COVID-19

Parish Update - May 24, 2020

Sunday, May 24 | 5:35 PM

 

 

Public Liturgies Remain Suspended at Most Blessed Sacrament

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

Matthew 28:20

 

People of God --
You may be aware that Archbishop Hartmayer recently allowed parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta to resume public liturgies as early as Monday, May 25. Parishes that proceed with resuming public liturgies must adhere to a set of guidelines to ensure physical distancing and sanitation. 
Deacon Toca and I are of the same mind: it would not be prudent to resume public liturgies at Most Blessed Sacrament at this time. This understanding is also the consensus of the parish staff and the newly-formed Parish Hygiene Council. 
Please be advised that public liturgies at Most Blessed Sacrament remain suspended until further notice.
We are committed to supporting our parish family during these challenging times. We are also encouraged by the various ways parishioners are supporting one another in the spirit Christian love. All of this is a reminder that the Church is still alive.
I will update our parish family when we have a better idea of when we will resume public liturgies. Until then, we are here for you. 
In the Lord,
Father Desmond Drummer
Pastor

 

Catholic Bishops of Georgia Announce Decision for Parishes

Thursday, April 23 | 12:15 PM

The Catholic bishops who serve the two dioceses in Georgia (Atlanta and Savannah) made public today their joint decision to refrain from opening Catholic parishes in response to Governor Kemp's plan to reopen commercial and community activities in the state.

The decision is provided below:

 


Bishops of Georgia Respond to Governor Kemp's April 20 Order

April 23, 2020

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

Knowing how much Catholics everywhere are yearning to return to the Eucharist and to gather once again in our churches, we must communicate that, having struggled with our decision, we believe that we must yet maintain the current practice of sheltering in place. With input and support from the priests of both the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah, we are, for the safety of all Georgia residents, not authorizing the return to congregating at churches or making our churches available for devotions. This determination extends through the month of May.  If the sheltering-in-place and social distancing guidelines are altered significantly during this time, we will reexamine the possibility of congregating at churches.

We took many factors into account in coming to this conclusion. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has been updating data daily and providing guidance on when next steps might be safe. Their current report on Georgia indicates that waiting until June to shift social distancing strategies would be the best course of action.

Many of our priests fall into the high-risk category for this virus, as do a good number of the faithful. In addition to that, priests are reluctant to put their congregations at risk. With more than 200 churches and more than one million Catholics in the state of Georgia, in a great variety of circumstances, we are not able to offer a workable strategy that could apply throughout our diverse population.

If one church offers a unique liturgy or devotion, it might be flooded with attendees. Normally that would be a welcome response, but in the current environment this would not respect the need to remain, for safety’s sake, in place. The same is true for drive-through services and devotions. Parishes that could accommodate a drive-through service or reconciliation for their own members would not be able to safely accommodate the additional people from surrounding communities.

We will take the time from now until we do resume regular liturgies and sacraments to carefully plot the conditions--including matters of numerical management, required spacing, and sanitation--under which churches may safely return to offering regular gatherings.  The dispensation from Saturday or Sunday Mass attendance is, of course, still applicable, although Catholics are expected to avail themselves of the virtual Mass each week.

Preserving the bonds of parish life is particularly important, even as we see evidence of the strengthening of family worship and devotion in our homes.  Parishes are reaching out to the elderly and homebound, which we heartily endorse.  Providing encouragement, especially in light of the protracted absence from normal activities, is a proper work of mercy.

Parish catechetical activities such as Parish Schools of Religion or other faith formation opportunities should be offered digitally. Both Arch/Diocesan staff and Parish staff have put together resources for both catechetical leaders and families to use, and they are updating their website resource pages almost daily.

The employees of the Chanceries will continue their working remotely and parishes are strongly encouraged to do likewise.

This is an unprecedented time in history, and we hardly imagined a time when we would have to weigh our Church’s spiritual progress against the brute necessities of general health and survival.  But, we live in the reality of Easter, and even now we rejoice in the goodness of God and the saving grace of the Risen Lord.  May the ever-new and ever-wondrous Paraclete, the Spirit of all truth, sustain us in hope and keep us united in the confession of our Catholic belief.

 

Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, O.F.M.Conv.

Bishop of Savannah/Archbishop-designate of Atlanta

 

Bishop Joel M. Konzen, S.M.

Diocesan Administrator

 

Bishop Bernard Shlesinger, III

Auxiliary Bishop

Pray with Pope Francis Today at 1:00pm

Friday, March 27 | 8:40 AM

Today at 1:00pm EDT (6pm in Rome), Pope Francis will conduct an Urbi et orbi blessing. 

He encourages people of faith around the world to join him via a variety of communication outlets (live-streaming, social media, television, radio, etc.).

Read "How to pray with the Pope on Friday" to learn more. A live feed is featured on the webpage. 

I'll be tuning in myself!

Now, having shared the information above, I will be the first to acknowledge the word "indulgence" might be puzzling -- even worrisome. The word has baggage. We all know that the selling of indulgences was one of the variety of abuses that led to the Reformation. Although the language (and at times the accompanying theology) is antiquated, allow me to offer an approach that may serve to alleviate concern.  

We can understand an indulgence to be a special blessing that assures us of the unconditional, life-giving love of God in our lives today.

I look forward to joining you as we join our hearts in prayer with our sisters and brothers around the world. 

Church Begins at Home: The 4th Sunday of Lent

Saturday, March 21 | 6:30 PM

 

Click HERE to learn more about Sustaining Our Faith or HERE to go directly to the resources for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ --

While the COVID-19 pandemic upends religious routines and expectations for parish life, I am encouraged because I know that church begins at home.

For those who, like me, live alone, it means that we must nurture our relationship with the Lord in such a way that when we join with others in the faith community the depth of our relationship and commitment bears fruit for others.

For those who live in a household -- whether as a couple, blended family or multiple generations -- church is not something we visit once or twice a week. It is who we are together as sons and daughters of God who lead one another toward our God-given purpose.

This is to say, I am not worried about what will happen to our parish. My pastoral commitment to you during the present crisis is that the parish staff and I will support you as you seek to cultivate your relationship with God as individuals, households and families. While this aspect of ministry is not new, we now have an opportunity to exclusively focus on this essential aspect of building up the Body of Christ. 

During this time, when we are observing curfews and spending more time at home, my prayer is that you grow closer to God and stronger in your identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Our growth in faith will, among other things, deepen our care and concern for all members of the human family and our beloved planet, our common home. The parish staff and I will support you. And we all will continue praying for one another. 

The "Sustaining Our Faith" webpage contains resources that will support your journey of faith during this pandemic. The weekly material corresponds with the Biblical readings of a given Sunday.  Select the identifying category or categories that work best for you and/or your household. Please know that there is no way you can do any of this wrong -- simply take the first step and let the Lord surprise you. 

If you have any questions or need some assistance, do not hesitate to contact Lyndon Batiste at lbatiste@mbschurch.com. Of course, I am also here to support you. 

As I prepare to offer a private Mass for our parish community on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, please know my heart is with you. I will make your prayers my own. The Word of God will sustain us during this time -- because "the word of God is living and effective" (Hebrews 4:12). 

When we gather together again at the Lord's Table -- whenever that will be -- we will be stronger because we used the time we were given to prioritize our understanding that church begins at home.


Your Brother in Christ,

Father Desmond Drummer

Staying Connected as a Parish Family

Friday, March 20 | 6:00 PM

It has been about a week since we began practicing physical distancing (the preferred term for what we've been asked to do to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic). During these challenging times, we will continue adhering to the recommendations and directives of public health experts and public officials at every level of government. 

Although we are practicing physical distancing, our social connections must continue for the sake of our well being.

As a parish family, here are three points to consider as we seek to stay connected. 

 

1. Remain in touch with your friends and contacts in the parish community.

Parishioners have been exchanging emails, phone calls and text messages to check in with one another. This is wonderful! These vital connections will continue sustaining us as we endure this crisis together. Be especially mindful of the healthcare workers in our parish community. Messages of encouragement to them mean a lot.

 

2. Consider becoming a tele-buddy

We are asking parishioners to consider being available to connect with individuals who need some extra attention. Tele-buddies will make a phone call to check in with a designated person 2-3 times a week. Tele-buddies will be matched as needs manifest. To sign up, CLICK HERE.

 

3. Contact the parish office to reach someone you'd like to check on

We understand that you may not have the contact information for all the parishioners you know. If you would like to reach out to a parishioner and you do not have their contact information, simply call the parish office (404.349.9263 - leave a message) or send an email to the parish office manager, Dara Lee, at dlee@mbschurch.com. Dara will contact the individual with whom you are seeking to connect to request permission from them to pass on their contact information.

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On behalf of Deacon Toca and the parish staff, be assured of our mindfulness of all of you. We will be providing more information in the coming days.

Before signing off, let me share the first two verses from Psalm 91 that remind us that our emotional, mental and spiritual shelter is in the Lord:

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,

who abide in the shade of the Almighty,

say to the Lord, "My refuge and fortress,

my God in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)

When we entrust ourselves to God's power; when we surrender our need to be in control; when we give ourselves the necessary space to rest, rejuvenate and clear our thoughts -- it is precisely there that we experience the shelter of the Most High...come what may. 

 

In the Lord,

Father Desmond Drummer

Pastor

 

Join Pope Francis in Praying the Rosary

Thursday, March 19 | 2:55 PM

 

Sisters and Brothers --

Pope Francis is inviting people to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary this evening (at 4pm EDT for us in Atlanta).

The Rosary will be prayed for our neighbors in Italy who are significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, this call to prayer has a wider intention as well -- the needs of the entire world facing this crisis. 

For more information on this call to prayer and to see a video invitation from Pope Francis, CLICK HERE.

For more information on how to pray the Rosary, CLICK HERE.

To access the live video feed from the Vatican, CLICK HERE.

In honor of today's Solemnity of Saint Joseph, conclude the Rosary with a St. Joseph Prayer.

 

In Solidarity,

Father Desmond Drummer

COVID-19 Update #7 - Request

Thursday, March 19 | 9:40 AM

Dear Friends in Christ --

The peace of the Lord be with you always.

This is update #7 for the friends and parishioners of Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in South Fulton.

I am writing to make a special request. As we will be dependent upon e-communications during the present crises, we would like to ensure that everyone is receiving these emails. We are preparing to roll out a series of important emails and I would like for everyone to be in the loop.  

I kindly ask that you reach out to your friends and connections in the parish to ensure that they have received this and previous emails from the parish.

If they say "no":

  • Ask them to check the junk/spam folder for this email (subject: COVID-19 Update #7 - Request). They will need to mark it as "not junk" or "not spam," etc. and remain vigilant until they are receiving the emails in their regular inbox.
  • If they are not, in fact, receiving these emails, please ask them to send their name and email address to Dara Lee at dlee@mbschurch.com

I truly appreciate your help in this regard. As I stated earlier this week, we will remain connected as a parish family.

Also, please know that these updates are posted on the parish website. 

Since today is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are reminded that the Holy Family carried out their God-given responsibilities in the face of tremendous uncertainty. We, too, can continue doing what we must do. Earlier today, Pope Francis offered a beautiful reflection on St. Joseph. It's an encouraging read!

Be assured that I am keeping all of you in mind. 

 

-- Father Desmond Drummer

COVID-19 Update #6

Monday, March 16 | 8:05 PM

This evening, the diocesan administrator, Bishop Joel Konzen, announced that public Masses in the Archdiocese of Atlanta are suspended through Sunday, April 5.

Given the CDC's guidelines banning events with 50 people or more for 8 weeks, we should expect that the suspension will be extended at some point in the future. Please be assured that as pastor at Most Blessed Sacrament, I will heed the CDC's recommendations for the sake of community health.

While the uncertainty we face together is disruptive, we remain a parish family. 

On the evening of Tuesday, March 17, the parish staff, Deacon Toca and I will meet in a conference call. We will discuss a number of matters, including the inspirations and commitments that have already emanated from our beloved parish family. I look forward to reporting to you how we will begin reconnecting in new ways and reaching out to those with a variety of needs. 

In the meantime, I invite you to brainstorm on the various ways you believe you may be called to connect, encourage and support your sisters and brothers. As we move forward, every voice and vision will be needed. 

Also, if you have any needs, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you. 

One last note. On Saturday evening I celebrated a private Mass in our chapel for the Third Sunday of Lent. The sun was setting. The lights were dim. Altar candles were lit. I was alone...but I really wasn't. I celebrated that private Mass for you -- for us. I celebrated the Eucharist in communion with you and our global Catholic Church. Your faces and stories filled my heart.

Indeed, absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

I am praying for you. Please pray for me.

 

In the Lord,

Father Desmond Drummer

Pastor

COVID-19 Update #5 - Sunday Masses Suspended

Saturday, March 14 | 1:50 PM

This morning, Governor Brian Kemp declared a public health emergency in the state of Georgia. In his press conference he suggested that faith-based organizations consider cancelling religious services. 

It is for this reason that Deacon Fred Toca and I have decided to suspend Sunday Masses at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church until further notice. This suspension applies to our three Sunday Masses (4:30pm on Saturday; 9am & 11:30am on Sunday).

As previously announced on Thursday, March 12, weekday liturgies at Most Blessed Sacrament are also suspended until further notice. 

Please know that our intention is to promote social distancing by completely eliminating ​any opportunity for people to find themselves in congregate settings on the parish campus. 

Once again, take some time to reflect on the readings for the Third Sunday of Lent. You may also appreciate viewing a video reflection on the readings.

Let us continue heeding the advice of public health experts, healthcare professionals and our public officials.

 

In the Lord,

Father Desmond Drummer

Pastor

COVID-19 Update #4

Friday, March 13 | 7:25 PM

The diocesan administrator, Bishop Joel Konzen, announced this evening that he is dispensing Catholics in the Archdiocese of Atlanta from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass through the month of March.

His full statement can be accessed HERE.

Because this dispensation falls short of an outright cancellation of all public Masses in the archdiocese, I once again reiterate my insistence that parishioners refrain from attending Masses this weekend for the sake of social distancing. 

Please know of my sincere care for you and your loved ones. 

 

Respectfully,

Father Desmond Drummer

Pastor