Statement regarding COVID-19 (Updated: 4/2/2020 at 11:00am)

LATEST UPDATE: 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.”

Read Bishop Olson’s Pastoral Letter here.

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.

God bless,

Fr. Sojan George
Pastor

 

 

SENT MARCH 24, 2020 AT 5:00PM

[EN ESPAÑOL]

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!

In Christ,

Fr. Sojan George
Pastor


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.

You can read Bishop Olson’s Pastoral Letter here.

You can read Governor Abbott’s Executive Order here.

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.”

In Christ,

Fr. Sojan George
Pastor


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).

Read Bishop Olson’s full pastoral letter here. [en Español]

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!

In Christ,

Fr. Sojan George
Pastor


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.

You can read the Bishop’s full statement here.

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):

SATURDAY (Anticipatory):
5:00 p.m.
6:30 p.m.

SUNDAY:
8 a.m.
10 a.m.
11:30 a.m.
1 p.m. (Spanish)
2:30 p.m. (Spanish)
4:30 p.m.

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.”

In Christ,

Fr. Sojan George
Pastor


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.

In Christ,

Fr. Sojan George
Pastor


 

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.

In Christ,

Fr. Sojan George
Pastor