Posted on: September 5, 2020
Fair & Equal Michigan Petition
In 1976, the State of Michigan enacted the Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act. In effect, the law prohibits discrimination based on a person’s religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, and familial or marital status. There’s a group now called, Fair and Equal Michigan, who is circulating a state-wide petition to re-define what “sex” in Elliott-Larson means. That is, to expand its meaning beyond gender to “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” and would reduce the definition of religion to the “religious beliefs of an individual” thus reducing the current understanding under the law.
The Catholic Church teaches that all persons are made in the image of likeness of God and are to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their orientation or identity (ccc 2358). The Fair and Equal Michigan petition would go well beyond how we treat one another.
The Catholic bishops of Michigan have asked us not to sign the petition because the petition offers no protections for religious institutions, especially schools, charity agencies, and healthcare entities. It would impact athletic programs and community services. Also, to diminish the definition of religion would not allow us to exercise our deeply-held faith beliefs in the public square by providing no protections for faith-based actions or speech.
I share these thoughts from the bishops of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference for your information along with the Q and A insert in the Pulse today, so that you can make an informed decision if someone should approach you with the petition.
Again, the bishops of Michigan urge you not to sign the petition.
God bless all of you, Father Duane!
Posted on: August 22, 2020
Mass Attendance - COVID19
As the summer continues to wear on, our country and state is still dealing with the pandemic. We all are feeling a sense of frustration with the way our lives have been altered. As a priest and pastor, I too am saddened that we cannot be the community we once were. I can’t help but think of all we worked for as priests to help our communities grow in the understanding of the liturgy in these past decades which now seems to be wiped out overnight; for example, active participation in said and sung responses during the liturgy. Now we can only speak quietly into our masks. Forming ourselves to look like a community by sitting together. Now we have to be distanced from one another. Just when everyone not only enjoyed the Peace Greeting, but looked forward to it, we can only nod to each other from six feet away. Sharing in the common cup of the Blood of Christ ministered by Eucharistic Ministers seems so long ago.
But what is now most disturbing is Mass attendance, keeping holy the Lord’s Day, the Third Commandment of the Decalogue. Just when we were building attendance and participation at St. Matthew’s, we are down to 30 / 35 participants at each Mass.
I know that people are worried, and I know that we have had a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass given by our Archbishop to September 6. Now that the dispensation has been extended to November 23, through the Feast of Christ the King, my greatest fear is that people may get used to not attending and will choose not to come back. I ask you, please do not make that mistake. Attendance is important.
Faith is sustained best in the company of others. A faith community is still what we are about. In fact, we are specifically a Eucharistic Community. To distance ourselves from the reception of Communion is a loss to us all. I know that many are viewing the Mass for Shut-ins, or “live-streaming”, but it is just not the same. The decision to extend the dispensation into November is a prudent and practical response to the crisis. However, it is dramatic and not to be taken lightly. We still have a responsibility to keep holy the Lord’s Day. Some for obvious reasons of underlying conditions; i.e., old age, terminal illness, breathing or mobility issues, may not be able to attend but to all others I do encourage you not to distance yourself too long from the liturgy.
We are safe here. Masks are required, hand sanitizer is available, social distancing is practiced; and we still have plenty of room. I do miss so many of you; but most of all, I’m concerned that with the extension of the dispensation we will not have seen each other or worshiped together for almost a year. This is not good for a Eucharistic Community. I would encourage you to come back as often or as soon as you can.
But no matter what happens, please keep the day holy by refraining from activities that may be more risky than going to church. If you feel well enough to go to a restaurant, visit with friends, or attend small gatherings, you should seriously consider returning to Mass. Above all, keep the day holy by reading spiritual material, praying the Scriptures, or meditate on the mystery of the Lord’s life. Pray for a quick end to this pandemic and above all pray for the strength to follow the prescribed recommendations so that the pandemic can be brought under control.
Know that I pray for you in weekday Masses and will continue to do so until we celebrate the Lord’s Day again in full community!
God bless all of you,
Posted on: August 15, 2020
Petition to End Dismemberment Abortion
It was disheartening to receive word at the end of July from the Michigan Catholic Conference that our efforts here at St. Matthew’s and across the state, through the Michigan Values Life Petition Initiative, to end dismemberment abortion came to a disappointing conclusion. The petition gathered more than 400,000 signatures. After a thorough review, 379,419 signatures were presumed to be valid. The law required 340,047 valid signatures. When submitted for verification to the Secretary of State, an initial sample of 500 signatures was challenged by Planned Parenthood, with Right to Life counter-challenging thus triggering a second larger sample pulled by the Board of Canvassers.
This, too, was challenged, and too many signatures were deemed invalid. Dor example, some signers were unaware that they were not registered voters, some signed twice. As a result, the petition could not be certified, and the citizen-initiated legislation could not go before the legislature.
As difficult as it is to see our efforts dashed, it does indicate by the interest and dedication of workers and signers that there is a strong pro-life witness.
We prayerfully look forward to the day when we can be successful in the ongoing effort to protect human life.
I personally want to thank Mr. David Gross for taking up this task at St. Matthew and for the work he did in coordinating our portion of the signature campaign.
God bless all of you,
Posted on: August 8, 2020
Families of Parishes
On Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020, as our churches were beginning
to open after the pandemic shutdown, Archbishop Vigneron announced
that the Archdiocese of Detroit was going to be re-structured into groupings of parishes known as “Families of Parishes” (FoP). Due to dwindling resources both financially and the number of priests in the diocese, he feels this is necessary. The problem was to be addressed by the “Missionary Strategic Plan” each parish was to develop. However, due to the pandemic, the problems he stated were exacerbated, and he felt something must be done immediately. In this model, parishes will work toward sharing resources and priests. Priests would now be assigned to a Family of Parishes.
The creation of FoP is to be fully implemented within two years in two separate “waves.” The groupings of parishes are being talked about now among AoD leadership and parishes. Let me say at this time, no groups have been finalized. Pastors, in dialogue with other pastors, are making recommendations to the AoD through our vicars based on what would be a good and organic fit. The one- to two- year waves and full implementation are ambitious given the great change that will occur throughout the diocese. But, discussions are ongoing.
Some recommendations have been floated in our area, but they are not final; and, you should not take some of what you hear as the final word until the final word comes from me in conversation with the diocese.
I want to keep you informed as to what the leadership of St. Matthew’s is thinking, and what we have recommended to our vicar, Fr. Mario Amore, and the AoD. To that end, I am publishing the letter I sent to our vicar. I think it is clear as to what we are thinking, and what would be our best relationship for a Family of Parishes.
I will keep you informed as more develops. Please keep the church of Detroit in your prayers and especially our St. Matthew Parish.
My letter follows below
God bless all of you!
July 30, 2020
Reverend Mario Amore, Administrator
St. Aloysius Parish
1234 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226
Dear Father Amore;
After much conversation with pastors and my Parish Leadership and Parish Pastoral Council, St. Matthew Parish would strongly recommend that we would create the Family of Parishes comprised of St. Clare of Montefalco, St. Matthew, and St. Ambrose.
I have been in discussion with Fathers Tim Pelc and Andrew Kowalczyk, and both are open and agree to such an arrangement. The rationale for this is simple and two-fold. One, we have an historical connection. For years, we were all part of the Detroit/Grosse Pointe Vicariate. With the “redrawing” of vicariate borders in 2009, St. Matthew, by virtue of its Detroit address, was separated from the parishes that were organically related to us. St. Matthew draws most of its parishioner base from the Grosse Pointes and other suburban communities, as do these other two parishes.
Secondly, St. Matthew still has an ongoing relationship with St. Clare as we share program resources with St. Clare; i.e., our RCIA candidates attend their program, and I teach several of these sessions at their request. St. Clare utilizes our gymnasium, we share the talent of an organist, we have shared a maintenance engineer, we partner with St. Clare on the community outreach work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. St. Clare draws many students for their school from the St. Matthew Parish territory. St. Matthew parishioners have attended and supported the St. Clare School. Parishioners from both parishes feel comfortable attending liturgy and programs at each parish.
St. Ambrose Parish has historically been supported by St. Matthew in that their events are always promoted at St. Matthew, and our parishioners respond and attend their events like the OysterFest, Friday Fish Fry, etc., and St. Ambrose supports our events as well, i.e., our Gold’n Harvest Raffle and Jazz Nite Dinner Dance. In short, we support
each other in our fundraising efforts.
These three parishes have similar liturgical styles, a similar vision of forming community, and being about the mission of Evangelization.
Although St. Matthew would be crossing vicariate lines, we feel the border is artificial and has not really worked well for us. In fact, St. Matthew Parish has very little connection or organic relationship with Detroit parishes to the west and south. Point in fact, St. Matthew attempted a merge relationship with St. Jude Parish in 2012/2013. I must say it was an unmitigated disaster. The relationship never came to be.
In conclusion, we respectfully submit this summary and Family of Parishes Model to you for consideration. Having to adjust to the new reality, we keep clearly in mind that the transition and restructuring will be difficult in itself at various levels; we do not need to create an additional problem by placing St. Matthew with parishes we are unfamiliar with and with which we have no relationship.
If you have any questions or concerns with this proposal, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Reverend Duane R. Novelly
cc: Rev. Timothy Pelc, Pastor
St. Ambrose Parish
Rev. Andrew Kowalczyk, CSMA, Pastor
St. Clare of Montefalco Parish
Posted on: July 13, 2020
Update from Fr. Duane
We have been back for seven weeks now since the Pandemic shutdown. Having started public Masses on Pentecost, we have seen parishioners return to celebrate the Eucharist, praying and worshiping our Lord, and breaking open the Scriptures through readings and homiletic reflections, albeit in a different atmosphere what with social distancing, hand sanitizing, and masks. But, it is working well, and there is still plenty of room even while maintaining our social distance. We have the capacity to accommodate approximately 100 people for Mass maintaining distance. However, we have only 30 to 35 attending at each Mass.
I write today to encourage those who can attend, to please return (with proper protocols). And I would encourage you to speak to others to let them know St. Matthew Parish is a safe environment to worship our God. I certainly know that the "official" dispensation from the obligation is extended through September 6th. But, if you have no underlying conditions, please come and join us again. I know when we first returned on Pentecost, it felt a little different. But we soon adjusted; and now with the exception of the protocols, it feels comfortable and good again to renew our spirituality in community. Virtual Masses, or Masses for Shut-ins are good, but nothing replaces the Real Thing! I do hope you pass the word we are open. We have room, and we are safe!
On another note, due to COVID-19, CSA in its usual format has been postponed until September. We will through the Archdiocese take up the pledge drive with communication beginning in August. I invite you to review our CSA figures from last year in the Pulse today. They were fantastic, you were great! I am so appreciative.
We would like to do that well again, and I will be sending each of you a letter indicating what we and the Parish Council would like to do this year. There will be a change due to COVID-19 in that the pledge drive will not happen at the local parish but will be conducted through the AoD. Therefore, there will be less paperwork and less contact for our personal protection. In advance, I ask everyone to participate as you did last year. It will mean so much to the parish.
Enjoy the summer. I hope and pray all stay healthy!
God bless all of you, Father Duane
Posted on: May 29, 2020
Welcome Back, Welcome Home!
After 11 weeks of not gathering together, we are finally back. Albeit, under somewhat different circumstances. But praise be to God for this moment! In these past weeks, I have prayed for your safety and I hope my prayer was answered. We still want to be safe in the midst of this unprecedented virus that can take our lives so quickly. For this reason, the recommended precautions have been put in place at St. Matthew's. It will be different and perhaps difficult as we move through this gradual re-opening. But it brings us closer to who we want to be, a community "Gathering" in the name of the Lord.
For all these weeks, I have been writing in The Pulse that has been published online on our website. I know many of you may not have been able to read The Pulse or my articles because of a lack of access to the internet or a computer. I tried in these articles to encourage us along the spiritual journey and not give up hope. I, too, made a point to raise you as a community in prayer each day for your protection, your health, and well-being, and in thanksgiving for your constant faithfulness. (We do have limited copies of these editions of The Pulse. If you would like any week, please let us know. Again, they are limited. Also, you may view archived issues of The Pulse on our website...back to November 2017!)
With the re-opening of public Masses, we will not necessarily be open for regular activity yet. This is still to be determined as to how we will conduct meetings, ministry, and so forth. Having said that, weekday Masses will once again be celebrated on June 2nd with our regular schedule on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Of course, all social distancing and masks will be required as well as protocols of Sunday. Again, I want to stress if you feel vulnerable or have an underlying condition, it might be prudent to re-think your attendance.
Over these weeks, I have raised the question, not so much as to why this all happened to society, but rather what have we or will we learn from it. I think it is a good question that we all should ask ourselves. Personally, I reflected on how quickly the pace of our life changed. We were a society running from thing to thing, event to event, need to need, and all of a sudden the only thing that seemed important was our own health. If I learn nothing else from this experience, it is that there are really only a few things that are important in life.
First, how much we depend on God for our protection, health, and well-being. Didn't we all pray fervently for our safety, even as we walked into a grocery store? Secondly, how much we need each other and not to take each other for granted. Away from family and friends, we realized how closely tied we are. Thirdly, how important is our freedom to be able to come and go as we please. With the limits placed upon us, we cannot be fully human, fully alive. Lastly, how delicate life is! Maybe society will learn to be kinder, gentler, and more respectful of one another. Well, we can only hope. We can only pray the world learns from this experience as ongoing as it is.
God bless you!
Posted on: May 22, 2020
Protocol for Returning to Mass
“The Lord be with you!.....And with your Spirit!”
These familiar words will once again be heard in public. With the returning to public Masses, we will once again as a community be able to praise God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and for the salvation He has won for us. As we prepare for this celebration of the Liturgy / Mass, it will look and feel different from when we last gathered on March 8, 2020, eleven weeks ago.
Throughout society, we have been practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and good hygiene. This will also be a part of our gathering with additional protocols that are required for a religious service. These protocols come from the Archdiocese of Detroit as recommended by the CDC.
I ask your cooperation with what we will implement and to please be patient with one another, with yourself, and respectful of the protocols that you are being asked to abide by. Having said this, I would like to indicate what you will expect and experience when we return on Pentecost Sunday, May 30 and May 31, 2020.
I know this seems like a lot and certainly it is not what we are used to, but these are unprecedented times, not just for us but for the Universal Church. God will get us through this quickly, I hope. But in the meantime, we must ease into our re-opening for the safety of all.
It is an act of charity to care for each other in this way. We would not want the beauty and mystery of the Eucharistic liturgy in any way to compromise our health or be the reason our community members should suffer.
We pray through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Lourdes, patroness of health and healing, that God the Father will give us strength to endure, courage to preserve, and hope for the future. God bless you.
Posted on: May 9, 2020
In the Liturgy of the Hours (sometimes called the priest's breviary), the opening strope for morning and even- ing prayer is "Oh, God, come to my assistance, Oh, Lord make haste to help me." These particular words seem to hold so much meaning for me during this pandemic. As I pray them, I keep you in my thoughts. As a community, as a society, we need God's help and assistance as we move through these difficult times, "Oh Lord, make haste to help us."
Sometimes, this help comes in various ways. One is the kindness and generosity of parishioners who are continuing their offertory contribution by envelope and online giving. Thanks for sending it in. Please keep up the good work; it will help us make it through this pandemic.
Also, I want to thank for their generosity those parishioners who helped me after my surgery with meals and food dropped off at the rectory. You have been so kind to me. I do keep healing; although at 11 weeks, it is still a slow process.
I also want to encourage you, as difficult as it is, to continue to adhere and cooperate with the social restrictions placed upon us. I know it is challenging, these times are so strange; but even theologically, we adhere to legitimate authority be it in ecclesial or civil forum. It is for our own good and for the good of others. We might say that there is a spiritual dimension in that we show that by following the rules, we are a charitable people. Not caring just for ourselves but for the good or the wider community.
There is always a tension in our democratic society between the individual and the community. However, the government, the state, can have a reasonable interest in protecting the lives of citizens by asking for a period of quarantine. To keep us sheltered for a sustained but not permanent time is completely legitimate when the results of not doing so could result in the death of thousands.
To this end, church authority has the responsibility to co- operate with civil authority. Thereby, it does not impede our religious freedom if the prohibition on gathering is not a permanent practice. Of course, we know that this is temporary; and in the future, we will be back together again. Everyone including the state desires this. However, it may look different when we return.
Last week, the priests had a video conference with Arch- bishop Vigneron and some preliminary precautions are being discussed for when public Masses will resume. This has not been completely spelled out, but we must be prepared to cooperate. It is not only our civic duty but our ecclesial (church) duty as well. With these thoughts of encouragement and gratitude, we continue to pray, "Oh Lord, make haste to help us."
God bless all of you!
Posted on: May 2, 2020
The "stay home, stay safe" order is still in effect. I hope that everyone is doing fine. I want to remind you to please keep saying your prayers. Pray for those who have been effect- ed by this pandemic through sickness, personal exposure, and even death. I feel so sorry that so many people had to give their lives in the face of this COVID virus. Pray especially for the church throughout the world, our country, our diocese, and our parish. We will definitely have a challenge before us as we attempt at a future date to "re-open."
Religious communities by their nature are about gathering (we even refer to the opening rites of our liturgy as "gathering" rites), and we will have to see how this will occur with the threat of the coronavirus still over us. I have been praying daily for the church and for you. My only hope is that we will come through this.
Of course, many adjustments are being made in the meantime. Most regretful is not gathering for Sunday Mass. In turn, that effects many things. For one, the communication we have between us. Yes, technology is one way, but nothing can substitute for seeing one another and feeling the people's presence. Also, a direct appeal for events always seems to bring a better response. For this reason and for not being able to organize ourselves in a proper way, the Archdiocese has postponed the Catholic Services Appeal until the fall. We hope as a parish to be successful, perhaps, like last year, so that it can offset the funding losses we suffered this year due to the cancellation of "Jazz Nite."
I know I've mentioned it before, but just to keep it ever in front of us, please remember to send in your contributions by mail or online. The bills keep coming in. Heat, electricity, and water still have to be paid. Thanks to all who have remembered.
On a final note, don't let your absence from church effect your relationship with the Lord. We need Him more than ever, and I'm sure He hasn't forgotten us. It may seem like it, but He hasn't; and in the end, the good Lord through His wisdom will give to those good doctors, nurses, and researchers the strength and knowledge to come up with a treatment and vaccine. There has been throughout history terrible times that humanity has had to deal with, and we know that God has been with us through it all. He will not and has not abandoned us. Stay safe, stay healthy.
God bless all of you,