Dear Friends and Families of Saint Miriam,

I hope you will watch my video and that it brings you some deeper understanding into our collective decision to move back to a temporary, virtual only format. As we all recognize, sadly, the COVID-19 Pandemic is not lessening, but strengthening in its veracity. Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, of Montgomery County, stated clearly in our teleconference yesterday that there is presently “A big, explosive growth”, and today we wake to find that in the US we the highest daily death toll in six months.

As we fail so often to heed the warnings of health care professionals and to take needed steps to flatten down the curve we literally sacrifice, not our freedoms, but those we love and people we may never know who may be impacted by our choices. Therefore, I feel it is incumbent upon us, as a parish of welcome and where every life matters, to set aside our personal and corporate desire to gather, to assist in our small, collective way in bringing this pandemic to an end, and permit us years of life and happiness together.

To that end, the following will be implemented at Saint Miriam immediately:

Church: We will temporarily restrict in-person worship and bring our worship experience to you via Livestream on Sundays. We will increase our noted desire of families to stay connected by implementing a formatted Family Mass at 9:00am where the CFF team will present based on the virtual lessons of that week.

Faith Formation: Children’s Faith Formation classes are all virtual format. Anyone enrolled in the in-person CFF option will now automatically be enrolled in Virtual CFF until it is safe to return. Anyone who did not enroll before the deadline, may now enroll in virtual option again by visiting our website under ‘Education.’

Readers/Lectors: Are asked to record virtually to continue their ministry and participation.

School: Our school will remain open as long as permitted by the heath authorities with continued temperature checks, mask requirements (teachers and staff at school; all at church), and with distancing between families when dropping off and picking up children. We are also adding immediate Enhanced Screening questions to the check-in process to keep everyone safe, and we will continue extra daily cleaning protocols and Saturday ‘deep cleaning’ of the school. Effective immediately there will be no volunteer access to the building during school hours.

Retreat Center: Only private groups, of the same family household, no mixing is permitted. There will be no formal or led retreats at this time. Only personal reflection and individual Rhythm of Prayer days permitted.

Cemetery: Our Cemetery offices are closed to walk-in inquiries; information available via email or phone remains. Internments will be permitted with no more than ten (10), socially distanced, masked persons in attendance.

Friary: Our Friary is closed to additional overnight guests or visiting clergy.

I realize that some of you may not be in agreement with these decisions, but I assure you that your best interests are in the heart of each resolution. I also am not sure that we can survive another shut down without the on-going support of those who traditionally have used giving envelopes and are not doing so because we are limited to only virtual gatherings.

If you prefer a non-electronic method of giving, please, please consider sending a check directly to our parish. We need your support whether you are here or not and we simply cannot make it without your support. Our overhead continues despite being virtual.

I will simply allow God to help us through this time and inspire all to be generous and protective of the home we have created here at Saint Miriam. If it is found to be valuable and worth keeping vibrant and fiscally sound, we will still give generously to achieve even greater things when we are together in person again. If not, it has been a wonderful run of so many joys. I am luckier for having served as your pastor.

Praying for a better 2021.

In Hope through our Blessed Mother, Mary and Her Son,

Monsignor +Jim