Statement regarding COVID-19
LATEST UPDATE: May 20th, 2021
This Pentecost Sunday Marks another transition from the shared burdens of the pandemic towards the responsibilities we share as members of the Church of authentic freedom for loving service to our neighbor and reverent worship of God. After consultation with my priests, civic officials, members of the laity, and professionals in the fields of medicine and public health I judge to make the following changes to our established protocols that have been in effect since September 25, 2020 and modified on April 26, 2021. It is our Christian responsibility to maintain our concern for others, especially those most vulnerable, so that we attend Mass safely, offer sound religious education, and contribute to the common good of our parishes and the larger community of our towns counties, and state.
The alteration of protocols included with this letter addresses the celebration of Mass and other liturgies and other social and ministerial gatherings in our parishes and institutions. They updated the protocols for Mass promulgated by the Office of the Vicar General in the memo of April 26, 2021, and the protocols for Gatherings Outside of Mass as promulgated by the Office of the Vicar General on December 21, 2020. These new protocols will be in effect from May 21, 2021, until further notice.
Please, download and read the complete Pastoral Letter from our Bishop Mons. Reverend Michael F. Olson, STD, MA
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 3RD, 2021
September 30, 2020
SEPTEMBER 17, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As the fall is fast approaching, I wanted to send a quick note to the parish family to update you on some aspects of parish life here at St. Francis of Assisi. First off, we so appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate these extraordinary times. I greatly miss seeing all of you every week at Mass and I ask you to join me in praying fervently for the end of this pandemic so that we can be together as a parish family again soon.
Here are a few reminders:
- COVID Directives: You can view our parish’s current COVID-19 Directives here.
- Mass Obligation: The obligation to attend Mass in person remains lifted at this time, especially for those who are immunocompromised, over the age of 65, sick, or who might have been exposed to the coronovirus.
- Livestream Mass: We continue to livestream at least one Mass each weekend on our website (sfatx.org/livestream) and on our Facebook page (@StFrancisTX) for those who would like to join us in worship from home. These videos can also be watched at your convenience for the remainder of the weekend.
- In-Person Activities: In-person catechesis, faith formation, ministry events, and parish meetings remain suspended at this time, with very few exceptions. Prior parish (and diocesan) approval is required to meet in-person and strict meeting guidelines are in place for those approved. Contact the office for more information or questions.
- Parish Hours: The Parish Office continues to operate under modified hours: Monday-Thursday from 8:30-4:30pm and Friday from 8:30-12pm
- Outreach Ministry: Our Outreach has been extremely busy meeting the many needs of our community through this unprecedented time. If you have the means, we graciously ask for your contributions of food and gift cards for perishables to our Outreach Food Pantry. You can find out more at sfatx.org/outreach. Monetary Donations are also greatly appreciated. Any items or donations can also be brought to the office during normal office hours.
- Online Resources: If you haven’t been engaging with our online resources through this time, I encourage you to do so at sfatx.org/online.
By way of updates:
- Youth Catechesis: The Bishop and Diocese of Fort Worth have decided to move in-person youth catechesis to a weekly, online format for this fall. Our staff in the catechesis and evangelization department have been working hard to modify their plans given this change. If your child or grandchild is registered for in-person catechesis, you should be receiving more details through your email.
- Parish Picnic: Due to the ongoing pandemic and the current directives from the diocese, we are unable to have any in-person celebrations at this time. This includes our annual Parish Picnic & BBQ Cook-off, which typically is held the first weekend of October. We hope to be able to hold this event again in the Fall of 2021.
- Parish Directory: Due to unfortunate timing and the ongoing closures in various states around the country including where their offices and printing facilities are located, Lifetouch is currently very behind on printing Parish Directories. We have confirmation that our St. Francis Parish Directory is in the queue for printing but do not have an estimated date of delivery at this time.
- Capital Campaign: We received word from the diocesan pastoral finance council and the Bishop that they have approved us to go ahead with the plans for Phase 2 of our Capital Campaign. The next steps for us are to get bids, finalize our building plans, and make presentations to the appropriate people at the diocese. We will also be forming a building committee for this project. More info can be found at sfatx.org/campaign.
Thank you again for your continued support of our parish during this time. We look forward to the day when we can be back together again. Let’s continue to pray that it is sooner than later!
Fr. Sojan George
JUNE 26, 2020 at 5:00PM
Dear Parish Family,
This afternoon we received Bishop Michael Olson’s Latest Pastoral Letter regarding the Spread of COVID-19 and the Diocese’s response to it. I encourage you to read the Letter in its entirety. While the letter provides lots of reminders and clarifications for all the people of the diocese, our protocols at St. Francis of Assisi Parish are unaffected and will remain the same. Most importantly, the obligation to attend Mass remains lifted at this time and if you choose to attend Mass in person, masks are required. You can see all of our current directives here.
Also, due to unforeseen circumstances, we will be Livestreaming the 5pm Mass on Saturday this weekend rather than the 8am Sunday Mass. We appreciate your understanding for this last minute change again this weekend. The livestream will also be available for viewing the remainder of the weekend on our Facebook Page or at sfatx.org/livestream. All in-person Mass times are unaffected by this change, and will take place as normal at 5pm on Saturday and 8am, 10am, 1pm (Spanish) and 4:30pm on Sunday.
Please continue to pray for the end to this pandemic and peace in our world.
Fr. Sojan George
JUNE 19, 2020 at 10:00 AM
MAY 28, 2020 AT 11:00 AM
May 28, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
This weekend, May 30/31, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and were sent out to preach the Good News. We are very excited to finally welcome into the Church our 24 Catechumens and Candidates who have been preparing for weeks and have been anxiously awaiting the Rites of Initiation since before Easter, when many of them were unable to receive the Rites due to the coronavirus stay-at-home orders. Because of these additional Rites this weekend, I wanted to make you aware of some changes to the Livestream Mass Plan:
- The 5pm Mass will NOT be Livestreamed because it will include the Rites of Initiation for our 12 Catechumens (individuals seeking Baptism, Confirmation and first Eucharist). We will also NOT have overflow available in the Family Life Center for this Mass. We are asking those who don’t need to come to this Mass to avoid it so that the families of those entering the Church can be present and still abide by social distancing protocols.
- The 8am Mass and the 1pm Spanish Mass on Sunday, May 31 will be Livestreamed, viewable at sfatx.org/livestream or on our Facebook Page (@StFrancisTX). You can download the Music for the English Mass here.
- Overflow seating will also be available in the Family Life Center as needed for the 8am, 10am, 1pm and 4:30pm Masses this weekend (but not the 5pm Mass on Saturday). We will stream the Mass to the FLC only if needed as an overflow contingency (this is an update after clarification from the Bishop).
- We will distribute Eucharist in the Narthex at each Mass time for those who wish to watch the Livestream from their cars and then come inside the building to receive Holy Communion. The ushers will prop the Narthex doors during the distribution so those in their cars know when to come inside to receive. Remember, you must wear a mask and receive in the hand.
- The 10am and 1pm Masses will also include Rites of Initiation for our 12 Candidates (baptized Christians seeking Confirmation and first Eucharist) and may have more people in attendance than normal as their families may be present. Due to this, we expect the smallest crowds for this weekend at the 8am and 4:30pm Masses on Sunday and are recommending parishioners to attend these Masses if possible.
- To facilitate the administration of the sacraments to the Elect and Candidates at the 5pm, 10am and 1pm Masses, there will be reserved seating for them and their Godparents and/or Sponsors in the front pews, center aisle, both sides as needed. If you are accustomed to sitting in these pews, please find other seating for these Masses.
- Remember, the obligation to attend Mass still remains lifted during this time of pandemic, especially for the immunocompromised, those over 60 years old, or anyone who is ill or may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- And don’t forget, masks MUST be worn during Mass and in the Church building at all times. We ask that people remain 6ft apart and wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the building. We are also sanitizing the Church and other high-touch areas between each Mass.
We look forward to celebrating Pentecost with you this weekend, either in-person or via Livestream. Please keep all of those people who will enter the Church this weekend at St. Francis parish, and throughout our Diocese, in your prayers. Also join me in praying for the end of this pandemic!
Fr. Sojan George
SENT ON MAY 22, 2020 AT 11:00 AM
May 22, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As anticipated, we received the newest Pastoral Letter from Bishop Olson yesterday afternoon, which outlined “Phase 2” of a Return to Mass within the Diocese of Fort Worth. I strongly encourage you to read the entire Pastoral Letter, but I have provided an outline of the changes that will affect our St. Francis parish community:
- The faithful remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass at this time, especially those over 60, the immunocompromised, or anyone who feels ill or thinks they may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
- Everyone MUST wear a mask or scarf over their mouth and nose when they attend Mass, confession, or come to the parish offices. This is a directive from the Bishop and attendees will not be seated without a mask. If you don’t have one, we have some here at the parish that an usher can provide to you.
- Effective immediately, the the exterior doors will be locked 10 minutes after the start of Mass for the safety of our parishioners and to ensure our ushers can focus their attention on the sanctuary. If you arrive late or need to leave the building during Mass at any time, an usher will remain at the North doors (near the Parish Office) to let you into the building.
- We will maintain 25%-50% occupancy capacity and 6ft distancing in our Church at this time due to the configuration and proximity of our pews. We will continue to reassess this as attendance at Mass continues to increase and may choose to increase occupancy and/or shorten social distancing spacing from 6 feet to 3 feet (as the Bishop noted) at a later date.
- We will continue to livestream weekend Masses, which can be watched from your home or car. This weekend, May 23/24, we will livestream the 5pm Saturday Evening Mass (Music for the Mass can be downloaded here) and the 1pm Sunday Spanish Mass. Both Masses will continue to be available for watching after they are streamed so you can participate in Mass at your convenience. They can be accessed at our Facebook Page (@StFrancisTX) or at sfatx.org/livestream.
- We will stream Mass at all normal times in the Family Life Center for anyone who would prefer smaller crowds or who would like to watch the stream from their car and then come inside the building to receive communion. Please note: only the Glass Doors on the west side of the FLC (directly into the large multi-purpose room) will be open. This will no longer be considered an overflow contingency but will be an option readily available for all parishioners. Remember, masks still must be worn within the building at all times.
- Per the directives of the Bishop, the procedure for distributing Holy Communion at an outside designated area is to be discontinued. We will no longer be distributing communion in our parking lots and instead encourage those wishing to receive Holy Eucharist to come inside the FLC as noted above.
Be assured of my continued prayers for you and the end of this pandemic during this time. I look forward to praying Mass with many of you in person, and online, this weekend!
Fr. Sojan George
SENT ON APRIL 28, 2020 AT 3:30 PM
April 28, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
It is with great joy that I am able to announce that the Bishop has approved for our parish to return to public Masses with distribution of communion this coming weekend, May 2/3.
[Added 4/30/2020 – Please read Bishop Olson’s most recent Pastoral Letter regarding this.]
While this will look very different than our “normal” weekend Masses, we are taking steps to ensure a safe environment for those who wish to attend while still providing livestreamed options for those who can’t. I apologize for the length of this this, but want to ensure everyone is informed of the logistical details needed to undertake this effort. You can download a pdf version of these directives here.
- First, the obligation to physically attend Mass is still lifted through the time of this pandemic, especially for those over the age of 60, their caretakers, the immunocompromised, those who are feeling ill, or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19. We ask that you NOT attend if you are sick so that we can continue to protect the vulnerable around us, but instead join us via Livestream.
- Public Masses will be held at the normal weekend Mass times (Saturday at 5pm, and Sunday at 8am, 10am, 1pm Spanish, and 4:30pm), with 25% occupancy restrictions in place (per the Governor’s order). This means 250 people will be allowed in the Church for each Mass with social distancing measures in place. Family units may sit together but individuals MUST sit a minimum of 6ft apart. We ask that you follow the instructions of the ushers when finding seats, coming forward for communion, and upon dismissal so that we can ensure safe distancing. NO congregating will be allowed before or after Mass.
- After attendance of 250 is reached in the Church, we will provide overflow for another 125 people to watch the streamed Mass in the Family Life Center, with communion distributed there as well. Please follow usher instructions.
- If you don’t feel comfortable around large gatherings but still would like to receive communion (or if the building capacities are reached), you may watch the livestream Mass in the parking lot and communion will be brought outside after each Mass. This will happen once the people who attended the Mass inside have left the parking lot. Please continue to remain in your car until communion is brought to you and an usher directs you forward.
- For those who stay in your car or choose to stay home at this time, we will Livestream the 5pm Saturday evening Mass. It can also be watched at your convenience the remainder of the weekend. It will be streamed on our Facebook Page (@StFrancisTX) or at sfatx.org/livestream.
- Masks MUST be worn by anyone in attendance at the Masses or who wishes to receive Eucharist in the parking lot. For directions on how to make a mask (even without sewing) visit the CDC website. We also have a team of volunteers making masks and will have some for those individuals without them when they arrive at the Church; however, we ask if possible for you to bring your own so we can conserve our supplies into the coming weeks.
- Holy Communion will only be distributed in the hand. When you come up, receive the host in your hand, step away from the Eucharistic Minister, then use one hand to pull your mask down, before picking up the host to consume it. Then return your mask to its proper place before walking back to your seat or car. We ask that you wait patiently as the ushers direct people up for communion so that proper social distancing can be maintained. Eucharistic ministers will also be wearing masks and gloves.
- We ask all those in attendance or receiving Holy Communion to also wash and/or sanitize their hands upon arriving at the Church. Hand sanitizer will be available at the Church entrances and on tables in the parking lots. Steps will also be taken between Masses to sanitize the door handles, pews, bathrooms, and all other “high-touch” areas. Remember, no holding hands for the “Our Father” and the Sign of Peace is suspended. The offertory baskets will not be passed, but instead baskets will be available at the exit doors where you can drop your weekly contributions. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation with these efforts.
- Public Daily Masses will resume on the normal schedule with the 250 attendance limit and mask requirement beginning Monday, May 4. We will decide at a later date about the return of Adoration.
- Confession will take place Friday, May 1 from 5-7pm and Saturday, May 2 from 3-4:30pm outside near the Narthex doors. Please follow all posted signage and cones and remain 6ft apart while in line. You must wear a mask.
- The Parish Offices and Church will be open beginning next Monday, May 4 on M-TH from 8:30am-4:30pm and F from 8:30am-12pm. You are welcome to come and pray in the building, but please remember these directives.
- At this moment, all in-person, catechesis, faith formation, ministry events, and parish meetings continue to be suspended. Please check our parish’s website at sfatx.org/online for resources you can use to build up your family at this time.
Please continue to pray for an end to this pandemic and for all those affected by it. We give thanks to God for the opportunity to return to public worship together and look forward to the day when all restrictions can be lifted so that our entire parish family can be united at Mass. Until that time, we appreciate your understanding and cooperation!
Fr. Sojan George
SENT ON APRIL 22, 2020 AT 8:00 AM
April 22, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As we continue to abide by the “Stay-at-Home” Order, I wanted to invite the entire parish community to join me via Livestream for the following Masses for the upcoming weeks. You can join via our Facebook page (@StFrancisTX) or watched the embedded videos at sfatx.org/livestream.
Livestream Schedule for Monday, April 20 – Sunday, April 26
- Wednesday, April 22 at 6pm – Mass followed by Adoration & Benediction
- Sunday, April 26 at 10am – English Mass
- Sunday, April 26 at 1pm – Spanish Mass
On Friday, April 17, Bishop Olson also sent the latest Pastoral Letter to the priests and faithful of the diocese. He states “Now is the time for us to prepare more intentionally for our return to the public celebration of Mass with distribution of Holy Communion in various parts of the Diocese of Fort Worth throughout the month of May. Please know that this will require preparation and patience by each of us to return in a safe, gradual, incremental, regional and ordered manner in tandem with the return to business…” He also notes that upon the return to public Masses, the faithful will be expected to wear a cloth face mask. If you don’t already have one, you can find out more about the recommendation and how to make one at the CDC website. We are also putting together a team at the parish to prepare masks for our parishioners who may need them. You can join the effort by calling Rosie at 817-481-2685. I encourage you to read the entire Pastoral Letter from Bishop Olson as we prepare to return to Mass in the coming weeks. As soon as we have more details on a timeline for St. Francis of Assisi, we will make our parish community aware.
Our parish staff are working hard to provide virtual resources to our parish community at sfatx.org/online. Edmund, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis, recently did an interview with Laura Nelson, Coordinator of Children’s Catechesis. You can watch it here. Tim Jara and Sam Ford, our youth ministers, are also hosting weekly Young Church zoom meetings and will be interviewing parishioner Dr. Stephen Buksh, MD about the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday evening. If you have a question for Dr. Buksh to answer, you can email it to email@example.com. We will post the video interview for the entire parish community to watch later this weekend.
As a reminder, if you would like to physically drop-off your weekly offerings, other paperwork, or gift card donations for our Outreach, our parish secretary will be working every Tuesday from 9am-2pm at the parish offices. Simply call when you arrive (817-481-2685) or knock on the door to be let in. If you are wanting to help parishioners who might be out of work or need food, our St. Francis Outreach is collecting Walmart and Grocery Store gift cards in small denominations ($10-30) to distribute to those in need. Either drop them by the office next Tuesday or mail them to our parish offices, attn: Outreach. We also ask all parishioners to prayerfully consider setting up their weekly contributions through our Online Giving if they haven’t already.
Please continue to pray for an end to the spread of this pandemic and all those suffering the effects of it. One of our own parishioners, an elderly nursing home resident, is in the hospital fighting COVID-19. Please pray for her recovery. Be assured of my continued prayers during this time and I hope you will join us on our Livestream of Mass and Adoration this week!
SENT ON APRIL 15, 2020 AT 8:00 AM
April 15, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As we continue to abide by the “Stay-at-Home” Order over the coming week, I wanted to invite the entire parish community to join me via Livestream for the following Masses and a special prayer opportunity on Divine Mercy Sunday. You can join via our Facebook page (@StFrancisTX) or watched the embedded videos at sfatx.org/livestream.
Livestream Schedule for Monday, April 13 – Sunday, April 19
- Wednesday, April 15 at 6pm – Mass followed by Adoration & Benediction
- Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19 at 10am – English Mass
- Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19 at 1pm – Spanish Mass
- Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19 at 3pm – Divine Mercy Chaplet with Adoration & Benediction
In addition to Mass, on this coming Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19, we will join together on Livestream for a Divine Mercy Chaplet during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 3pm. This will be a special opportunity for us to close out the Divine Mercy Novena as a parish family, especially praying for Christ’s mercy on the world during this time of pandemic. Click the links for the Prayers of the Novena and instructions for praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. In this unprecedented time, Pope Francis has also called for the faithful to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, offering a plenary indulgence when it is prayed along with other conditions. You can learn more about the indulgences in the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter sent on 3/24/2020.
Also, in an effort to help parishioners who would like to physically drop-off their weekly offerings, other paperwork, or gift card donations for our Outreach, our parish secretary will be working every Tuesday from 9am-2pm at the parish offices. Simply call when you arrive (817-481-2685) or knock on the door to be let in. If you are wanting to help parishioners who might be out of work or need food, our St. Francis Outreach is collecting Walmart and Grocery Store gift cards in small denominations ($10-30) to distribute to those in need. Either drop them by the office next Tuesday or mail them to our parish offices, attn: Outreach.
Be assured of my continued prayers during this time and I hope you will join us for Mass, Adoration, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet on Livestream in the coming days!
Fr. Sojan George
SENT ON APRIL 3, 2020 AT 11:00AM
April 3, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As we prepare to being Holy Week beginning this Sunday, April 5, I wanted to update everyone on the Mass schedule for Holy Week and Easter. I also encourage everyone to read Bishop Olson’s latest Pastoral Letter, which addresses the Governor’s most recent statement that religious services are essential. Of note, Bishop Olson states that “It is precisely in this exercise of our right to religious freedom that I direct our priests and faithful to maintain the policy that was set forth in my pastoral letter to you on March 24, 2020.”
Therefore, due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 as well as Bishop’s directives, the Holy Week and Easter Schedule will be livestreamed this year on our Facebook Page (@StFrancisTX). For instructions on how to join without a Facebook account, visit sfatx.org/livestream.
Holy Week & Easter Schedule:
Palm Sunday, April 5 // Livestreamed Mass at 10am & 1pm (Spanish)
Holy Thursday, April 9 // Livestreamed Mass at 7pm
Good Friday, April 10 // Livestreamed Service at 3pm
Easter Vigil, April 11 // Livestreamed Mass at 8:30pm
Easter Sunday, April 12 // Livestreamed Mass at 10am & 12noon (Spanish)
As you continue to pray the Mass at home via Livestream, you might find this resource on how to best pray an online mass helpful.
I continue to send out updates via our Flocknote email system and encourage you to sign-up to receive our emails if you aren’t already receiving them. That can be done at sfatx.org/flocknote. Please also prayerfully consider setting up your weekly contributions to the parish through our online system, Faith Direct, at sfatx.org/give-online. You can also make a one-time gift by texting 817-587-1600.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support during this time! I joyfully anticipate the day when we will be able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist together once again.
Fr. Sojan George
SENT MARCH 24, 2020 AT 5:00PM
March 24, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As many of you have probably heard by now, Tarrant County has issued a Stay-at-Home Executive Order, which goes into affect tonight Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 11:59pm until April 7, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. With this new order in place, Bishop Michael F. Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth, has written the faithful of our Diocese the following Pastoral Letter.
Of note, the Pastoral Letter states: “Out of this same love for our neighbor and in cooperation with the latest order by our civic officials to ‘stay at home’ I am hereby directing that the most recent practice of the public distribution of the Eucharist after masses without a congregation be stopped for the time being. I am making this decision in the interest of public health and for the prevention of the spread of the virus. Scheduled Masses should continue to be celebrated in parishes by priest’s sine populo (without a congregation present)…”
I encourage our entire parish community to read Bishop Olson’s letter in its entirety, especially since it also outlines in detail Pope Francis’ recent announcement regarding three special plenary indulgences offered by the Church at this time.
At St. Francis of Assisi Parish, these new directives will mean the following updates to Mass & Activities:
- Mass will continue to be offered sine populo (without a congregation) at all normal times. Please know I will be holding the entire parish community up in prayer as I celebrate these Masses. Please recite the Prayer of Spiritual Communion through this time.
- We will Live Stream the 5pm Saturday and 10am Sunday Masses on our Facebook Page (@StFrancisTX). If you don’t have Facebook, you can find instructions for watching these live streamed Masses without login information at sfatx.org/livestream.
- The Parish Office Building will be closed until further notice, but the phone will continue to be answered during office hours (817-481-2685). All of our staff will be working from home during this time to meet the spiritual and catechetical needs of the parish. They can be reached via their email and will continue to respond to phone calls and voicemails, as needed. If you have a pastoral emergency or need to get in touch with Fr. Sojan during this time, please call 682-509-0767.
- All parish activities, such as Confession and Adoration, are cancelled until further notice. The Church building will also be closed for personal prayer at this time. We encourage you to more deeply enter into prayer at home, along with your family, as the Bishop encouraged. You may find the List of Prayers During Time of Pandemic, compiled by the Diocese of Fort Worth, helpful.
- If you have an emergency Outreach Assistance need, you can contact Outreach at 817-488-5444. If you are over the age of 60, immunocompromised, or otherwise cannot leave your home for essentials over the coming weeks, please contact the Parish Office at 817-481-2685 and we will get you in touch with a Knight of Columbus to assist you.
- Please prayerfully consider setting up ONLINE GIVING for your weekly contributions to St. Francis parish, if at all possible. This will ensure we can continue to pay our staff, utilities, and meet our other budgetary needs in the coming weeks as we continue to serve our parish family physically and spiritually. We know this is a difficult time for everyone, but truly appreciate your support.
Please be assured of my continued prayers for you!
Fr. Sojan George
SENT MARCH 20, 2020 AT 2:30 PM
March 20, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
Yesterday afternoon, Governor Abbot issued an executive order for the State of Texas, and soon after, Bishop Olson sent another pastoral letter to the Diocese of Fort Worth.
As Bishop states, “The Governor of the State of Texas, the Honorable Greg Abbott, has issued an executive order with which we are to comply in carrying out our essential ministry as the Church. We should and must follow this mandate. Our intention and actions as the Church in North Texas must go beyond mere compliance but as established in the love for God and our neighbor (soul and body), as we go about the mission of salvation entrusted to us by Christ. The safety measures asked of us must be taken seriously as a way of expressing love for our neighbor. The calm with which we carry out our ministries, essential to the practice of our faith, will contribute to the common good of our society and assist even more in protecting the vulnerable during these times.”
Luckily, Bishop’s clarification/addition of Liturgical Adaptations (listed at the bottom of his letter) had already been put into place here at the parish. That being said, I would like to reiterate some aspects regarding Mass, Confession, and Prayer here at St. Francis:
- If you come to the Church to receive the Eucharist at our normal mass times (both weekend and daily), you MUST STAY IN YOUR CAR until an usher summons you forward to receive the Eucharist. At that time, you can come forward to receive the host IN YOUR HAND and return immediately to your car, leaving A MINIMUM OF 6 FEET between each person as you approach. As Bishop states, “This must be enforced for people to receive Holy Communion after either Sunday or after daily Mass.” Please do your part to ensure we don’t have to eliminate this in coming weeks.
- For the weekend Masses, Eucharist will be distributed at the locations marked on this map.
- Remember, during this time the obligation to attend Mass has been dispensed. As Bishop stated, “People over the age of 60 and those with chronic conditions that compromise immunity are reminded that they are STRONGLY advised to stay home because of their vulnerability to contagion.” The same would go for anyone who is ill or thinks they might have been exposed to COVID-19.
- If you come to the Church for Confession (Saturdays from 3-4:30pm), you MUST ENTER THROUGH THE NARTHEX AND WAIT THERE, WITH ONLY 10 PEOPLE PERMITTED INSIDE AT ANY TIME. We ask for your assistance with this process, only entering the building after someone leaves once the 10 person maximum is met. For ease and safety, Father will be hearing confessions (behind a screen) right inside the Church doors rather than inside our confessionals in the Chapel. Remember, a MINIMUM OF 6 FEET must be maintained between people at all times, even in line for Confession.
- If you come to the Church for Adoration or personal prayer, ONLY 10 PEOPLE WILL BE PERMITTED INSIDE THE SANCTUARY/CHAPEL AT ANY TIME. To help with this process, only the PARISH OFFICE ENTRANCE will be open so that we can monitor those coming and going more effectively.
- We will be Livestreaming the 5pm Saturday Evening Mass. You can watch it at sfatx.org/livestream. After that Mass, the video will remain viewable throughout the weekend so that you can watch it at your convenience.
If you have questions or concerns, feel free to call the Parish Office, which is currently open Monday – Thursday from 9am-5pm and Friday from 9am-noon.
In closing, let’s all take to heart the words of Bishop’s letter:
“Continue to pray daily for those who suffer from this pandemic in any way; pray also for our leaders, our military, our first responders, and for the poor.”
Fr. Sojan George
SENT MARCH 18, 2020 AT 4:30 PM
Dear Parish Family,
After consultation with the priests of the diocese and various civic officials, cooperating with them for the good of society, Bishop Olson has decided that while Mass will continue to be celebrated at the normally scheduled times throughout the Diocese of Fort Worth, they will be celebrated without a congregation physically present in the Church. This will begin tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Today’s 6pm Daily Mass will take place as normal (with the 125 person gathering size limit enforced).
Logistically here at St. Francis Catholic Church, the changes outlined in the above letter will be implemented in the following ways:
- Mass will be held on our normal Daily and Weekend Schedule, without a congregation present in the Church but with communion distributed outside. This means Monday, Thursday and Friday at 8:30am, Wednesday at 6pm, Saturday night at 5pm (this Mass will also be Livestreamed), and Sunday at 8am, 10am, 1pm (Spanish), and 4:30pm.
- If you were previously scheduled as a liturgical minister (server, reader, eucharistic minister, etc.), you do not need to report for your scheduled duty unless you are contacted by your ministry head or Fr. Sojan.
- During weekend Masses, Communion will be distributed outside at 2 stations, one by the Narthex Entrance and one by the North Portico Entrance. For daily Masses, Communion will only be distributed at the North Portico Entrance. Those wishing to receive communion should remain in their cars until they see the communion minister come outside (about 20-25 minutes after Mass begins). At that time, those wishing to receive communion can exit their cars, keeping a safe distance from each other, and approach to receive communion in their hands.
- We encourage anyone who does not physically come to the Church to receive Jesus in the Eucharist to join with us by praying the Act of Spiritual Communion.
- Collection Baskets for weekly contributions will be available as attendees come forward to receive communion. We ask our entire parish community to continue to support St. Francis Church, either by dropping your contribution in the baskets as you come forward, mailing or bringing in a check, or Giving Online through FaithDirect. Our parishioners’ generosity in this time will allow us to continue to minister spiritually and physically to those in need in the coming months.
- St. Francis of Assisi will offer a Live Stream of our 5pm Saturday Mass for parishioners to watch at sfatx.org/livestream. This livestreamed Mass video (with a homily from Fr. Sojan) will then also be available for viewing all weekend, so that you can watch it at your convenience Saturday evening or Sunday. Therefore, if you choose to come to Mass to receive the Eucharist, there is no expectation that you be watching the livestream in our parking lot while you wait, but instead you could do it another time at home, if you prefer. We will also provide a list of additional live stream resources, especially in Spanish and for Daily Mass, at that link.
In addition to these changes regarding Mass, the following other updates will take place:
- The Church will remain open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm for personal prayer. Please remember to keep a safe distance from others who may be praying.
- Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Adoration will be held Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
- Confession will be offered in the Chapel (behind a screen) from 3:00 – 4:30 pm on Saturdays.
- The Parish Office front desk will be staffed Monday – Thursday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and on Friday from 9:00 am – noon.
- Our St. Francis Outreach building will be closed during this time but will take emergency calls for assistance, including Food Pantry needs. They can be reached at 817-488-5444. If you would like to help our neighbors in need by donating to Outreach at this time, we are most in need of Walmart/Grocery Store Gift Cards in $20 denominations. Please drop them off or mail them to our parish office. You can also donate online directly to our Outreach Fund.
- All other events and ministry gatherings at St. Francis of Assisi Parish are cancelled until further notice, including Stations of the Cross.
Please contact the Parish Office if you have any questions or concerns. Be assured of our continued prayers in this time of uncertainty!
Fr. Sojan George
SENT MARCH 13, 2020 AT 9:30PM
Dear Parish Family,
The Diocese of Fort Worth and our parish have continued to monitor the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Bishop Michael F. Olson released a new statement this evening with updated guidelines for Mass and parish activities.
Per Tarrant County’s emergency declaration of limiting gatherings to 250 people or less, and Bishop Olson’s compliance with said directive, St. Francis of Assisi Parish has added Sunday masses for the next few weekends to accommodate this restriction.
The Mass Schedule will be as follows (effective through Palm Sunday, April 5):
1 p.m. (Spanish)
2:30 p.m. (Spanish)
Remember the gathering size is limited to 250 people, and this will be enforced. All the weekend Masses during this period of crisis will be without music, and hymnals will be removed from the Church. Saturday evening confessions will continue to be held from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. with only confession behind the screen offered.
The following updates will also be made to upcoming parish events:
- The Parish Lenten Mission (set for March 16-18) is cancelled
- The Lenten Parish Reconciliation Service (set for March 30) is cancelled
- The Knights of Columbus Fish Frys are also canceled for the remainder of Lent.
As I have stated in my previous notes regarding this situation, Bishop Olson reiterates the importance of using your best judgement in attending Mass, stating:
“I urge our faithful to use their judgement in consideration of their neighbor in determining whether to attend Mass. People who are sick, who exhibit contagious symptoms, or who are particularly vulnerable to the transmission of the virus are dispensed as always in charity from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. If you’re sick, don’t come to Mass. Those who are caretakers of the sick and vulnerable are dispensed as always. To stay home from Sunday Mass in these circumstances is not a mortal sin. In fact, love for our neighbor should prompt each of us not to attend Mass if we are contagious or exhibiting symptoms. Those who are sick should notify their parish for prayers and for ministry.”
Fr. Sojan George
SENT MARCH 13, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As some of you may have heard, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD made the decision earlier today to cancel school through March 27th. With this in mind, we have decided here at St. Francis of Assisi to make the following updates to activities:
- All youth catechesis, including PK-6 and Middle and High School Young Church will be cancelled through March 27. Classes will resume on Sunday, March 29.
- The St. Francis Preschool and Little Hands Enrichment & Exploration Programs will be closed during this time. Classes will resume Tuesday, March 31.
- Nursery/childcare services during both Masses and any ministry activities is suspended and will not be available until Sunday, March 29.
- The Knights of Columbus Fish Fry and Stations of the Cross set will continue as planned at this time.
- The Lenten Mission, set for next Monday-Wednesday March 16-18, will proceed as planned at this time.
- All parish ministries can make their own decisions about their ministry events/activities continuing at this time.
- The “Protecting God’s Children for Adults” class scheduled for Saturday, March 14, will proceed as planned.
- The parish offices and church will remain open with normal business hours.
- Our St. Francis Outreach is closed through Tuesday, March 31.
- Most importantly, all Masses, Confessions, and Adoration will continue at this time.
As I sent out in my statement yesterday, I want to reiterate that if you are not feeling well or are experiencing symptoms of illness, please stay home. If you are sick, you are not bound by the obligation to attend Mass, including on Sunday. Out of charity to others, individuals feeling ill or who think they may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) should not attend Mass or other parish-wide events.
Along with the Diocese of Fort Worth, we will continue to keep an eye on the situation and will send out further communication when/if needed.
Fr. Sojan George
SENT MARCH 12, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
Here at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church we are like family. Our priority is to keep our parishioners safe and healthy, just like you do with your own family. But as Bishop Olson reminds us, “The Eucharist is a sacrament of Charity above all else. We are bound together in the love of God and for our neighbor whenever we celebrate and receive the Eucharist as God’s people.”
You can read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter for his full statement.
As the days progress, St. Francis Parish will take into consideration the decisions made by the Diocese of Fort Worth, civil and health officials, and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, which we typically follow for other closures, such as weather. For the time being, all activities at the parish remain unaffected and will proceed as planned. We will send an additional announcement when/if that changes.
In the meantime, we have taken the following steps to help ensure the health and safety of our parishioners as best as possible:
- Our evening cleaning crew is being extra diligent in disinfecting all surfaces, especially those high-traffic surfaces like door handles, light switches, pew railings, and bathrooms.
- Per the Diocesan Directive sent on January 10, we have made several Liturgical Adaptations, including encouraging the faithful to not hold hands during the Our Father, suspending the distribution of the Precious Blood, and suspending handshakes during the Sign of Peace.
- We are following the suggestions outlined in the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter sent earlier today, including emptying the holy water from all fonts around the Church and placing hand sanitizer at the entrances.
You can assist us in helping to keep our parish facilities as clean as possible by washing your hands thoroughly and frequently. You may find “How to Hand Wash Catholic Style!” (put out by the Diocese of Dallas) as a helpful tool.
Most importantly, if you are not feeling well or are experiencing symptoms of illness, please stay home. If you are sick, you are not bound by the obligation to attend Mass, including on Sunday. Out of charity to others, individuals feeling ill should not attend Mass or other liturgical events.
If you feel that you may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), please abstain from Mass and other events to help protect other members of our parish community, especially the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, and the immunocompromised. We encourage our entire parish community to use their best judgement, along with the recommendations of the CDC, in determining their personal participation in parish-wide activities.
Above all else, we place our trust in God in this time of uncertainty and anxiety and encourage our parish family to do the same. For as Paul reminds us in his Letter to the Philippians, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4: 6-7).
Be assured of our prayers for you and our entire community over the coming weeks.
Fr. Sojan George