Latest Pastor’s Messages
UPDATES DURING THE PRECAUTIONS AGAINST THE CORONAVIRUS
LETTER FROM FR. HOMERO ABOUT
THE UNIFICATION WITH ST. CLARE
JULY 12, 2020
We are going through moments of important changes and adjustments in our daily life and in our faith community.
On July 1, we had the joy of receiving the Church of St. Clare of Montefalco as a chapel that unites to the Parish of St. Rita of Cascia. It is an immense joy to know that we grow as a parish. Now we will have the opportunity to be part of a larger, more diverse Church, but above all, more full of faith.
Just as our joy is immense, so also is great the responsibility entrusted to us, not only to me as the pastor, but also to you, because we are on this journey of faith TOGETHER, as a family.
The Gospel tells us that “the one who receives me receives the one who sent me.” This is a call to be open and willing to receive all those who are added to our parish.
Among them, I am delighted to know that just as you are with me, so also are the members of the parish team, St. Rita as well as St. Clare. I announce that the pastoral team will grow much more during this time. Fr. Vito Martínez, OFM Cap., has been appointed parochial vicar, along with him, Fr. Ray Flores, OSA, also continues as a parochial vicar. We will be three priests serving in this new parish of St. Rita. Also with our Deacons David Andrade and Oscar González, Deacon Vicente Haro and his wife Leticia join our pastoral team.
We are delighted by who joins our pastoral team, and also by all the members of the Church of St. Clare of Montefalco and St. Rita of Cascia who formed a new parish beginning July 1.
May the spirit of wisdom that characterized St. Clare and the peacemaking spirit and constancy in the faith that brought St. Rita to holiness accompany us on our journey.
May these two holy women pray for us.
Your pastor in Christ,
REGISTER FOR MASS THIS SUNDAY!
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE ATTENDING A CELEBRATION IN ST. RITA
YOU MUST READ ALL THIS INFORMATION BEFORE REGISTERING, PLEASE!
Registrations to attend Mass ARE REQUIRED – without exception. Please sign up through Eventbrite. Reservations will be accepted ONLY on this registration page, as well as by phone (773-434-9600) with the secretaries in the office, although online is MOST PREFERRED. Reservations for the following Sunday’s Masses will open on Tuesday at 10 am.
- Sign up for the Mass you want to attend. Under “Quantity,” you must choose the total number of people of your HOUSEHOLD that will attend (include each person – no matter the age) and we need the name of each person who is attending.
- The capacity of each Mass is limited to 50 people per mass, at least during the first few weeks.
- Reservations will be required in order to limit the number of people and for the purpose of identifying contacts in case someone tests positive with the virus.
- If you need to cancel your reservation, please call the rectory by Saturday at 1 pm to do so.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Arrive at least 20 minutes before Mass because there is a long process to enter (doors open 30 minutes before each Mass).
- Stay home if you or someone in your home is sick or has a fever.
- If you or someone in your home has had contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus in the last 14 days, please do not come to Mass.
- Masks or face coverings are required to enter and remain in the church.
- When you arrive, you will have to form a line outside the Fairfield entrance.
- You will enter ONLY through the middle doors of Fairfield Ave.
DURING THE MASS
- There will be no collection during Mass. Please bring your donation or envelope and put it in one of the boxes that will be in the entrances.
- You will be told how to receive communion. Holy Communion will be distributed only in the form of the host, and only in the hand. If a person does not want to receive it in the hand, the minister will offer him or her a blessing.
AFTER THE MASS
- You must leave ONLY through the doors of Washtenaw Ave. and leave immediately after Mass so that the disinfection team has time to clean up everything before the next Mass (we have to ask that you do not stay to pray, talk to others, or light any candles).
Remember: All these norms and directives exist to protect each other. We are God’s people and the Mass is a celebration of our unity in Jesus Christ. If we protect each other, we are doing a work of mercy.
Thank you for your cooperation and patience and we can’t wait to welcome you back to St. Rita!
- Note: The number of COVID-19 cases in our neighborhood is high and there is a risk of contamination. Although our parish staff will attempt to take appropriate precautions consistent with the advice of public health authorities, parishioners and guests should understand that they take the risk of getting COVID-19 at any time they enter a public space as such precautions do not eliminate the risk of infection.
- With affection, we recommend that the following people stay at home: people over 65, people with underlying health problems , (e.g. diabetes) and people caring for the sick.
We will continue to livestream the Masses of 10 am and 12 pm, so that those who cannot attend in person can still participate in the Masses of St. Rita. The dispensation to attend Sunday Mass and Days of Obligation continues.
Registrations for each Sunday will open the Tuesday before at 10 am and registrations will end 24 hours before the Mass starts.
URGENT – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR RE-OPENING
We need lots of volunteers to serve in the re-opening teams of St. Rita that consist of people to greet and seat parishioners, function as ushers, and disinfect after the Masses and other celebrations.
It is imperative that we find volunteers who can help as form various teams to serve at the Sunday masses, daily masses and other celebrations such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, confessions and memorial masses.
In order for us to have a successful reopening we are in need of your assistance, especially of your time and talent.
The ability to increase the number of people who can attend our Sunday Masses depends on having sufficient volunteers to fulfill the Requirements of the Archdiocese to guarantee the safety of everyone. If you are between the ages of 18-64, are healthy, and do not have any underlying condition, you may be a volunteer. Please go to our Parish Reopening Volunteer Form, call the office and leave a message for Fr. Ray Flores, or email him at email@example.com. We will contact you for a training.
Thank you for your time and dedication.
UPDATE FROM FATHER HOMERO – JUNE 13, 2020
Dear Parishioners of St. Rita:
The official time to stay at home, by the authorities of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois, has come to an end, but that does not mean that the time to take care of yourself is over. Now more than ever, it’s time to take care of yourself and maintain social distance, especially with the reopening of churches, shopping malls, parks, and restaurants.
In St. Rita, the time to remain closed has also come to an end. In our beautiful parish we are already celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, and Mass for Funerals and Weddings. The time to reunite as a community is approaching. Sunday, June 28, will be the first Sunday in St. Rita that we will celebrate Sunday Mass, to begin at normal times, Spanish Masses at 8 am and 12 pm and at 10 am in English. Although it will only be for 50 people at the beginning to increase our capacity little by little.
I know that some parishes have made a firm determination to open their doors earlier. However, in St. Rita we want to make sure we are ready to take all the necessary steps to make you healthy and calm.
Sunday Masses will continue to be broadcast via Facebook and this website. I know we are already eager to return to receiving the Body of Christ, however, I ask you to be patient.
This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi with joy, the feast of the Lord’s Body and Blood, one of my favorite celebrations, for it is the same Christ who wants to enter into us and do wonderful works through each of our actions. Brothers and sisters, let us stand firm in faith knowing that Christ himself visits us, if it is not at this time in the physical bread, let us know that he is always with us spiritually.
Finally, I just want to reiterate that in St. Rita we are doing everything we can to make sure that when we return we are sure and ready to be safe.
My prayers for you and your loved ones.
Your Favorite Pastor
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ST. RITA’S RE-OPENING – JUNE 2020
Unless we need to change, there will be confessions at the normal time every Saturday from 11 am – 12 pm. No reservations are needed. Mask required and you must enter through the Fairfield Ave. doors.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION – PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DAY! Until further notice, there will be the distribution of food in front of the church at the 63rd Street entrance from 1 to 2 pm EVERY TUESDAY on a first come, first serve basis. PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN BAG AND WEAR A MASK.
In person Sunday Masses will resume at St. Rita on Sunday, June 28.
- Masses will be the regular times of 8 am, 10 am and 12 pm.
- Capacity for each Mass will be limited to 50 people per Mass, at least for the first week.
- Reservations will be required so that we can limit this number and for the purpose of contact tracing if anyone in attendance should end up testing positive for the virus.
- Reservations will ONLY be accepted through a link on this website and Facebook page or by calling the parish office, although online is HIGHLY PREFERRED. Reservations for June 28 will begin on Tuesday, June 23 at 5 pm.
- You will only be able to enter the church through the Fairfield Ave. doors and exit through Washtenaw and 63rd St. doors.
- Masks will be required at all times, there will be designated spots to sit in the pews, and other parts of the liturgy will be modified (offertory, collection, communion, etc).
- We will continue to live stream the 10 am and 12 pm Masses at least at the beginning so that those unable to attend in person will still be able to participate in the Masses of St. Rita. The dispensation from attending Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation will continue. We advise that the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions stay at home and participate through live streamed and televised Masses.
- The re-opening team will be recording a video to demonstrate all the new procedures and requirements and we will upload it as soon as it is ready.
Thank you for your continued cooperation and we cannot wait to welcome you back to St. Rita!
RE-OPENING OF PARISH OFFICE
Our Parish Office Hours are:
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 7:30 pm
Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm
Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm
Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm
No one will be admitted through the patio door. You must use the office door on Fairfield. Mask required to enter, please.
When our office is not open, for any important business or emergency, you may call us at 773-434-9600 and leave a message. We check messages daily. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is checked several times a day.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ST. RITA’S RE-OPENING – MAY 29, 2020
This week, St. Rita received from the Archdiocese of Chicago the certification to open the Phase 1 of the Re-Opening Process.
Remember, Phase 1 is for confessions and infant baptisms, funerals, and weddings of 10 people or less. For the moment, the church is NOT open for Masses, private prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or for parish groups. As we have said before, we will proceed with caution with every step.
Our first event will be Confessions on Saturday, May 30 from 11 am to 12 pm. We will have time to listen to about 30-40 confession, so if you come and see a line outside, you may have to wait until the following Saturday.
Soon, we will have a video to explain the directives and mandates in order to participate in the events and celebrations we will have. The church looks different, so please remember to observe the guidelines and follow the greeters’ instructions and be patient with the volunteers and others attending.
On the day of Pentecost, the apostles received the fire of the Holy Spirit to inflame their hearts with love and the desire to evangelize. Please be patient and be careful during this process so that we celebrate the gift of life without risk.
Thank you – and COME Holy Spirit!
- The Church will be open from 11 am ‐ 12 pm this Saturday, May 30, for Confessions ONLY (no private prayer).
- You do NOT need an appointment, but the number of people able to Confess will be limited to 30‐40 people total (there will be 3 priests and tickets/numbers will be issued upon arrival).
- Only 10 people will be allowed inside at any time. Others will have to wait outside until it is their turn.
- You may enter ONLY through the middle doors on Fairfield Ave. where a greeter will explain more.
- You must wear a mask at all times inside the church.
- You must leave immediately after your confession to allow someone else to enter.
- You may exit ONLY through the middle doors of Washtenaw Ave.
- Individual baptisms and weddings and funerals with 10 or fewer participants will be allowed starting this week.
- The church will NOT be open for any private prayer or Adoration until further notice and there will be NO Sunday or Daily Mass.
- We will keep you informed as things continue to develop.
- We look forward to welcoming you back!
MESSAGE FROM FR. HOMERO – MAY 20, 2020
Reopening Plan for St. Rita of Cascia Church amid COVID-19
Hello St. Rita Family,
I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy. As you may have seen, Cardinal Cupich recently shared our multi-phased plan for reopening churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
- Phase I allows for parishes to reopen for Baptism, Reconciliation, Weddings and Funerals with a limit of 10 attendees.
- Phase IA allows for parishes to reopen for private prayer and adoration with a limit of 10 attendees.
- Phase II allows for reopening for weekday and weekend Masses for larger groups depending on the guidelines from the state and the capacity of the church building.
Our St. Rita Reopening Plan – First and foremost, it is important for everyone to understand that our efforts will prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all while maintaining due respect and reverence for the sacraments and liturgical norms of our faith.
I have assembled a Parish Reopening Leadership Team to lead our efforts. This team consists of:
Federico Padilla – Co-Leader
José Sandoval – Co-Leader
Jenny Meehan – Compliance Manager
Baltazar Melecio – Greeter Captain
Gaby Garcia – Cleaning Captain
Elisa Melecio – Set-Up Captain
Together, we have attended required training from the Archdiocese to ensure that our parish reopening plan conforms to the guidelines developed by the Archdiocese in collaboration with civil and healthcare authorities.
Volunteers Needed – We will need volunteers to assist with various aspects of our parish reopening plan. Importantly, leadership team members and volunteers must not be part of a “vulnerable population” (that is, not over the age of 65; no underlying medical condition such as diabetes; lung disease; undergoing cancer treatment, etc.). I ask all of you who are younger than 65 and healthy with no underlying health conditions to consider assisting with one of three reopening teams:
- Set-up team. Sample duties include ensuring that all supplies needed for each sacramental celebration/gathering are ready for use, entrances and exits are marked and propped physically open prior to attendees’ arrival/departure, windows are opened, etc.
- Greeting team. Sample duties include assisting in managing the flow of congregants as they enter the church, making sure attendees use hand sanitizer upon entering, are wearing a mask, and are reminded not to enter if ill; directing people to appropriate seating/waiting areas, etc.
- Cleaning team. Sample duties include maintaining and cleaning essential and trafficked areas of the church before and after the church has been used. Masks and gloves will be provided, if you do not have your own, in addition to approved cleaning/disinfecting supplies.
The Reopening Leadership Team and I will make sure that all volunteers and properly trained. Please send us a message at email@example.com or call 773-434-9600, ext 10 to indicate your willingness and ability to volunteer. From those that step forward, we will also request that some act as volunteer captains to help lead each of the three teams.
Timing for Our Reopening – As I mentioned, the Parish Reopening Leadership Team members and I needed to complete required training, which is taking place this week. Once we complete the training, we will need to review and complete tasks assigned to all parishes as part of a reopening certification process to be approved by the Archdiocese. Therefore, the soonest that any parish in the Archdiocese can open for sacramental celebrations, private prayer or Eucharistic Adoration is the weekend of May 23. However, our parish, like all others in the archdiocese, will move forward at a pace and timing appropriate for its own situation.
Following our training and certification approval, we will only open our church once the Reopening Leadership Team and I feel confident that we have the right volunteers in place to make it possible to reopen. Again, the need for parishioner assistance cannot be overstated. The guidelines and measures required to reopen are designed to protect our wellbeing and that of the of our broader community. As Cardinal Cupich has noted, from the first pages of Scripture we learn that we indeed are “our brother’s keeper.” Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed, “that they all may be one” (Jn 17:21) and commanded us “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). Our collective patience, willingness to help and the care we take to reopen is a demonstration of our unity and love for one another.
May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways. If you have any questions, please contact me at 773-434-9600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Homero – Pastor
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 6, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Rita Parish,
Holy Week has arrived, yet this is a unique Holy Week in our lives. Reflecting a little on what we are living and how we will live our most important week, the most holy week of the year, I wonder whether the first disciples were just as afraid as we are, after Jesus ascended into heaven and left them “seemingly” alone.
Christians between the years 33 and 313 AD were persecuted and considered as enemies of the Roman Empire, the same empire under which Jesus died. Christians of the early centuries of the Church were constantly living in fear, because they were persecuted, imprisoned and martyred. However, even with fear they gathered to celebrate Easter, the Eucharist and loved each other so much that people said “look at those Christians, see how they love one another.”
Today, thank God, in most of our American continent, we are no longer being persecuted and we can practice our faith freely. However, this year we cannot gather, because of an enemy who sets a trap for humanity and we are condemned to the disease and death of the present, COVID-19. But even so, we have faith, and we can celebrate that Christ LIVES in the midst of us, and that he has left us his Holy Spirit, the Spirit that helps us to not be afraid, because we know that he is with us “every day until the end of the world.”
Now it is up to us to celebrate as a true family, at home, without going out to the street and without gathering in the Church during Holy Week. We have made much progress since the Christians were persecuted in the 4th century – now we have the fortune to have Facebook, Internet, websites, etc., where even in the distance we can see and celebrate the Eucharist and other acts of piety together. Now, it is also the time to remember that we are all priests consecrated in our Baptism. Now, in this Holy Week, it is up to you as head of the family to preside over the celebration of Easter.
In these Holy days we can celebrate Holy Week together in the distance, from our homes, with some particular actions:
- On Holy Thursday, I invite every head of family – father, mother, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, etc. – to read the passage of the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, sit at the table and the head of the family bless the table and the bread, tortillas, and food.
- On Good Friday, let us pray, the Stations of the Cross, abstain from excessive noise and meditate on the Passion of Jesus.
- On Holy Saturday afternoon, let us turn off the lights of our house and keep a candle lit while we pray and see how the light of the candle illuminates the house, just as Christ illuminates our lives.
- On Easter Sunday, let us rejoice and put a white flag in our houses in a sign of hope, knowing after death follows life. This will be the sign of knowing that after this quarantine the life of Christ that is in us will continue with much more joy.
Brothers and sisters, let us have the firm faith that Christ accompanies us in our fears and anxieties, let us trust that he heals our lives. Remember that after death there is always life. The darkness of disease and epidemic will never defeat the Life, Christ himself who is our hope.
Christ lives and together with him we will also live without fear and in peace.
Your brother in the Resurrected Christ,
Fr. Homero Sánchez, OSA
Pastor of St. Rita
We know that these are difficult times for everyone and that money is scarce in many families in our community, especially for those who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut due to the pandemic. We are at your service to accompany and guide you looking for accessible resources to alleviate this extreme situation. Do not hesitate to call us. We will assist you with all the information at our disposal.
Firstly, I want to thank those of you who have signed up and given electronically during these past weeks or have been mailing in your envelopes. To the best of what you are able, I ask that you help us with your little bit that will allow us to continue serving the parish community during this difficult time. CLICK HERE to donate electronically through Give Central. It is safe and secure to use it. You can create a profile, or donate as a “guest.” Further, you can donate one time or sign up to donate automatically every week. Opportunities to donate for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter, all the other regular collections can also be found on the Give Central page. Or, if you prefer, you can mail your collection envelope with a check or with this PDF Form to the rectory (Do not mail cash).
Thank you for your continued generosity. Please be assured that we will continue to pray for you and your families. Join us in our Masses, prayers and other resources through Facebook and on this website page. You can send us your mass intentions online also. Just because we need to practice “social distancing” does not mean we are isolated from each other. Please reach out to us. We are here for you.
God bless you!
Fr. Homero Sánchez, OSA
Pastor of St. Rita
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 2, 2020
Dear Parents of Religious Education and all Parishioners:
I hope that in the midst of so much anxiety, the peace of knowing that Christ is with us is a comfort and support. Remember that in the midst of so much chaos and change of routine, that you are the first educators of your sons’ and daughters’ faith.
I recommend that within this religious education that you can offer from your homes, you become accustomed to continuing to participate in the Mass, either through this website or our Facebook page every Sunday at 10 am in English and at 12 pm in Spanish.
Also remember that we are still working spiritually for each of you. Please pay close attention because the date for the First Communions has changed to Saturday, June 13, 2020. Again, the First Communions will be Saturday, June 13, at 9 am.
For the moment, Confirmations remain on the same date scheduled – Saturday, May 2, at 3 pm. If there is any change on the part of the bishop we will let you know, as soon as we know something. It is very difficult at this time to know what will happen in a month, but we will confirm with you as soon as the Archbishop of Chicago allows us to open the church.
Remember that St. Rita is the “advocate of impossible cases.” Please continue to pray that through her intercession this pandemic will end soon.
Remember also that Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday. We have adorned the church with palms on the railings. If you want to come to take one, you can do so on Sunday after 8 am, remembering to maintain social distancing when you are here.
God is with us at every moment in our lives. Let us not lose hope and stand firm in faith.
Fr. Homero Sánchez, OSA
Pastor of St. Rita
UPDATE AS OF MARCH 27, 2020
We all know how difficult and complicated a situation we are all living through right now. Many of you may no longer be working or receiving an income. We are also isolated in our homes, which goes against our very nature as social beings. We need to maintain some connection with one another and social media is one way the parish will continue to do so.
We will continue to broadcast private Masses celebrated by our priests on Sundays at 10am in English and 12pm in Spanish. You may view these Masses live on this website homepage or our Facebook page. They will remain online to also view during the week. If you would like any prayer requests for these Masses, please submit them BY CLICKING HERE no later than the Friday before the Mass.
Besides the Sunday Mass, Deacon Oscar is also doing Facebook live bible study and reflections in Spanish every day at 12pm.
We will also have many other announcements and resources there every day. Please “like” the parish Facebook page if you have not yet.
Finally, if you currently do not receive our weekly newsletter, we urge you to please sign up HERE and provide your name and email address so that we can send out notices to you with information.
For any important business or emergency, you may still call the office at 773-434-9600 and leave a message. We have the capability to listen to our messages while we are away from the office. You may also email us at email@example.com for any other needs or questions and one of us will return your message as soon as possible.
We pray that things will be able to return to normal soon. It will indeed be very sad to not celebrate the holiest and most important days of our faith together. We had many plans and wanted to have a wonderful collaboration with our brothers and sisters of St. Clare Parish during Holy Week. But you can be assured that once this is over, the celebration will be unforgettable! While it will be much longer than three days, we are in the tomb with Jesus right now. But we all know the incredible joy and glory that came with his Resurrection. Do not lose hope! And do not fear!
Thank you for your cooperation and your generosity. Our prayers are with all of you, the members of St. Rita Parish.
St. Rita of Cascia, patroness of impossible cases, PRAY FOR US!
Fr. Homero Sánchez, OSA – Pastor of St. Rita of Cascia Parish