A message from Bishop Powers . . .
November 20, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we prepare for the Solemnity of Christ the King, it is with hope and faith in Our Lord’s power and desire to bring healing to our world. He is the Divine Physician, and we know that His will is to heal; He is the Good Shepherd, and we know that His will is to lead, guide and protect His sheep.
It is rooted in this confidence that I write to you again, imploring the faithful of the diocese and calling upon your goodwill. With the significant rise in positive COVID cases throughout our diocese, we must once again assess the seriousness of the situation.
Last spring, I had to make the most difficult decision of my time as Bishop, by temporarily halting Holy Mass. As we resumed Masses this summer, the dispensation of the obligation to attend Mass remained in place until September. At that time the numbers of new COVID-19 cases were relatively few. However, due to a number of factors including the start of the new school year and the fall and winter like weather keeping us inside more, over the past few weeks we have seen a drastic increase in the new, active COVID-19 cases throughout all 16 counties that make up the Diocese of Superior.
On November 10, Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order asking all Wisconsinites to stay home as much as possible and avoid large gatherings. Today, November 19, he extended his Statewide Public Health Emergency efforts plan to January 2021.
Given the rapid increase of new, active COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks with no relief in sight, and after much prayer and consultation, I have once again decided to grant the Catholic faithful of the Diocese of Superior a general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. This dispensation will remain in force until further notice.
I pray that this action will help in preventing the further spread of this terrible disease. I further pray that this will relieve the burden of conscience many, who should not have returned to Mass after the general dispensation was lifted, were having. With the general dispensation back in place, I hope those who have health issues that put them at high risk of contracting COVID-19 or prevent them from being able to wear a mask will be able to in good conscience make the wise choice.
I want to make it perfectly clear that with the reinstating of the General Dispensation I am NOT issuing a closure of public Masses on Sundays or weekdays. We will continue to celebrate Mass with parishioners who are able to attend and willing to follow the proper health protocols which are in force and include the wearing of appropriate masks.
With the reissuing of the General Dispensation from the Sunday obligation you will still need to make sound and pertinent decisions for you and your family. If you are in any of the following categories:
- has tested positive for COVID-19 or come in close contact with someone who has tested positive in the past 14 days,
- are running a fever,
- has a cough or who has COVID/flu like symptoms, and/or
- are in the ‘at risk’ category due to age, compromised immune system, respiratory issues, diabetes, or if you believe attending Mass would pose an undue risk to other family members,
For your sake and for that of others please stay home and join in a Spiritual Communion via one of the virtual celebrations of the Mass being broadcast throughout the Diocese and beyond.
Although I am reinstating the General Dispensation from the Sunday obligation, I am confident that if we follow our current practices of social distancing, sanitization, face masks, and the other protocols that we have in place, those who choose to continue to attend Mass and receive the sacraments will continue to be safe.
But again, we need to be smart about what we do. In spite of your personal feelings about wearing masks, the State of Wisconsin requires the wearing of masks. Scientific evidence has shown that wearing face masks reduces the transmission of COVID-19. Despite the controversy over whether to wear one or not, we must realize that as faith-filled Catholics we adhere to the calling of God to care for others. With the increased spread of COVID-19, it is therefore our responsibility to do what we can to limit exposure of this virus and ‘slow the spread’. We need to listen to the word of God in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”
At this time, I am also instructing those parishes which have begun to reintroduce congregational singing to stop. If we offer this up as part of our Advent sacrifice, by God’s grace we will hopefully be able to joyfully join the choir of angels as they proclaim, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Out of love for our fellow brothers and sisters, I am asking that all parishes, schools and parish religious education programs, continue to require masks until we see a significant decline in the number of positive cases. Those who are unable to medically wear a mask are asked to take alternative precautions. This request is of course in addition to continued sanitization, social distancing, and handwashing.
At the Last Supper, Our Lord implored the Father that His Church would always be one (John 17:21). Let us all join together in solidarity with each other to do our part to slow the spread of this very contagious virus and let us refuse to allow the enemy to use these simple efforts to sow seeds of division among us.
Please know of my daily and earnest prayers for your health, safety and holiness,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. James P. Powers
Bishop, Diocese of Superior
Congratulations to our 2020 Parish Stewardship Award Winner . . .
Mary B. Thums!
This year’s parish stewardship award winner has been active in the Church since a youth. But we will focus on this person’s current ministries in the parish at this time. Much of her involvement includes the assistance of her spouse, which is the case with so many couples in this parish.
This person has been a Eucharistic Minister at the parish for many, many years, sometimes taking Holy Communion to the homebound, as needed. Other involvement at Mass includes being a Mass counter and sacristan. There are times this lady has been called upon to make baptismal stoles for adults or older children, and do special sewing projects, such as making new cloths for our offertory table—even so far as making the Corpus Christi canopy that was used in the past. We expected to use it again this year, but COVID-19 has pushed it off until next June.
Her sewing abilities have been put to many good uses, including quilt making. Every year’s Fall Festival included a homemade quilt for our large item raffle. Quilts are continually made by her and donated to many causes, including the Abiding Care Pregnancy Resource Center’s Receptions for Life. This person was also a former board member for that organization, and continues to support their efforts. She is also involved with POPS and their annual garage sale, and supportive of the efforts of many other community events.
This individual has a special heart for our young people, and her husband has also been involved with this as well. While she serves every year on our Vacation Bible School committee helping our youth with crafts, her husband makes sure their grandchildren are rounded up for a week of fun during that time. Their love for all their children and grandchildren is demonstrated by their involvement in each of their lives.
This person has been involved in the ministry of our parish food pantry for many years. She and her husband shop for the pantry whenever it needs to be restocked. They also supplied the pantry with many personal food items as well. She is a frugal and smart shopper, which has also benefited her position to serve on our parish Finance Committee. When special needs arise in the parish, she and her husband are often there to make those needs a reality.
This individual also works at most funeral dinners and is often seen working in the kitchen at our Fall Festivals along with her husband.
Through the difficulties and challenges in her life, her faith has remained rock solid. She helped her mother as she struggled with cancer. She took her father and deacon into her home before his battle with cancer ended. She and her husband supported their son through his debilitating and tragic accident and personal struggles, and now encourages him in his accomplishments in the World Wheelchair Curling Championships. She is cheerleader for her children and grandchildren in all of life’s encounters. She is friend to many, a person with a big heart, a big smile, a positive attitude, and a kind word.
Our many thanks and congratulations to our 2020 Stewardship Award winner, Mary B. Thums!
Posted on June 3, 2020
Fr. Raj announces a return to the celebration of the Mass at Good Shepherd!
Finally—we return to the celebration of the Mass in the Diocese of Superior! In our online meeting with Bishop Powers yesterday, we discussed the required practices for attending Mass at this time, while still keeping people safe and avoiding spread of the virus. Those practices are given to you in this letter. Reading it before coming to Mass will be very helpful so you know what to expect and what is expected of each of us. Masses begin Wednesday, June 3. Weekday Masses will be as follows: Tuesdays—6 pm; Wednesdays-Thursdays-Fridays—all at 8 am (Note Thursday Mass time change.) Continue reading.
About Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd Church, rectory and office complex is located five miles east of Highway 13, along Highway 102 as you enter into the village of Rib Lake. Come, and join us for Mass! If you are interested in joining the parish, call or stop in!
Our Mission . . .
The mission of Good Shepherd is to welcome all to spiritual growth through prayer, worship and ongoing formation. Together, formed in the image of Christ, the Good Shepherd, we will tend to the needs of the entire community.
Our parish is blessed to have a retired priest in residence, Father Dennis Meulemans. Father Den served at Holy Rosary in Medford, and then retired to the Rib Lake area. Father Den assists with Reconciliations at Christmas and Easter, with special events and even preaches every third week at the parish. We are so very blessed to have him with us!
A message from Father Den:
The Body of Christ and Seth Thomas
Just after I became pastor for the first time in 1973, I splurged on a grandfather clock—over the years it has provided me reliability, and comfort, like “old slippers”—not just a time piece, but almost a “family member” quality. It keeps really good time and requires hardly any maintenance. (I did use WD 40 once on it.)
Grandfather (and grandmother) clocks have been around since about 1700; most of them use Westminster Chime sound (old Big Ben in London). I’ve seen a lot more ornate clocks than mine; but I’d certainly miss the beautiful sound of my “friend” if it were no longer usable.
But, you say, what does all this have to do with Sunday’s readings? Well, today’s second reading is about the Body of Christ, one of Paul’s most famous texts, immediately before next week’s reading from Chapter 13 of Corinthians—on love—Paul’s best known writing.
Paul says the Body “has many parts.” If I take the time to check out the workings of my grandfather clock—the pendulum, the weights, the chimes, the incredible array of little gears, I can’t help appreciating how everything works together to keep me informed of the time, with the bonus of the beautiful chimes.
I feel that Paul is saying much the same thing: as Body of Christ we’re all important; we belong. We needn’t be envious of one another, or scornful of anyone, or boastful because of our importance. Like my Seth Thomas clock with all its individual parts keeping the clock running and making beautiful music, see yourself as important towards keeping the Church on track, making beautiful music for the enrichment of others.
Finally, recognize that we do belong comfortably to the Body of Christ, that there is a place for you, that we “fit in” with our gifts and talents that together help to make the Body of Christ “tick.”