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Letter to the Parishioners of St Thérèse, Edenvale

4 May 2020

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Dear Parishioners of St Thérèse, Edenvale

I hope you are well and finding sufficient spiritual nourishment during this time. We are into the 6th week of lockdown, with a little ease of movement at our level 4. According to the restrictions, religious activities will only resume at “level zero”; that is, when level 1 is lifted.

For many of you the desire to be physically present at Mass is overwhelming. We are incomplete without our encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. When we are physically together in his name; we complete the Body of Christ. As priests we too long for the moment when we can gather around the altar of the Lord with you. Please continue to participate in the spiritual communion that is on offer online; but don’t get used to it – it is not the normal for our sacramental worship. And most of all don’t get used to not attending the Sunday Mass! To the online resources we also recommend the live daily Mass with Pope Francis at 7am (www.vatican.va). The Masses are recorded and kept on Vatican website.

It is a good time to recall the first foundations of the church. The early church was a domestic church. The first generation of Christians met in their homes; in their homes they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. The daily readings during the Easter Season remind us of this. Over the past 2000 years our Church as endured many pandemics and diseases. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we have always (and will always) endure such and will emerge with renewed faith, hope and love. May your homes have a space where you can gather in prayer in the power of the Spirit.

The Pope emphasised the importance of prayer at this difficult time. He said he had accepted a proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity that on this coming 14 May, “believers of all religions should unite spiritually for a day of prayer and fasting, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic.”

In my community at the Oblate Provincial House there are four of us, three priests and a Brother. And next to us is the Novitiate community, with 11 novices and the Novice Master. We remember you at our daily Mass and prayers. The parish administration continues some of its work, capturing the data from the last parish census; improving the website and trying to ensure that there is a cash flow in the current account to pay monthly expenses and subscriptions. With regard to the latter, some utilities bills have reduced a little; but we still have to pay salaries, some subscriptions and stop orders (mostly donations to charities). We are grateful that the Archdiocese understands the situation and is not demanding the payment of monthly levies. The parish has set up a Snap Scan facility on its Facebook page for those who can donate using cell phone banking (www.facebook.com/st.therese.edenvale/). The Snap Scan will also be added to the parish website when it is up and running. We are grateful to those who continue to use EFT to make their offerings to the parish.

Sadly a few more parishioners have passed away without the possibility of a proper funeral at this time. Many families are opting for cremation and to wait for a Requiem Mass once the lockdown is lifted. Please do not hesitate to contact us in your need.

Prof Salim Abdool Karim (South African Epidemiologist and Infectious Diseases Specialist) says that we should not get worried that the infections are going up. There is a lot more testing taking place. The reduced restrictions would mean that the infections would also go up. We are going to live with the virus for the next 12 to18 months, he says, until a vaccine is available. We must not be alarmed at the outbreaks that would happen. We will always be vulnerable, but we must take all precautions to mitigate our risks. How we care for each other during this time will indicate how much we grow in our humanity.

Please continue to keep the sick and the destitute in prayer. We hope our small efforts will help a few find renewed hope in their need.

God bless and strengthen you in your faith.

Yours in Christ

Fr Neil Frank OMI
Provincial
Acting Priest-in-charge

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