Fr. Paul's Bulletin Articles

Written for the July 4, 2021 Bulletin

From Fr. Paul

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer.  This 4th of July is much different than last year.  Indications show that the threat of the pandemic which we have been living under since March 2020 is diminishing.  Hopefully, things will continue to improve and life will gradually be able to return to normal.  Each day throughout the pandemic I have privately celebrated Mass daily for our parish.  As prayer and celebration of the Eucharist is the heart and soul of who and what we are, it is with great joy to be able to invite greater participation and opportunities for us to worship together.  On July 6th, we will begin celebrating daily Mass on Tuesdays at 9:00 am at our Ferndale worship location and on Thursdays at 9:00 am at our Oak Park worship location.  Additionally, on the first Thursday of the month the healing Mass at 7:00 pm will return beginning Thursday, August 5th.  Please note that the healing Mass on the first Thursday of the month will replace the 9am Mass on Thursday mornings.

Family of Parishes formally began on July 1st.  The four parishes in our family include our parish, Transfiguration, Our Lady of La Salette and Divine Providence.  I, along with the pastors of each of these parishes will serve in a similar manner as co-pastors with responsibility for all the parishes within our family.  For the past few months, we have been meeting on a regular basis to establish a Covenant to help guide our interactions.  Through this process I am committed that our own charisms and identities will be retained and flourish.

For the past few months there has been information in the bulletin on the three Family of Parishes Gatherings which will be taking place beginning on July 13th.  I strongly urge you to register for these opportunities to get acquainted with our sister parishes.  Please see page 4 of this bulletin for additional information and how to register.

Blessings,

Fr. Paul

Written for the May 30, 2021 Bulletin

Dear Parish Family,

For over the 14 months we have been living with the pandemic.  COVID has obviously disrupted our personal lives and had a great impact on our faith life and our worship.  As things gradually open up I find that in some ways I can truly identify with hibernating bears.  It is not an easy re-entry.

Throughout the pandemic we have followed the directives and mandates from the Archdiocese, State, County and Health officials.  As more people are vaccinated and cases of COVID-19 are decreasing, we are now beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  In recent weeks, many directives have been changing or are in the process of changing.  It has been difficult to keep up with all of them.

On May 19 Archbishop Vigneron issued a letter to the faithful detailing new COVID liturgical protocols.  After carefully reviewing them, I have the following information to share with you:

  • For the time being our Mass Schedule will remain the same (Sunday, 9am in Oak Park and 11am in Ferndale).

  • Effective immediately people who have been fully vaccinated no longer will be required to wear masks at Mass. Of course, if you feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask you may do so. 

  • Masks are still required for those who are not vaccinated and our Eucharistic Ministers.

  • There will be a dedicated section of our worship locations where social distancing and face-coverings are consistently maintained. This section is for anyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated.

  • Hand sanitizer stations will still be in our worship locations and you are encouraged to use them.

  • We will resume the Sign of Peace with the normal wording, “Let us offer each other the sign of peace,” allowing you and your family to make your own determinations about how widely to share some sign of peace. Please understand that some parishioners may not feel as comfortable sharing a sign of peace as you do and be respectful of their sensitivities. 

  • At times we may keep windows and/or doors open to ventilate our worship locations.

  • On Sunday, June 6 we welcome Michael Chateau, our Director of Music, and our musicians back to church to lead us in song. Hymnals will be available.  Please remember to return the hymnals to the carts when you depart mass.

Gradually and hopefully, we are moving forward to a return to normal.

The past few weeks have been busy for me related to our parish being part of Wave 1 of Family of Parishes.  On May 19 and 20 I attended a retreat for pastors who are in the first wave of establishing Family of Parishes.  I was happy to spend the time with the pastors of our Family:  Fr. Jeff from Church of the Transfiguration in Southfield, Fr. Patrick from Our Lady of La Salette in Berkley, and Fr. Giteras from Divine Providence Lithuanian in Southfield.  We have all received our clergy assignments, effective July 1, 2021, from the Archbishop which indicate that no one priest is pastor of any single parish in our Family of Parishes.  Rather, we will all be pastors of all the parishes within our Family.

In addition to the retreat experience, we meet regularly as a group to work on some initial items as we move forward as a Family of Parishes.  We are discerning a name for our Family of Parishes.  Dedicated meetings to establish a Covenant – an agreement as to how we will work together – have been scheduled.  We are looking at the new Family of Parishes organizational structure and its implications.  For example, the Family will have a Family of Parishes Pastoral Council which will replace the individual parishes pastoral councils.  There will also be support for Discipleship Formation, Engagement, Evangelical Charity, Family Ministries, Worship and Mission Support.

Obviously, this change from one individual parish to a Family of Parishes and all that it entails will have a real impact on all of us – the pastors, staff, volunteers, and parishioners.  We are blessed that we have a wonderful and gifted Moderator of our Family, in the person of Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, who along with the Holy Spirit will guide us as we move forward in this process.

Working together in faith and unity will help us all as we transition to Family of Parishes.  Three gatherings for the parishioners of all the parishes in our Family have been scheduled.  There will be one in June, July, and August, to help all of us as we begin this transition.  Please see the article related to these gatherings on page 5 of this bulletin or visit our Family of Parishes page on our website.  Please make sure you mark your calendars and register for these gatherings.

CSA 2021 is now underway.  Our goal this year is $37,746.  For more details about CSA and how to donate there is an article on page 3 of this bulletin or you may visit the CSA 2021 page on our website.

I will keep you updated to any future changes to our Worship COVID protocols as well as the Family of Parishes process.

Please know that all of you remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Blessings,

Fr. Paul

 

Written for the March 21, 2021 Bulletin

Over the past year we, at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish, have been very careful to keep everyone safe and healthy during the pandemic.  Hopefully soon we can gradually return to some semblance of normalcy.

As we continue to slowly re-enter, I have increased the capacity for the number of people who we are able to attend our liturgies to 125.  Masks and social distancing requirements will still be maintained.

Our Holy Week liturgies will be modified and different from past years to follow the Archdiocesan guidelines.

The schedule for Holy Week 2021 is:

Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord on Sunday, March 28

at 9:00 am in Oak Park and 11:00 am in Ferndale.

Penance service on Monday, March 29

at 7pm in Oak Park

Mass of the Lords Supper on Thursday, April 1

at 7pm in Oak Park

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion Liturgy on Friday, April 2

at 1pm in Ferndale

Holy Saturday Blessing of Food Baskets on Saturday, April 3

at 11:30am in Oak Park

Easter Sunday Mass on Sunday, April 4

at 9:00 am in Oak Park and 11:00 am in Ferndale.

As we enter into Holy Week, the most sacred time of the church year, please know that you remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Fr. Paul

 

February 24, 2021

Dear Parish Family,

As I write this letter to you it is Day 8 of Lent 2021.  Our Lenten theme, Journey Through Wilderness, is certainly on my mind.  It is appropriate that we are repeating this theme this year.  We are still in the wilderness caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  There has been so much loss.  Over 500,000 Americans have died from this virus.  Parishioners have died without our traditional funeral masses, people have experienced the loss of not being able to see their loved ones, people are out of work, at times it seems like we have lost the light that lighted our way, and I could go on and on.  For me, the biggest challenges have been the isolation and lack of community interaction that we all have been facing.

Gratefully, by the grace of God, the data indicates that the number of COVID-19 cases are trending downward.  Vaccines are starting to be administered.  This is good news. However, many in our community are finding it difficult to get an appointment to be vaccinated.  There are are still many challenges that we continue to live with and through.

As many of you know Archbishop Vigneron announced that the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days will expire on March 13.  While the general dispensation is removed, there are specific instances where the dispensation will continue, as well as those circumstances where there is no obligation in the first place. One does not have an obligation to attend Mass on Sunday in the following circumstances:

  1. You are ill or your health condition would be significantly compromised if you were to contract a communicable illness (i.e., you have underlying conditions or are in a high-risk category). Please use the dispensation and do not attend Mass.

  2. You exhibit flu-like symptoms. Please use the dispensation and do not attend Mass.

  3. You have good reason to think you might be asymptomatic of a contagious illness (e.g., you were in recent contact with someone who tested positive for a contagious illness such as COVID or influenza). Please use the dispensation and do not attend Mass.

  4. You care for the sick, homebound, or infirmed.

  5. You are pregnant.

  6. Those 65 years of age or older (per the CDC’s recommendation of high-risk individuals).

  7. You cannot attend Mass through no fault of your own (e.g., no Mass is offered, you are infirmed, or, while wanting to go, you are prevented for some reason you cannot control (e.g., your ride did not show up, the church was at capacity).

  8. If you have significant fear or anxiety of becoming ill by being at Mass.

With this action by the Archbishop, we may be able to increase the allowable capacity for attendance at our liturgies.  However, safety protocols – masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, etc. – will remain in place.  I am in the process of determining best practices for our parish.  Once the plan on how best to proceed safely is determined the information will be on our website and in the bulletin.

Hopefully, the spirit of Lent will continue to resound in our hearts.  Let our prayers include the intentions that our faith community will rebound, that our togetherness will be enhanced, that our tradition of charity and outreach will grow, and that personally through some private sacrifice we will become more conscious of the presence of God in our lives.  Be assured that every day I say Mass for our parish, the parishioners, and our intentions.

Blessings,

Fr. Paul

 

December 20, 2020

Dear Parish Family,

Since March our lives have been impacted dramatically.  Many have tried to follow the directions of the authorities and really contained their social interaction.  Others have strongly objected to what they feel is an   infringement on their personal freedom.  Whatever anybody feels, the COVID19 virus is virulent with the greatest number of cases to date.

Of course, all of this has had a tremendous impact on our parish and the community.  We didn’t really have a Lenten season and now our Advent and Christmas season are very much contained.  Our advent theme “Waiting for the Light” is poignant.  If ever we needed a sense of God’s presence and Christ’s light, we need it now.

Life always brings ups and downs.  We are confronted with so many pluses and minuses.  In our Ferndale worship location some needed roof repairs, work on the bells and some stained glass was done.  In Oak Park some major mold   issues were addresses and serious smoke damage in the rectory is in the process of remediation.

On and on it goes and we try to carry on.  The emergence of approved vaccines may soon lighten the health threat we as a world have been living with for most of 2020.

Hopefully, just as Mary and Joseph faced difficulties, through the lens of faith, hope and love we will see the light of a new day. 

Try to remember that with Christ in our lives it is all good.

May your closing days of Advent and the upcoming Christmas season be blessed and happy.

Blessings,

Fr. Paul

 

December 3, 2020

(NOTE:  this article/letter will also appear in the December 13, 2020 bulletin)

Dear Parish Family,

The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways put our parish into a new and sad reality.  The restrictions and guidance from the Archdiocese, government, and health experts have greatly limited our ability to gather and do things as we did in the past. Thanksgiving was very different and difficult for many.  For the first time in 41 years my family was not able to gather together.

Given that our parishioners, by in large, are very vulnerable to the virus we need to be as cautious and careful as possible.  This is a difficult thing for all of us.

The parish is working with a skeleton staff.  There is no secretarial staff and the office is closed.

One of the saddest parts of all of this is that we have no weekday Masses and our two Masses on Sunday have restricted attendance with no music and very little community interaction.  I am reminded of time long ago, which perhaps some of you may identify with, when we had many “Low Masses”.

There are many opinions and ideas about what we should do and how we as a parish should proceed.  It is my conviction and decision that until the numbers of virus cases are greatly reduced and health experts issue new guidance, we need to minimize our human interaction as much as possible.  The most recent explosion of numbers of cases of the virus have only reinforced my decisions.  We will continue to not have any meetings, events, or special projects.  The mass schedule will continue as it is.

Christmas will bring special challenges.  The experts are recommending people stay at home, not travel and minimize exposure to others outside of their household.

As a result of the current COVID numbers and the projections being made I have decided that, in the best interest of our parish, parishioners and community we will have a very simple Advent and Christmas Season.  There will be no special decorations outside of our worship locations.  Decorations inside the church will be very simple and kept to a small modest display.

While it was a difficult decision, in an effort to keep everyone as safe as possible, the Christmas Mass schedule is a 9am Mass in Oak Park and an 11am Mass in Ferndale on Christmas Day.  Please note that parishioners continue to be dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass.  The Archdiocesan Liturgical Committee has recommended that if parishioners are not at risk, healthy and feel safe enough to attend Mass that they only attend one Mass from December 25 through December 27.

As our theme this Advent is Waiting for the Light may our prayer together help us to find light and hope in Jesus.

While we are living in difficult times please remember, with Christ in our lives it’s all good.

Fr. Paul

 

Written for the October 18, 2020 Bulletin

October 12, 2020

I hope all of you are well.  Please know that I miss seeing all of you and long for the day when we can again be together in prayer.  In this letter I share my thoughts and update you on things that have been on my mind concerning COVID-19, the annual Catholic Services Appeal (CSA), and facility matters.

After reading the paper today and listening to the news I am once again put in touch with the sad reality that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is not contained.  In Michigan and many other states, the numbers are higher than any time since April.  Of course, this is challenging news. Many people are becoming increasingly impatient with the restrictions and safeguards we must follow.

I just read the latest directives about current public health orders related to public gatherings and safety protocols as well as Archbishop Vigneron’s reminder that there is the requirement to wear masks and limit numbers of people at gatherings.  While these requirements provide a challenge I am grateful for and proud of the unprecedented work that Barbara Urbiel, our Worship Commission, and the COVID Safety Team have done to make sure we are in up to date and in compliance with the guidelines.  No one will be allowed into the church or other buildings without a mask.  Each of us must be responsible and follow these guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of our loved ones and our community of faith especially the elders of our community.  We need additional people to serve as members of the COVID Safety Team.  I appeal to those of you who are healthy and attending Mass to contact Barbara Urbiel 313.595.3054 or via email at [email protected] and volunteer to serve.

As I do every year, I need to again emphasize the importance of our participation in the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA).  This year our goal is 15% less than last year.  Gratefully, through the generosity of some of our parishioners we have always met this responsibility resulting with the goal overage coming back to the parish without being taxed at the usual 7%.  With slightly over 100 individuals currently attending Mass on a regular basis church finances are particularly difficult.  For those of you who are currently experiencing financial difficulties and feel you must choose between regular offertory donations or contributing to the CSA I encourage you to contribute to CSA.  The parish greatly benefits when we go over the goal.  My hope is that generosity will prevail, and you will respond, and it will be successful.

As we know COVID-19 has affected many things in our lives.  The church facilities are no different.  April was the target for all the work in the church in Oak Park to be completed.  Now, slowly things we are closer to completion of this project and soon all the reconstruction will be behind us.  The ceiling repair is mostly funded through insurance.  There is roof work that needs to be done to Bradley Hall.  Hopefully, this project will begin soon and be completed before the weather causes problems.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Chuck White, Vicki Mazuzrek, and the Finance Council for their leadership in steering us through CSA and the construction projects.  They have made this difficult process much easier.

Through all of this we carry on.  In closing I offer a prayer from St. Teresa of Avila. This prayer helps bear me up.  I hope it does the same for you.

Let nothing disturb you

Let nothing frighten you

All things pass away

God never changes

Patience obtains all things

The one who has God

Lacks for nothing

God alone suffices

May God’s Blessing be upon each of you,

Fr. Paul

 

Written for the September 13th Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

By way of this letter, I am asking for your support in this year’s Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). Through its many ministries and programs, our parish and many people in southeast Michigan experience the hope and peace the Lord Jesus has to give!

You are, through your gift to the CSA touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit and beyond. There are more than 170 ministries, programs, and services that bring true hope and true light to individuals and families every day.

The list of engagement, outreach, and service of the CSA is an extensive one and includes support for Vocations, Youth Ministries, Hispanic Ministries, Christian Services, Catholic Schools, Black Catholic Ministries, and Communications to name a few, but it all comes down to building relationships in Jesus’ name.  And, this engagement is made possible thanks to you and your gifts to support these efforts. 

During the pandemic, I have heard many people say, “we are in this together.” For Catholics, this rings true in a very particular way.  We are called by Christ to be his arms and feet.  We have been sent to support and to love those around us.

Thank you in advance for considering a gift to the Catholic Services Appeal.  You are helping to bring Christ to others, and for that I am grateful.  

You can make a gift or a pledge to this year’s Catholic Services Appeal by calling (888) 331-8695, or by visiting www.givecsa.org, or by mail using the enclosed card.  Thank you, for the generosity you have extended.

This year our CSA goal is $33,964 which is 18% lower than last year.  As in other years, our parish will receive 100% of all donations after we have reached our CSA goal so your gift will also directly benefit our parish.

Please be assured of my prayers and my gratitude. Thank you, and may God continue to bless you and all those you love. 

 

Rev. Paul F. Chateau, Pastor

 

Written for the May 31st Bulletin

Dear Parish Family,

As I write this it is the evening of May 20 for the May 31 bulletin (due to early bulletin deadlines).  We have begun the process for opening up the parish for Mass.  We are starting out slowly, safely and within guidelines and requirements.  We are initially starting this process with two Masses on Sunday – 9am in Oak Park and 11am in Ferndale.  For those of you who are able to attend Mass it will be good to see you.  For those of you who are not able to attend Mass know that you are missed, in my prayers, and want you to take care of yourself.  Please remember, that if your age, health status, etc. (see list below) prevents you from coming to Mass you are not committing a sin by staying home. The Archbishop has given you a dispensation through September 6, 2020.

This slow and safe reopening of parish for Mass is both good news and bad news. 

After two months with great anticipation and joy some of us will be able to begin to come together in a very modified and limited way.  The community of God’s people joining in prayer trying in our own time and place to find the Lord and share the Eucharist.  This is the most important part of my life, ministry, and faith.  What a joy to resume a special prayerful moment to celebrate God’s gifts as we try in prayer to support one another.  This indeed is good news.

The bad news and the reality are the challenges of complying with the recommendations and guidelines of the local, state, and federal experts as well as the directives from the Archdiocese.  These are rigorous and difficult but especially important.

For the foreseeable future things will look and be vastly different as we adhere to the guidelines. 

Who should come to Mass?  For your safety and well-being as well as those of our parishioners and community if you are in any of the following categories (please, remember you do not have an obligation to attend Mass until September) you are strongly encouraged to stay home:

those older than 65 years of age

anyone with compromised health conditions

those caring for the sick in any way

anyone exhibiting any signs of illness

anyone exhibiting any signs/symptoms of Coronavirus/COVID-19

fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste of smell, diarrhea, and extreme fatigue

those who have travelled internationally or outside of the State of Michigan in the 14 days prior to possibly attending Mass

those who have been in close contact in the 14 days prior to possibly attending Mass with someone with a diagnosis of COVID-19

How will things be different?  Some of the ways are:

Face-coverings/masks are to be worn by everyone over the age of two (2) in and around the church (parking lot, vestibules, church).  We ask that you bring your own facemasks with you.  No one will be admitted without a face mask.

You will most likely encounter a line when you enter church.  We ask you to adhere to the 6-foot separation.

Physical/Social distancing (at least 6 feet away) is practiced in the church and on the church property.

Doors to be used for entry/exit will be clearly marked.

We will not exceed 75 people at a single mass. This limit should allow people to remain at least six feet apart. There will be clear markings indicating where you may sit.

We ask and strongly encourage you to wash your hands prior to arriving for Mass.  While we will have hand sanitizer available, we ask that you bring your own if you have it and use it right before you enter the church as well as before you approach to receive communion and when you return to your seat after receiving communion.

While the Eucharist will be shared it will be distributed in a vastly different way since social distancing must take place.  We will continue to explain and guide you through the process.

The church facilities will be cleaned and sanitized, using proper techniques, before and after Masses.

We are committed to doing everything we can to be safe and protect one another as we once again begin to gather at Mass.  As things evolve, we will keep you updated via the bulletin, website, and parish mobile app.  You may also receive a phone call from our office staff.  For the time being there will be no meetings or other events.  I ask for your cooperation as we move forward. Your cooperation will make all of this much easier.  Know that God will provide, and we will prevail.                              

Blessings,

Fr. Paul