Wednesday, October 28
Fraudulent emails and texts are being sent by scammers posing as Fr. Patrick. Perpetrators use various techniques to gain your trust and may provide specific instructions, which, if followed, could result in monetary loss. We have alerted the authorities of this continuing problem.
Do Not Become a Victim
Fr. Patrick, or any other member of Padre Serra Parish, will never request money from any parishioner by email or text.
Please do not email or text with these individuals, divulge any personal information, or provide money/credit card/gift card payments. When in doubt, contact us to authenticate the text message.
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New public health comments about masks
Contact: Ashley Bautista, Public Information Officer, (805) 654·2640
Ventura, CA – Ventura County Public Health Officer changes position on face masks, no longer advising against wearing them in public. Instead, he supports those residents who wish to cover their nose and mouth when leaving home for essential travel to doctor appointments, grocery shopping or pharmacy visits. The face coverings should not be hospital grade at this time because there is a shortage and our health professionals need them. Masks should be homemade and cover the nose and mouth. There are numerous sites online which demonstrate or give patterns for how to make fabric masks. The Camarillo Sewing Brigade provides video instruction at the following link. Additional instruction at the following link. Fabric masks can be washed and used again.
For decades, Public Health officials nationwide and locally have said that wearing a mask for protection against the flu is unnecessary for the general public. Now, Ventura County Public Health Officer Doctor Robert Levin says circumstances have changed. “There is growing evidence that people can have COVID-19 without any symptoms and that they can pass it to others at this stage. Many people wear masks thinking it will protect them from a virus, and in certain cases it may. That may also be true for COVID-19 especially if accompanied by good hand hygiene and social distancing, but now there may be a better reason to wear a mask; it will decrease the chance of you spreading it to someone else if you have the infection asymptomatically.”
This is particularly important if decreasing spread means not infecting a senior or someone with other chronic conditions. “In light of building evidence, I support those who wish to wear a mask in public. I don’t think everyone must do so, but I look upon those who do as making a responsible decision. I never thought I’d say that.” It is imperative though, that the use of masks by members of the public not contribute to the shortage of personal protective equipment needed by first responders like health care workers. If someone chooses to wear a mask in public, it should be home made, at least until there is no more shortage. “I’m not ready to wear a mask yet but I will respect those who do. It’s going to be hard for me to not start wearing one,” said Doctor Levin. “Covering your face doesn’t change the orders everyone must abide by to stay home as much as possible and maintain social distancing, but it’s an extra layer of protection that I think is reasonable to add.”
The rationale for covering one’s face comes from the belief that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual, which fabrics may filter. This not only helps to reduce the risk a well person can breathe those droplets in, but also protects others around someone with mild or no symptoms who may not yet realize they have the COVID-19 infection. Face coverings may be worn anytime a person is outside of their home, even in offices of essential businesses.
“We must work together to stop the spread and save lives in our County,” said Doctor Levin. “That means that flattening the curve may benefit from another layer of protection against the virus. Consider the additional step to cover your face.” Health officials continue to stress that frequent hand washing, social distancing and staying home are the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Stay in your place, maintain your space and cover your face.
Public Information Officer
County of Ventura, CEO
Office: (805) 654·2640
Mobile: (805) 212·9484
We were asked not to distribute palms to you, as always for health reasons. But...
I have it on good authority that in Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Austria, where there are no palm trees, willow branches are used instead of palms. So I invite you, go into your yard, or with your neighbor’s permission their yard, and find your own worthy substitutes for the palm branches we would have distributed. Bring them to wherever you are going to watch Mass this coming Sunday, 10:00 am. Together, we’ll recall our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the royal city, before we
experience the spiritual whiplash, from praise and glory to deep suffering, proclaimed in the two Gospel readings of the day.
If you happen to have a palm tree in your yard, all the better.
Also, consider wearing red, even at home (and yes, if you’ve been wearing your pajamas to Mass these last weeks, let them be red jammies), as an outward sign of our identification with Jesus, as his disciples, in his greatest act of fidelity and selflessness.
I’ll be with you at 10:00 am.
Love from your priest,
Daniel Cox, MD, Palliative Care
Nessa Meshkaty, MD, Infectious Disease
Melissa Barger, MD, Infectious Disease
In the near future, we are going to experience a coronavirus surge here in Ventura County. We don’t know exactly what it will look like or feel like, but it will affect all of us.
Here’s what we all need to understand: this virus is dangerous. For many of us – including younger people who are indeed contracting the virus at a high rate – coronavirus will feel like a bad flu. With luck, rest, and fluids, one could ride out the fever, cough, and body aches and start to improve over a period of weeks. However, if our experience in Ventura County is similar to other areas, up to twenty percent of confirmed cases will have a different experience.
Let’s put this in perspective for our county, population ~850,000. In a worst-case scenario, 1 in 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 will progress to serious illness requiring hospitalization. One quarter of those hospitalized patients with COVID-19 will further decline to the point where they need a ventilator and life support to survive. Using an epidemiologic model recommended by the California Department of Public Health, we find that without strict social distancing, we will need 18,000 ventilators to take care of the sickest patients at the peak of the surge on day 58 of the outbreak. Yet we have only an estimated 180 ventilators across the 8 hospitals in Ventura County. Hospitals in Italy, Iran, and now New York City have been overwhelmed when the infection rate spiked, and many have died that would otherwise have had a chance at surviving.
We realize that what we are saying is difficult to hear, but we also want to be very clear. These patients are not going to remain abstract statistics. This may well be someone you love, someone you know. Nonetheless, as your community health care providers, we wish to share this message: we are here for you. We are preparing for the surge every second of every day. We will care for you. We take our responsibility to the community seriously. But you have a responsibility to our community as well. Ultimately, despite our best efforts, we cannot adequately care for a sick population that exceeds our capacity. If the rates of coronavirus spike and our county residents all need acute care simultaneously – there will not be enough beds, and many will be denied the care that we would all expect to receive, leading to loss of life.
We understand why most people struggle with the idea of sheltering in place. It imposes limits on our basic freedoms. We are social animals by nature and our joy is tied to our interpersonal connections. Layer on top of that the real need to earn a living to support our families and it can feel like an impossible ask to stay at home. And yet human interaction is the fuel that spreads this virus. Everything we do and everywhere we go – the sum of our normal activities – are like dry brush in a forest fire for coronavirus. But by staying home – when we deny the virus pathways and carriers to spread – the virus starves. Ironically, after weeks of sheltering in place, if we see that nothing much has happened – that’s when we’ll know that our sacrifice made all the difference.
So here is the good news. If we are able to sustainably reduce social contact by 60%-70% and improve testing and treatment, the aforementioned epidemiologic model suggests we could improve from that worst-case scenario of 18,000 ventilators needed on day 58 to a much more manageable peak of 475 ventilators on day 170 of the outbreak. That extra time is critical for our hospitals to build ventilator capacity and allow for the development of novel treatments. Thousands of lives would be saved. The key is sustaining the recommended reduction in social contact for that prolonged period of time.
As your physicians in Ventura County, we care deeply about our community and providing the best care possible to our patients. That is why we are asking you to honor Governor Newsom’s order to stay home. Each week that we shelter in place gives our health care system a chance to adapt and build our defenses to better prepare for the coronavirus surge. Your efforts and sacrifice now will save lives of people you know and love in the future. We thank you.
Public Information Officer
County of Ventura, CEO
This is a long one, but I have a number of important items to pass on to you. The first is that I am praying for you, for your patience, for your confidence and fearlessness, for your generosity of spirit, and for your health and safety.
The second is that I and the parish pastoral team and staff are fine. The seniors have all gone home to work from a safe place, and most of the staff do as much from home as possible, which is quite a lot. We had some confusion as our first round of responses, limiting exposure, have all been undone by subsequent instructions, eliminating exposure. Sigh.
Dominic MacAller and I are working on next week’s liturgy. Be there at 10:00 am on Sunday.
Brett Becker, our youth minister, is doing amazing things online in Zoom meetings and the like with the teens. If you have a lonely teenager twiddling her thumbs, suggest she look in on Brett’s online gatherings (email@example.com). Guys too!
Tere Delgado is working with her lovely team to get lessons home to all the children in faith formation, to do with their parents. This will be a team effort, parents. Do your best!
Among Teresa’s goals at this time is to keep people in ministry connected to each other. If you belong to a parish ministry that needs to meet, please contact her (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask how we can help set up a Zoom meeting. It’s fairly easy, even for this 60 year old who never attended a Zoom meeting until this last week.
Among the parish ministries that deserve particular praise is St. Vincent de Paul and members of the Young Adult Ministry, who are working very creatively to take care of households in financial crisis. Now would be a very good time to consider a donation to St. Vincent de Paul!
On that point, the parish collection this last weekend was under 1/5th of what we would normally receive. I know that many people have financial stresses. If you can contribute to your parish, now would be a very good time. Checks can be mailed or online offerings can be made at: www.osvonlinegiving.com/4191
Appointments with me:
- I will be accepting online appointments with Zoom, Skype, or by phone.
- They don’t need to be emergencies. They just need to be important to you.
- Please, contact my assistant, Barbara at (email@example.com)
- She is working from home, so be patient
- If you are homebound with no family or friend support and need help with grocery shopping, please contact Teresa at (805) 482·6417 x322 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- You may wonder if there are any moral consequences to getting sick. Not in general, but if you get sick because you have been careless, in a time when the disease is deadly…then yes, there can be moral responsibility. This is because
- your own life is of value (and even the young have gotten very ill or died from this coronavirus);
- you may infect others;
- your caregivers are also put at risk;
- your sickness stresses an already overwhelmed healthcare system, taking sparse medical resources away from others.
- The moral implications are that we should do our very best to avoid getting sick, and that we are to follow the advice of the experts: stay home, maintain at least 6 feet, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, etc.
- Regarding hording, we are as important as others. However, we aren’t more important. Don’t let irrational fear drive you, especially when it may leave others at a disadvantage.
- The moral implications are that we should obtain, in as safe a way as possible, what we need, but that we should not horde.
- We have to treat every stranger as someone at risk. You don’t know when the person you see, who looks young and healthy, is actually compromised because of
- their smoking,
- a genetic disability, of which they might not even be aware,
- their health history, which you simply cannot know.
- The moral implication is that we are maintaining all of the recommendations given by the health community because our faith instructs us to have a general concern for everyone, including those who look healthy, but aren’t.
The sacrament of reconciliation / confession:
- The archbishop has suspended all confessions except for people in extreme danger.
- I cannot hear your confession over the phone or computer; priest and penitent must be physically present to each other. The archbishop told us specifically not to do drive by confessions.
- In the absence of the opportunity to go to the sacrament, please do as Pope Francis has instructed:
- make your confession directly to God,
- trust in God’s mercy,
- and make use of the first opportunity you have when the crisis passes, to make a sacramental confession with a priest.
Pastoral care of the sick
(Please read even if no one in the household is sick yet)
- Apart from emergencies, the situation does not permit me to make communion or confession visits, though I will certainly speak to the sick over the phone. Please, arrange this by emailing my assistant, Barbara (email@example.com), who is working from home.
- If the sick have a severe case of the coronavirus, you need to tell me that before I come. I will not be able to touch them or stand close to their head. This means, to give them the sacrament of the sick, I will need:
- to wear a mask, goggles and gloves (I will bring them);
- to stand at their feet, one of which will need to be uncovered;
- to anoint them with a Q-tip or some other distancing mechanism.
- If there is a realistic fear of death from any disease or age related weakness, please call the parish emergency number, (805) 512·3208, and I will do my best to come.
- Please don’t wait to the very last moment, as it’s always better to care for the conscious, who may well desire to go to confession if they can.
- If you can call in daylight hours, please do so. In an emergency do what you need to do.
- Please hear this: In my experience, the dying most often know that they are dying (dementia aside), and though they may not want to make you uncomfortable by talking about it, they often will be very free to have a comforting conversation with me, discussing their fears and hopes – because they often have both. Don’t deny them that chance by waiting till they are unconscious.
Sunday and weekday Mass
- The current restrictions against saying Mass with a community present extend through April 18, the Sunday after Easter. This is following the request of the governor of California and the archbishop of Los Angeles.
- My guess is, having observed the crisis in other places, that this shut down will probably be extended, rather than shortened. Whatever the governor says, I believe the archbishop will follow.
- We will continue to livestream Mass. We will always maintain a link on the home page of the parish. So you will be able to find our livestream at
- The actual page will be www.padreserra.org/mass
- The best streaming experience can be found at www.youtube.com/psptv/live
- We will try to have a worship aid, if possible. I received some pictures in which people watched the Mass on their TV, while following the worship aid on their iPad. If you have to choose one or the other, I recommend the Mass livestream.
Stations of the Cross
- The Stations of the Cross Garden is available for those who agree to maintain a 6 foot distance from others. If you come as a family, please respect the 6 foot distance others need and allow them to pass.
- Please do not use the plastic sheets containing the text of the stations. We have no one to sterilize them at this point and they could become a source of contagion.
- Instead, use the online versions, found at www.padreserra.org/stations. They work really well with your smartphone.
Holy Week and Easter
- We will be trying to observe a simplified, yet prayerful Holy Week / Triduum. This will include:
- the Chrism Mass, where the oils used in anointing the sick, baptism, confirmation and ordination are blessed;
- this will be streamed by the archdiocese, not the parish, and probably at lacatholics.org/tag/liturgy -- the actual URL has not been released yet.
- the Mass of the Lord’s Supper,
- the Good Friday service,
- the 10:00 am Easter morning Mass.
- The parish will stream them on the same channels as the Sunday Mass, above.
- the Chrism Mass, where the oils used in anointing the sick, baptism, confirmation and ordination are blessed;
Baptisms, weddings and funerals
- Baptisms, apart from danger of death, and baptismal classes are postponed indefinitely.
- Weddings are permitted with restrictions.
- The couple must have obtained a marriage license.
- With priest or deacon presiding, the couple may only have 7 guests, who must observe the 6 foot distancing.
- Only the brief wedding ceremony may be done, without the Mass and without instrumentalists or cantor, unless they are included among the 7 guests.
- Funeral Masses are replaced by the simple rites at the grave with a maximum of 10 attending, including the priest or deacon.
If you have general questions, email the parish (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the parish number (805) 482·6417 and Jane will direct your question to the right person.
In everything, we have to keep seeking those ways in which we can experience Jesus, even in a more constrained environment, and be His disciples in these troubled times.
Love from your priest,
As we move into this odd Lent of restrictions on our movements, and our current inability to work and support ourselves, I remember the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Ash Wednesday: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” (Matt 6:16-17).
That has a renewed meaning for us as we deal with enforced enclosure, boredom, difficulties in shopping, loneliness etc., that we are to do it with good will, with calmness, and with a supportive attitude to others who will be having a harder time than we are.
Regarding the parish:
- It looks like we will have a simple, heartfelt, online Mass on Sunday at 10:00 am. The archbishop limited the attendees to me and two others – for us, that will be a sacristan and a musician. Do not come to the church at that time, as the doors will have to be locked from 9:00 till 11:15 am or so. You can also watch them through YouTube.
- The parish offices have closed to comply with the directives from the state of California and the city of Ventura. Staff will come only rarely and briefly to accomplish essential tasks.
- We are answering messages left on the phone. So if you have a need, please call! But then be patient with us, as the staff are monitoring everything from their homes, and will be checking in occasionally, rather than being constantly at their desks. Non-emergency requests to meet will need to wait till after the crisis has passed.
- Because walks have been deemed correct, but gathering of any kind incorrect, the church building will be open till 9:00 at night. Still, only ten people may occupy it at any given time, sitting only in the designated chairs that will be set at safe distances from each other, and sanitized nightly.
- The Blessed Sacrament chapel will likewise remain open, but only two people may enter at any time.
- Reconciliation / Confessions will be held outside in the courtyard, on Saturday from 3:00 pm till 5:00 pm (or until after the last person after that time has made their confession). Chairs will be set out at over 6 feet from one another. I must ask that everyone maintain safe distances, even from close friends. There will be no penance service this lent.
- Parents of children making their first reconciliation! As we cannot pass anything from child to child, please bring the Act of Contrition with your children, and explain that the circumstances are unusual, but will work just fine.
- At the archbishop’s directions, I will be visiting only the very sick, following the most stringent guidelines (mask and gloves). Call the emergency line for this, but please do not wait until the last minute. It is so much better to talk with someone who is conscious, who can make their confession if they want to, and who can pray along.
- For both security and sanitation, the restrooms will remain locked all day.
I will leave you these words that have been attributed to Pope Francis:
“Tonight before falling asleep, think about when we will return to the street.
When we hug again, when all the shopping together will seem like a party.
Let’s think about when the coffees will return to the bar, the small talk, the photos close to each other.
We think about when it will be all a memory, but normalcy will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift.
We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us.
Every second will be precious.
Swims at the sea, the sun until late, sunsets, toasts, laughter.
We will go back to laughing together.
Strength and courage.
See you soon!”
At this time, Fr. Patrick offers Psalm 91:
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the Lord for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.
Because he clings to me I will deliver him;
because he knows my name I will set him on high.
He will call upon me and I will answer;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and give him honor.
With length of days I will satisfy him,
and fill him with my saving power.
Also visit: PSP/COVID-19
Regarding COVID-19 / the current novel coronavirus and Padre Serra Parish
Many of you have sent me emails regarding COVID-19, the current coronavirus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently evaluates the risk of people living in the United States, at this time (5:30 pm on 3/6/20), as being low. That might change, but we’ll do best if we evaluate the risks calmly and act in reasonable ways.
I would like to make the following suggestions:
- First, if at any time you feel ill, please remain at home. Do not come to church, work, or sports or send your children to school. To be clear, do not come to Mass while sick. Stay home, watch Mass on TV, and recover before returning.
- Wash your hands, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds of vigorous washing and avoid touching your face.
- We will temporarily suspend the reception of Communion from the chalice. We will return to our normal practice as soon as it is deemed reasonably safe.
- I ask that all those who receive Holy Communion on the tongue, to temporarily receive in the hand. If the minister’s hand touches anyone’s tongue or lips, that minister has to immediately step away from distributing communion any further.
- Instead of holding hands at the Our Father, let’s simply hold our hands up in a prayerful position.
- At the sign of peace, let’s offer each other, along with the prayer for peace, the warmest smiles, and the kindliest, respectful bows.
- After Mass, for the time being, I’ll still be outside to greet you, but no hugs or handshakes.
Good Friday is a most solemn day for all Christians. Catholics have a powerful liturgical service that takes us deep into the mystery of the passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In silence the clergy process in and lie prostrate around the altar as we begin. A beautiful and moving sung rendition of St. John’s Gospel account of the crucifixion is proclaimed followed by a solemn presentation of a wooden cross “on which hung the Savior of the world.”
The assembly then processes to the cross to kiss or touch it in an act of veneration. The service continues with the distribution of Holy Communion. All depart in silence. The cross is displayed in the church throughout the afternoon for those who wish to visit and pray.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins with the Presentation of the Holy Oils consecrated by our archbishop, Jose Gomez, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at the Chrism Mass the previous Monday. The Oil of the Sick will be used to anoint those who suffer illness. The Oil of the Catechumens will be used to anoint those preparing for baptism. The Sacred Chrism, oil mixed with sweet perfume, will be used to anoint the baptized who are to be sealed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
The Scripture readings at this mass take us from the Exodus story of Israel’s preparations for the flight from Egypt to the Last Supper with Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and telling us to do the same. In obedience we wash one another’s feet (the “Mandatum”), we celebrate the Eucharist, and we process with the Body of Christ from the church to the Altar of Repose in the Serra Center where we can spend time in prayerful reflection and in adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Also visit: Triduum
The liturgies of Palm Sunday begin with the celebration of the Lord’s triumphal messianic entry into Jerusalem to the acclaim of crowds shouting “Hosanna!” We gather in the courtyard to hear the proclamation of the Gospel account of this event. Palms are blessed and distributed, followed by a procession into the church.
Palms are an ancient symbol of victory and Catholics often display the palms, received this Sunday, on a crucifix in their homes. The Hebrew word Hosanna means “(O Lord) grant salvation” but it has become an acclamation of jubilation and welcome.
Once inside the church, the focus shifts to Jesus’ suffering and death as we hear the proclamation of his Passion from the Gospel of Mark this year. We celebrate the Eucharist with Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper still echoing in our minds and hearts.
Photos by Julius Acero
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