I want to thank everyone for the comments here on Flocknote and for doing the survey. I also thank the staff and members of the Finance and Pastoral Councils who joined me online at 1 PM today. And I thank my priests friends and siblings who also helped with brainstorming how to do Mass with people in their cars.
As for the survey, it seems to me that we'll get 5 to 10 cars for daily Mass and 50+ for Sunday Mass. That's quite manageable.
Our bishop emphasized dignity of the celebration of Mass and practicality. Several parishioners have expressed a great desire to receive Holy Communion. I'm reminded that the most important thing I do every day is celebrate Mass.
I plan to celebrate Mass outside as much as possible. Weather may force me inside. Either way, we can have cars in the parking lot. The weather may also prompt me to improvise.
The highest point outside where I can celebrate Mass is by the Parish Center up on the curb. The closest I can get to the most people (with access to an outlet) is outside the porch section of the rectory.
I plan to livestream the outside Mass at least for daily Mass. If it goes well, I'll do so for Sunday Mass too. Otherwise, I'll celebrate two Masses on Sunday. Livestreaming may dictate where I celebrate Mass because I need to be near a Wi-Fi signal. Tomorrow, I'll test the signals outside the Parish Center and rectory. I can make a strong signal outside the rectory. I don't know if I can easily do that outside the Parish Center.
After Sunday Mass, I will do a number of tests to figure out the best place to celebrate Mass outside. Tomorrow night, I'll let you know the results.
We're going to try to keep this relatively simple. So, I don't plan to purchase an FM transmitter. Instead, I'll work on everyone joining a conference call via their cell phones.
After experimenting with daily Mass for a few days, I'll have a much better idea of what we can do on Sunday. The experiments will include using new tech on the way: a better microphone and new VoIP phones. Holly is going to let me borrow her USB microphone until the new parish microphone arrives.
Please pray for all of us priests. Trying to figure out how to celebrate Mass outside is a lot more complicated that what I've described. Yet, I'm encouraged by the comment from Charlie Gartlan about how he experienced Mass outside as a boy scout. When I was saying my prayers in the church, I both asked the Lord for guidance and imagined how to make this simple.
Please also pray for everyone who will join me for the outdoor Mass experiment. Pray that they keep their wits about them and that they might enter deeply into the sacred mysteries despite the less than ideal conditions. Hopefully, we'll only need to do this for a few weeks. We'd rather be back in the church. It's already set-up for Mass with a smaller congregation. We just need the good word from the bishop who is waiting upon the governor to open up a few more things.
God love you,
Fr. Jim O'Neill
on Saturday, May 16 at 8:02PM