If this hadn't been such a year for surprises and changes we would be getting ready for the pilgrimage journey to the Holy Land. It had been originally planned for mid-October 2020. I spoke with the tour coordinator this past week and we are still hoping for and planning on rescheduling to June of 2021.
Please keep the Christians of Bethlehem in your prayers. Evidently the COVID virus has been especially difficult on the people of that region. Their access to healthcare either in Israel or in Palestine is restricted. The number of cases in and around Bethlehem has continued to grow recently. The tour coordinator, who has been living in the Houston, Texas area for a number of years, but who has many relatives still in Bethlehem, is especially hoping for a vaccine breakthrough to happen soon! They strongly need the return of tourism there.
Thank you for continuing to be wearing masks or face coverings while in our churches. Most recently, I noticed all but 1 or 2 wearing them at both the 5:00 p.m. Mass and the 8:00 a.m. Mass. I know it is a hardship for almost everyone and a sign of caving in to coercion for some, but it seems to be statistically impactful for keeping this largely airborne illness at a minimum in our area. As restrictive as policies have been here in Ohio, although we are ~14th or 15th in terms of total number of cases, we are now ~25th in the number of active cases and ~40th in the number of cases per capita in the country.
Thank you, again, to all who have participated in this year's Diocesan Parish/Share Campaign. Slowly but surely we are getting closer to our parish goal. I am planning to make an in-pulpit appeal next weekend, Sept. 19th/20th. More on that statistically next week.
May the Lord continue to bless us with joy and peace as disciples of Jesus and always ready for the gift of eternal life!