UPDATES CONCERNING COVID-19 AND LITURGICAL SERVICES

Beloved St. Nicholas Family,

These are not normal times. And we will get through them.

In light of the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael has directed us and all parishes of the Metropolis of Chicago to suspend all liturgical services until further notice.

Likewise, all gatherings – meetings, festival baking sessions, anything that involves people coming together in church or elsewhere – have been canceled. The Metropolitan’s directive can be found on the Metropolis website here.

In an online conference with the Metropolis clergy today, His Eminence emphasized that he made this decision reluctantly, heeding the recommendations of epidemiologists and public-health officials. His primary concern – which we share – is for the well-being of our own parishioners and to act responsibly to our broader community by cutting down on the opportunities for this highly contagious virus to spread between people.

So, for the time being, we will not have services. But we will find ways to maintain our community ties. The Internet provides powerful tools to connect people; this is our opportunity to learn how to use them more effectively. We ask that any parishioner who has specific suggestions about ways we can apply this technology effectively please contact us – especially if you can help make it happen!

Meanwhile, we will continue to provide pastoral care for our parishioners who are sick and otherwise in need on a personal basis. Don’t hesitate to call us or the church office in time of need.

There are a number of unanswered questions. We don’t know, for example, what form Holy Week will take this year. Almost certainly, it will be scaled back, but to what extent, we can only guess. Likewise, a lot of our spring activities may have to take different forms, but we can’t make any firm decisions until we see how this pandemic progresses in our community and in our country.

In light of this uncertainty, we ask several things of you:

·         Please be patient with the situation, which seems to change every day or two. We will communicate any changes with you as soon as we know them.

·         Use the time to work on your personal and family prayer life. Even if we aren’t gathering in the church, we can pray at home. In the days ahead, we’ll try to provide resources to help in this regard.

·         Follow the advice of public-health officials and our Metropolitan: avoid gatherings of people as much as possible. This includes going to other churches, even Orthodox parishes, that continue to hold services. In this pandemic, the best way to “be our brothers’ keepers”, as we’re called to be, is to reduce the opportunities for the virus to spread, and that means avoiding gatherings of people whenever we can.

·         Reach out to those who are shut-in or alone; this time is likely to be particularly difficult to them.  Although in-person visits aren’t recommended, especially for the elderly, you can contact them by phone, card or email; it’s likely to mean a great deal to them.

·         Continue to the church financially. This crisis is bound to have a financial impact on the parish, but your continued support can help us get through it without disrupting our ministries any more than the situation demands.

With God’s help, we will get through this difficult time as a community. We are already looking forward to the joyful celebration that we’ll have when we can come together again as a parish family. In the meantime, please pray for the well being for all our parishioners and everyone in our broader community. Add take heart in a loving God who stays with us even in the most trying times.

 

With love in Christ,

Father Doug and Father Michael