Browsing From the desk of Fr. Tharp

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Why are Catholic Churches obeying Health Department Orders


I have been asked by some, “Why don’t we go ahead and gather for Mass regardless of the Governor’s or Health Department’s rules?”   As Catholics, the “copout” answer is that this is a decision made for us by the Bishops of Ohio or the bishop of each diocese.   The bishops base this decision on firm moral principles such as the Golden Rule.  Avoiding a situation where medical experts tell us one infected person can unwittingly infect and possible bring death to another or many others is practical Christian morality 101 and a supreme act of fraternal charity.   In other words, the bishops are trying their best to cooperate with civil authority experts, do what is morally right, and protect the public good.   


On a financial level; almost every insurance company (or in the case of the Archdiocese, every reinsurance company) issues a list of “exclusions” to add specificity to what is covered and not covered in every policy.  Reinsurers writing excess coverage “follow form,” so the exclusions become part of every layer of coverage.  If the insured is engaging in activity specifically prohibited under civil, criminal, or municipal law (such as violating a Governor’s or Health Department’s order) coverage almost certainly will be forfeited.  I don’t think you will find any Catholic Bishop or Catholic Priest Pastor who will feel comfortable “going bare” (i.e. without insurance coverage) at a time like this in today’s litigious society.  Even one major claim could spell the end of the presence of the Catholic Church in that civil jurisdiction.  


Sunday Mass live streamed and recording available on Website


At the time of the printing of this bulletin (Monday, April 27), the “stay at home order” continues to be in effect in Ohio.   At this time, I do not know if the authorities will allow regular Masses to take place next weekend or not!   If the stay at home order remains in effect for May 10, please consider worshipping with me by either tuning in for Mass at 5:00 p.m., live-streamed (in real time) from Sacred Heart (we cannot live-stream as yet from St. Ann until we can get WIFI in the building) or tuning in after the live streaming for the recording of the Mass which was live streamed earlier.  At St. Ann, we will pre-record and post on our Pastoral Region Youtube site, the Sunday Morning Mass for viewing anytime on Sunday Morning after 8:00 a.m. or anytime thereafter.  For the duration of the quarantine, we will live-stream the Sunday Mass at 5:00 p.m. every Saturday from one of our two parish locations.  The Mass is automatically recorded for viewing at any time after the live-streaming is complete.


Remember that you can access our Pastoral Region Youtube page by clicking on same from either parish website.  Since both our parish websites are hosted by our Bulletin Company, and since many parishes are live-streaming at the same time, the websites have sometimes crashed from sheer volume.  The best way to assure that your connection will not crash is to go directly to the Pastoral Region of Sacred Heart and St. Ann Youtube page.  You can access this site by highlighting and (control + clicking) the following address:  Make our site one of your “bookmarks” on your computer, pad, or phone. There you can immediately access any past Masses or anything currently being live streamed.  


Please also remember to click on the grey box at the top of our page entitledsubscribe.”  It is free, and by doing this you become an official subscriber to our Youtube webpage.  If we can get at least one thousand subscribers, we will be able to post personal device recordings like daily Mass and prayer services which we cannot post until we have more than one thousand subscribers.   This would be very beneficial to us.  Subscribing to our site for free does not mean you are subscribing to Youtube and all its benefits “for free” you are simply identifying yourself as a subscriber to our webpage.  




For the time being, I will continue to have individual confessions at the published times at Sacred Heart, unless or until the authorities prohibit them.  Saturday afternoon confessions at St. Ann will be only 15 minutes, from 3:30 p.m. until only 3:45 p.m.  If and when public Masses resume, I will hear confessions before Sunday Masses on the Sundays I have Masses at St. Ann.  We will have to follow the abbreviated schedule for Saturday confessions at St. Ann until we can find a priest willing to take them every week.


RCIA Candidates and Catechumens


The Archdiocese has decided that baptisms, confirmations, and first communions for the RCIA will take place on Pentecost Eve.  More to come.


Rescheduled Events


The First Communion at both St. Ann and Sacred Heart are postponed until we are certain as to when we are permitted to resume public Masses, and under what ongoing restrictions we may have to operate.  Similarly, because of the uncertainty as to the plan the authorities will implement, those who conduct our annual Pastoral Region Vacation Bible School (VBS) have decided to cancel.  As for other things previously scheduled in May, June and July, (like graduations, weddings, baptisms, etc.)  I simply do not know at this time.  As soon as I know what the Governor prescribes, and I have the official directives from the Catholic Bishops, I will inform you by email blast immediately, and then explain more fully in the next parish bulletin.  


Reflection on Scripture for the Fourth Sunday of Easter  


Jesus says, “I am the gate for the sheep.”  In other words, Jesus says, “If you ‘buy the sheep analogy’ and see yourself as a helpless sheep confined to the corral of the world; I am your only way out.”  Jesus is not saying he is the most convenient gate or the most easily accepted gate.  He is the only gate.


To follow the analogy farther, sheep get pushed around all the time.  They are afraid of wolves.  Even a stray domestic dog can set off a sheep twice his size to run until his or her cardiovascular system fails from the strain.   They are not the brightest bulbs on the tree!  They easily can be led to the slaughter by a “Judas goat.”  Sheep seem to hate the experience of being left out in the cold when humans cut off their wool.   Through all this, they are herd animals so they are genetically predisposed to run away as an unwitting deserter.  There is no thought to it.  Sheep like most her animals operate on pure instinct.  Sadly, humans often exhibit similar characteristics.  


Jesus IS a Good Shepherd!  He is NO Judas goat!   But like a GOOD shepherd, Jesus does not drive us like cattle into the corral of Heaven.  He gently leads us because we know and trust him.  Silly sheep we may sometimes appear to be, in the final analysis, we won’t follow anyone we don’t trust.  On Divine Mercy Sunday (two weeks ago) our mantra was, “Jesus, I trust in you.”  In a world filled with charlatans and scoundrels, the only sure anchor, the only sure thing, is Jesus Christ.  


Next WeekFifth Sunday of Easter    


Acts 6:1-7

1 Pt. 2:4-9

John 14:1-12


Theme: “I have a place for you in the Kingdom of God.”


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