are all in pain that our Holy Week 2020 needs to be a virtual one, we do have a Pastoral Letter, The Great Week: A Pilgrimage with the Lord in Holy Week which can help strengthen, lift and inspire our virtual Holy Week celebrations.
This Pastoral Letter is a user-friendly, easily understandable synthesis of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum, its liturgical theology, spirituality and history, designed to show the relationship between the Sacred Liturgies of Holy Week and Catholic Evangelization.
I encourage everyone to participate in all the Holy Week liturgies virtually through the Catholic Faith Network (see: catholicfaithnetwork.org for details) and through your own parishes streaming the liturgies.
Let’s take this unique and virtual evangelization opportunity to pray that the Risen Christ might lead a massive return of Catholic Long Islanders to a full, active and conscious participation in our Holy Week liturgies and our Sunday Masses throughout the year.
I encourage you all to read and pray our Pastoral Letter which is available on our diocesan website DRVC.org and in the March 2020 Long Island Catholic magazine that many of you received at home.
I also had the opportunity on March 27, 2020, to share the Pastoral Letter with every American Bishop in the United States for possible use in their dioceses as they celebrate virtual Holy Weeks around the country.
I received an email from the Bishop of Fairbanks, Alaska. He thanked the Diocese of Rockville Centre for sharing the Holy Week Pastoral Letter with the people of Fairbanks, Alaska and said “We have 37 remote parishes of Native Alaskans, pretty much on ‘lock down’ that could benefit enormously from the Pastoral Letter.”
Catholic Long Islanders stand in the solidarity of the Risen Lord with Catholic Alaskans! This is just another example of the global Catholic solidarity that our Holy Father Pope Francis models for us and calls us to.
Thank you for continuing to support your parish and the vital ministries of our Church as your means allow during this most challenging time for all of us. The Church continues to serve the spiritual and physical needs of people during this crisis. Weekly collections mailed or given online will be critical to the sustaining and reemergence of our parishes.
Our Easter joy may be delayed this year, but our faith, hope and trust in the power of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection must shine brighter than ever. The cross of this crisis offers us the opportunity for a renewed and lasting appreciation for the gift of family and the transformative power of faith.
Know that you and all your families are in my heart and in my prayers as we celebrate The Great Week, Easter Sunday, the Easter Octave, Divine Mercy Sunday and the Easter Season.
He is Risen! Alleluia!
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre