A Message from Father Michael Betram of St. Benedict & St. Francis Churches

March 19, 2020

Dear friends, This past weekend was eerily quiet for me without having Mass with you. But at the same time, it created a silence and a quiet that drew me into the season of Lent in a very reflective way. I hope some of the same was your experience.

As we are only entering this time of the Coronavirus, I am canceling weekend Masses at St. Benedict and St. Francis for the next two weekends. We will re-open on Palm Sunday, April 5th. Although Milwaukee has not done so, other dioceses [Detroit, Chicago, Grand Rapids] have cancelled Masses over this same time period. Let me say very quickly that we may need to cancel Masses even further if conditions do not improve by April 5th.

The Gospel Music Workshop, scheduled for this Saturday, March 21st, has also been canceled.

Some unthinkable institutions [the NBA, St. Paddy’s Day celebrations, casinos, schools, bars and restaurants] have responded to this pandemic in a most responsible manner. The Church needs to do likewise.

One experience of mine this past weekend was that I missed you. My Sundays include you, and without you, it doesn’t feel like the Lord’s Day. After all, you are the Body of Christ. Let us remember how we personally bring Christ to one another in this time when he need the assurance of the Lord’s presence ever more. I’ll “talk” to you later this week again. Take care.

– Fr. Mike

Things to do:

Pray. Lent is a time of prayer and the closing of events and restrictions in moving about publicly give us the time to do more of that praying. If you’re washing your hands for 20 seconds and singing “Happy Birthday”, you might think of praying during those moments instead of singing.

Look after others. Please check on friends and neighbors, especially those that are at the most risk. Try to use email, phone calls and texts to communicate and keep contact to a minimum.

Address racism and ignorance. As the coronavirus made its first big appearance in China and then moved to other countries like South Korea, Iran and Italy, it has given rise to racism and discrimination against people of other countries. It has created a sense of blame that feeds the fears of those who would isolate America from the world. Many have said how this is a time to care even more for one another; that extends to the nations of the world as much as it does to individuals in our community and country.

Encourage one another. The coronavirus is something that practically no one has ever experienced on a scale that many cannot imagine. We need to counter our fear and panic with hope and encouragement.

Call if you are in need. We underestimate the power of the spoken word. When we bring thoughts and feelings to word, we release a power or control that those thoughts and feelings have over us. Don’t be afraid to just call someone and talk, or especially if you are in need of something. Feel free to call me if that is helpful. One parishioner mentioned to me that part of missing Mass is missing my voice and the comfort that it brings at a time like this. I appreciate the compliment. Don’t hesitate to call me or someone you trust and love to find that same strength at a time when we feel a little helpless. Definitely call if you need something like food or medicine. We can work to get something to you. If you are willing to make yourself available for running such needed items to people in need, call or text me; use my cell phone: 920-960-3593.

Take care of your own health. Eating well can build up your immune system. Some checkpoints in our diet include cheese, eggs, milk, and nuts for the protein that they provide. Unsweetened fruits and low-sodium vegetables are important. Fiber is essential and can be found in popcorn! Popcorn is a grain that contains antioxidants and fiber. So allow yourself this treat during the time of the coronavirus and feel good about doing it. Do some simple exercise at home. It releases endorphins that keep us positive in our thoughts and attitudes.

Daily motivation and inspiration. Check out this website for 30 Days of Kindness Practice for ways to make this coronavirus time productive and positive for yourself and others: https://characterstrong.lpages.co/kind-a-journal/

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