Updated: Oct 13
The parish has been through some real highs and lows the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to briefly share a few thoughts about some of the reasons. Those who are regular readers of the bulletin probably noticed that there was no “letter from the pastor” last week. The reason for that was I had arranged my schedule to have a block of time free last Thursday morning to write the letter, before Eliza would sub
mit the bulletin to the publisher around noon. But it was last Thursday morning that my morning began with a message informing me that someone had vandalized the front doors of St. Joseph Church, and my morning was spent meeting with the police and on the phone with various officials in the archdiocese. Because the graffiti included a very clearly satanic symbol, the decision was made to keep the church closed until the proper exorcism prayers could be prayed, which happened the following morning. While no priest ever wants to be in a situation where such prayers are necessary, I found myself filled with great gratitude that our Catholic faith provides us with such powerful weapons against the power of the enemy. At the conclusion of the prayers, the doors were touched by a reliquary containing a few chips of stone from Mont St. Michel, the great mountaintop shrine in France where St. Michael the Archangel famously appeared in the 8th century. After praying to St. Michael the Archangel after every Mass for so many months now, it seemed the perfect way to conclude the blessing of the church. As I touched the relic to the door, I asked the Archangel Michael to protect the church and all who enter it, and also that he and his heavenly army might prevent from entering anyone under the sway of the evil one. While the vandalism was shocking and distressing, the outpouring of support was amazing. Catholics from all over the country sent the parish messages and emails of support. Leaders and representatives of many other faith traditions in the greater New Haven area also sent their support. It was yet another example of how God is able to bring good even out of something evil.
On the positive side, there are a few “highs” that I wish to share with everyone as well. First, for any-one who did not hear the news, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints announced earlier this week that Fr. McGivney’s beatification Mass will take place on October 31 of this year. We do not know any further details about the Mass as of yet (other than it will take place in Connecticut) but having the actual date announced, at least for me, has caused the reality of “this is really happening” to sink in.
The other high of the last couple of weeks is that the “first phase” of the restoration of St. Mary Churchwhich involved the repair/stabilization of the interior plaster, some engineering work in the roof/ceiling structures, and the painting and decoration of the interior space is rapidly nearing completion. The scaffolding that has covered the interior of the church for over a year is being deconstruct-ed as we speak, and will be entirely removed around the beginning of August. It is not clear exactly yet when we will be able to have St. Mary’s back “open for business as usual,” as there is some other necessary work in the church that will require the doors remaining closed, but barring anything truly unexpected, I estimate that by early September at the absolute latest we will be back in St. Mary’s for our full schedule of regular Masses. There are still additional aspects of the restoration to be done (“phase two,” if you will) which will focus primarily on the altars and sanctuary space, but most of that will be work done at ground level and will not require the church to be closed for extended periods of time. It has been a long time since we have been able to use that space for its intended purpose, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to celebrate Mass on a regular basis there once again.
Fr. John Paul