Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Wishing you a Merry Christmas on this final day of the liturgical season, and every blessing for the New Year!
We all know that we will continue to face challenges ahead related to the COVID-19 pandemic – as a parish, as a civic community, as families, in our workplaces and schools. By now we all know the ways to promote safety and prevent more people from getting infected. Here at St. Gabriel, we are striving to take those measures seriously, even when we grow tired of the ways this disease has impacted so many areas of our life. Particularly in these winter months, we will have to be as diligent as ever, making sure that we don’t become lax in our wearing of masks, limiting physical contact, and hand hygiene. Evidence of a more contagious strain is causing concern among public health experts. Let us support one another in keeping vigilant, but also in going out of our way to connect with loved ones, friends, and neighbors in other creative ways. Checking on the well-being of a neighbor, for example, is truly doing the work of Christ in these circumstances!
In the meantime, the new coronavirus vaccines are becoming available for those who work in healthcare and those who are among the most vulnerable to getting serious illness. This is a very hopeful development, an answer to prayer, and an example of how we can use our God-given gifts and resources to advance the common good.
For some individuals, there may be some uncertainty as to whether they can or should receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, just as with our understanding of the pandemic, there is a great deal of inaccurate or incomplete information circulating about the vaccine. From a medical perspective, be sure to bring any concerns to your trusted and well-informed health care provider. Online sources of questionable authority and expertise are not reliable guides. It is true that some number of adults may have unique circumstances that justify delaying or avoiding the vaccine. But for the majority of the population, getting vaccinated is both medically and morally permissible. Furthermore, it could even be considered a positive good in terms of the protection it affords to self and neighbor. From a moral standpoint, the Vatican, the Catholic bishops of the United States, and Bishop Ricken have unequivocally stated that being vaccinated against COVID-19 is not objectionable.
If you are seeking a general medical perspective from an informed and reputable source, consider reading the Q&A from Mayo clinic at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-vaccine/art-20484859. (For those who don’t know, Mayo clinic has a rich Catholic history, originally founded as a collaborative effort between the Mayo brothers and the Sisters of St. Francis in Rochester, MN.)
As we go forward discerning God’s will for ourselves and our community, please know that we are committed to being available to each of you and your families in the different challenges you may experience. We will continue to provide sacraments and support in whatever ways we are able. As St. Paul reminds us, we are one Body in Christ, and our well-being is tied together in good times and bad. May we continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus and with one another.