Sacred Heart of Jesus Church - Serving the Communities of South Bend and Lakeville, Indiana
DISTRIBUTION OF HOLY COMMUNION AND WEARING OF MASKS BY MINISTERS: With the recent changes that greatly effected children and schools (see our website for that information and wording that came to us from the State and our Diocesan Schools Office), there will be no further need for the ministers of Holy Communion to wear masks when distributing. As any sound medical information would tell us, one cannot pass any Covid virus (or otherwise) in the momentary time one is receiving Communion. Further, if a person is still concerned for their own needs (personal health concerns) they will likely be wearing a mask when they approach the minister, which will provide any protection that may be gained by the use of masks.
In my consulting with one of the medical staff of Beacon Hospital, there was agreement in this matter and the greater concern would be the continued use of hand sanitizer by the ministers as we’d done for some time before the concern of Covid.
This change should be true for both parishes of Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Jude. 
As many of you have read in recent weeks in various media coverage, or heard on the local news, there was an issue of importance regarding a priest who was baptizing children with an incorrect formula.  The matter may, to many, seemed like one of minutia or semantics, but if you go to the link provided here, there is a very sound explanation of why the wording IS important. As a Catholic, you should understand such matters so as to explain them to those who have no understanding, and who might, in their ignorance of Sacramentality (in general) think that it is silly and make fun of the Church in her concern over such.
The explanation reminds me somewhat of intentions stated and vows at a wedding, when (if not properly instructed ahead) the couple may respond with a “we” to a question that is actually posed to each, individually. 
Here is the link that will help you to read and understand the matter much better than has been covered, especially through non-Catholic media releases.
From the USCCB Divine Worship secretariat in summer 2020 when this ruling first made news:
Hope this is helpful to any who have wondered what this is all about and why. ~Fr. John
Every family and religious community, every member of the faithful, urged to join in praying the Luminous Mysteries

At the end of the general audience on March 18, 2020, the pope said he is joining the initiative promoted by the Italian bishops to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary at 9:00 p.m. (Italian time) on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph.

Presumably, this initiative will gain ground across the globe, with each time zone joining in and creating a chain of prayer.
Every family, every member of the faithful, every religious community: All of us spiritually united ... in praying the Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries. Mary — Mother of God, and Health of the Sick, to whom we direct the Rosary, under the loving gaze of St. Joseph, Protector of the Holy Family, and our families — brings us to the luminous and transfigured Face of Christ and His Heart. And we ask that He especially protect our families, in particular the sick and those who care for them: doctors, nurses, and volunteers, who risk their lives in this service.

The Holy Father also spoke about St. Joseph:
In life, in work, in family, in joy and sorrow, he always sought and loved the Lord, making himself deserving of the praise the Scriptures give him: a just and wise man. Call on him always, especially in difficult times, and entrust your lives to this great saint.

I will be away on the 29th of this month for the 4:30 Mass; doing a wedding in Fort Wayne.  Fr. Francis Makut will be taking my place.
The next big event for both parishes is the Sacred Heart’s annual Valentine Social and Dance    which is slated for February 12.  If you’ve never put together a table of friends or just attended as a couple on your own and joined a table, you’re missing a great time, tasty food and drink, and always a good DJ to help you dance the night away!  [The same DJ, I believe, that we had for the jointly-held Parish Picnic which was a great success attended by well over 200 members.] The Valentine’s Evening event is held at Sacred Heart’s Parish Hall and with the decorations, it is amazingly transformed into a romantic space for a fun evening! If you’ve never been: easy well-lit parking, ramp entrance. 

Mark your calendars and plan to join the fun! ~Fr. John
First off, many thanks to those who decorated (both churches) for Christmas.  Each are always so beautifully done and a special joy to see at this time of year. 

At St. Jude, we have a new backdrop for the Crèche which is truly a work of art. It was done by one within the parish, a professional artist, who wishes to remain anonymous, though many who know him would quickly recognize his talent. He wishes to make his gift in memory of Jim Vargo, to honor him. 
The Weber family did the decorating otherwise, almost single-handedly, though they quickly said next year they hope for some helpers, as it is quite a task.  I’m sure when it comes time to take down the decorations even this year, they would be glad for some helpers.
 Speaking of the crèche, the figures are new but not.  The main figures of JMJ are those from St. Mary’s and the added figures, donated by another who wishes to remain anonymous.  They are Fontanini figures, from Italy, and beautifully lifelike in their features.  Some of you may also have smaller nativity sets in your own homes; treasures to pass down from one generation to the next!
For any who have lost a loved one this past year, it is always a special prayer of mine at this time of year for those for whom Christmas is just not the same without the special loved one with them.  I understand the feeling, though each of us who go through it in some way or another all have a different experience of loss.  “Blessed are they who mourn. . . “. They knew a special love and that’s a blessing some in life miss.
While it will be said at weekend Masses, I will not catch everyone, as I say to all in both parishes, a blessed, healthy, and prosperous New Year, prosperous in the ways that truly matter and are lasting - which means united to love in life.
Covid, more so than lightening, can strike twice in the same place!  It did, striking me again.  This time, I’m guessing Omicron.  Like the last time, I felt the worst the first 3 - 4 days with a runny nose, sneezing, a mild cough due to the drippy  snoot, no temp, and for all intent and purposes, I thought I just caught a winter cold.  But, at an RN’s suggestion, I went to get the test kit from Walgreen’s and sure enough, it came up “pink.”  I knew I wasn’t pregnant, so it had to be Covid (again). 
 I had blood work done less than 3 weeks earlier and it showed that I still had good antibodies and between the previous case, the added infusion that I got at that time, the two Pfizer shots, (booster was to be on the 7th of January) , getting it again blows a hole in the notion of those who think they can’t get it again simply  because they have antibodies. 
There is a lot of misinformation out there, even from government.
The media and medical resources now tell us that with this strain, only an N-95 mask will provide protection, but one can’t live in those either.  The short exchange with someone (such as in a Communion line of 10 seconds or less) cannot pass it along; the masks there are theater and even Bishop did not wear one recently for Confirmation, or at other places he has had Holy Mass.  Many parishes have dropped the mask for Ministers of Communion too.  I think the hand sanitizer used by ministers as they come up to help (like we always did before) may offer more safety.
 In the end, and this too is only my guess, we are all going to be vulnerable at some point in catching it and most all will get through it just fine as this 72-year-old has now done twice.

If no vaccine, even the so-called healthy seem to get much more sick than my 3-4 day experience, and some, as we know, FAR worse.  My recommendation as is that of the Bishops of the US and the Holy Father himself, is to get the vaccine; if not for your own protection, then for the concern for others.  It is sure to reduce one’s own condition as well as the likelihood they will pass it on at a serious level.  But then, the medical websites also support that thinking.  Toss it to the wind if you wish.  Others will and have.  Many are no longer with us. 

 In further reflection on the matter of having had Covid a second time, hearing all the news reports, reading articles from those educated in infectious diseases, or from research institutions, etc., it would seem that while Omicron is less volatile for some, maybe most, it is still very serious, even deadly, for the most vulnerable. That seems to include the unvaccinated who are 90%+ of hospitalizations, children under 5, and the elderly who are otherwise medically compromised. On that point, several points to consider:   Many who have other serious needs for hospitals, surgeries, specialized treatment due to cancers and other serious matters, are unable to get beds, thanks to the overwhelming numbers of Covid patients and the lack of enough staff to handle it all. If that were my parent who could not get a much-needed surgery, I would be very unhappy with those most responsible for why the increased numbers and the unavailability of needed treatment for other serious illnesses.
From all that is there for the reading those most responsible seem to be those refusing to be vaccinated. When I ask any number of those who tell me of their refusal, the stories range from, “I will not let government tell me what to do”, or, “for moral reasons of how the vaccine was developed”, or “I believe the young and the healthy have a natural immunity”, just to name a few.  At the same time, none of these people have been able to provide me with supportive articles from bonafide sources of medical knowledge.
Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, a recognized moral theologian who has written for many national Catholic papers, and who has given presentations in the past to our own clergy, has given sound reason why the moral grounds issue is not  valid,  and  the  greater  good  and  concern at this point is the well-being of the greatest numbers world-wide.
I am not keen on the government telling me what to do either, but that does not have to be the reason (digging one’s feet in) as to why one chooses to do what is maybe best for the greater good and especially the most vulnerable among us. To me, that’s   the   true   moral  matter,  in my humble opinion.

There are those who talk about “right to life” and are strongly anti-abortion (as I certainly am too) but the most sound information available tells us that the most helpless and vulnerable among us as a people, in light of this Covid issue, are babies and small children under five (those who at this point cannot get a vaccine) and who, by their nature and age, are more susceptible to serious upper respiratory illnesses. Where’s the same care for their vulnerable lives as for the unborn child?  To me, the lack of seeing a connection is puzzling to say the least.  Then there are the very old, the unhealthy in other ways, who are also very vulnerable and are among the greatest number of being horribly ill for extended periods, or worse, death.  Right to Life includes a moral concern for those people as much as for the helpless child in the womb.  Let’s be consistent  in our concerns.
An insurance CEO for an Indianapolis insurance company (huge) wrote in the WSJ this past Tuesday, that deaths (compared to pre-Covid) are up 40% and that an every 200-year major catastrophe would only raise the numbers by 10% (by comparison). Clearly this is deadly and clearly the most vulnerable need to be protected and the surest way is for all to get the vaccine out of regard for others, putting aside stubbornness or medically unsubstantiated reasons otherwise, or for political bias.
The information is out there from very reliable and sound sources as to why this is the best thing to do for the greater good of the greatest numbers.  One simply has to want to read and be well-informed. 
Granted, this is my opinion, but it is one that has been informed as best as I’m able to do so, yet I know many will argue the point.  In the end, one will not have to answer to me, and especially on the “right to life” issue that is a part of the picture.
Do I agree that masks are largely more theater than valuable? Yes, clearly, unless we are all wearing the N-95 mask, then maybe. . .  Am I troubled by the confusion that has been put out by Fauci? Yes. Do I think much has been politicized? Yes. And I too find all that confusion to be troubling and not helping good people make good decisions.  But in the end, what is the best moral choice one can make for the greater good and beyond one’s own (often poorly formed) opinions?  That’s where I stand and why.  To each their own, as in all matters of free-will, but free will has gotten many a soul in trouble from time immemorial.

I listened to the news the other day, an interview with a pediatrician at a major pediatric hospital, who was choked up as he told of his standing with parents, bedside, to their dying baby (from Covid), who had refused to be vaccinated themselves.  He just shook his head in grief, as he said, “This could very likely have been prevented. . . “ I guess for many, it would have to hit their home in order to make a difference. At that point, he said, the parents (too) regretted their decision.
Those stories too, are what help me form my opinion; take it for what its worth, but don’t try to argue with me. I’m past that. ~Fr. John