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Crosiers thoughtfully and prayerfully hold off on re-opening priory church in Phoenix

Dear Friends,
 
We are most grateful for all of you who join us by live streaming for our liturgical celebrations of the Hours and Mass. We have heard from many of you that being able to pray with us is helpful and nourishes your spirit during this time of pandemic. Along with that we hear the question of when we will reopen our priory church to the public. The Crosiers have taken time to study and discuss this question. I would like to share with you where we see ourselves at this time.
 
We have taken time to identify two key values that guide our reflections and decision-making. First, we want to ensure the safety and health of Crosiers and those we serve. Second, we want to continue our mission to touch suffering with hope. 
 
While we would love to worship with you in person, we do not plan to open our church to the public at this time. It pains us deeply to make this decision. We would like to share our reasons for this decision:
  • We want to continue celebrating our conventual liturgy (Hours and Eucharist) in a way that fosters the liturgy of the Church, as this is part of our service to the Church. Since the ventilation system moves air all through the relatively small and confined space of our church, we would need to discontinue having music as part of our celebrations because both Crosiers and others would need to wear masks. Singing the liturgy is tied to our special vocation to foster the liturgy of the Church. Many of you have commented how meaningful the music in our celebrations is to your spiritual lives.
  • Because of the size of our church, we could only allow a small number of people inside, something that would run counter to our charism of hospitality. We do not want to turn people away who want to worship with us, but we would need to do so in order to follow the recommendations of the medical community for social distancing; the actual number of people we could safely allow in the church would be very small.
  • We are a religious community of men who live in rather close quarters, and we want to be as proactive as possible to avoid infection within our community. We would need to quarantine our entire community if one of us tests positive for the virus, effectively requiring us to discontinue our mission to touch suffering with hope.
  • Because of our ability to live stream Morning Prayer, Sunday and weekday Conventual Eucharist and Evening Prayer, others are able to take part in our liturgical life online. We recognize it is not the same as being together in person. In light of our primary goals to keep everyone safe and healthy and to continue our mission, live streaming our liturgical celebrations is a way to achieve both goals. In addition, we offer Holy Communion after Sunday Mass in the parking lot. Being in an open-air setting ensures a higher level of safety and health for all concerned. The Crosiers involved in this ministry wear masks and gloves to protect everyone.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this decision has been made at this time. The Crosier ideal is to worship in churches open to the public; to have to keep our church closed is a painful decision for us to make, but we believe it is prudent to do so until such time that we can ensure the safety and health of all who gather to worship God in this place. 
 
We continue to pray for all those who have become infected, those who have died and their loved ones, and the medical community attending to the sick and seeking a cure for this disease.
 
Sincerely in the Holy Cross,
 
Fr. Tom Enneking, osc