Pastor Letter Coronavirus COVID-19 (March 31, 2020)

Pastor Letter Coronavirus COVID-19 (March 31, 2020)
Mary Queen of Peace
120 South 24th St
Billings, MT 59101

March 31, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Mary Queen of Peace Parish,
This past Friday, March 28th and effective immediately due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, our Bishop Michael Warfel in a letter to the priests of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings approved updated regulations for parishes and their congregations to follow.
As you most likely are aware, the Governor of Montana enacted a shelter-in-place order effective March 28th, 2020. Bishop Warfel is directing Catholic priests in our Diocese of Great Falls-Billings to celebrate the sacraments following appropriate safety protocols and procedures that are in accordance to the Governor’s shelter-in-place order. Once the shelter-in-place order is lifted, our Bishop will issue further directives based on the situation at the time.
In his letter the Bishop stated “Parish churches will remain open for private prayer so long as no more than 10 people assemble in the church and social/physical distancing (a minimum of 6 feet) is maintained.” The Bishop wrote further: “All public Masses are suspended until further notice. The general dispensation for all the faithful from the obligation to participate at Mass on Sunday remains in place until notification to the restriction is made.”
The Bishop makes clear in the letter that the Masses are suspended, not canceled. The Bishop said, “The sacraments are not canceled, nor are their graces, the public celebration is only suspended.”
The Bishop emphasized, “There are to be no public celebrations of the Liturgies of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.”
Here at Mary Queen of Peace we will keep the doors of our church open Monday thru Sunday, 9:00AM until 5:00PM. Please maintain social distancing and know that we have placed hand wipes, hand sanitizers, for your safety in the church.
Please note also that when you enter into the front door of the church, to your left side just outside the alcove area on the inner church wall and adjacent to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe there is a deposit box that you can drop your collection envelopes/monies; it is a securely mounted metal box. Feel free to deposit your offerings there.
Thank you to all who are regularly visiting our Mary Queen of Peace Parish website. As you know, there are numerous websites online you may watch live-streamed and previously recorded Catholic Masses.
As your pastor I wholeheartedly support our Bishop’s latest guidelines. Please continue to pray for one another and check in with your neighbors, especially your older community members.
In our church community we continue to pray for those most susceptible to the disease, including those already sick, our seniors, and our caregivers. We also keep in our prayer petitions those who are facing economic hardship, including those seeing a loss of income and employment from the disease’s repercussions.
Be assured that I am praying for you and your families.
I am enclosing for your prayer benefit in this letter the Angelus prayer and on its backside sheet directions: How to Pray the Rosary and the Mysteries of the Rosary.
Please, in the meantime, if need be contact me at my parish office number (406) 294-7606, especially those in need of individual spiritual attention.
Thank You and May our Most Gracious and Loving God Hear and Answer Us.
Father José Marquez, Pastor—Mary Queen of Peace Parish, Billings Montana