May 20, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
In light of the pandemic, Bishop Libasci issued an edict which allows the “Distribution of Holy Communion” at our weekend Masses. We will begin this weekend, May 23rd and 24th. And we will observe our normal 4 pm and 9 am times. We ask that you do not come before 3:45 pm or 8:45 am. The cones will be removed at that time. Once you have parked, a volunteer will greet you at the side door. We hope that there will be common sense and spacing used so that it will be smooth until 4:30 pm and 9:30 am.
Thus I wanted to get this note out to you as soon as possible. To quote the Bishop, “this will be different. It will not be perfect. But it will provide an opportunity to draw one step closer for gathering together with the faithful and a significant catechetical opportunity to share what is good, what is holy, and what is central to our faith. The public gathering for Mass remains suspended at this time but our celebration has not ceased and continues with fervor.”
Following the protocol that has been set by the Bishop, and adapting to our local community, we will have the following expectations:
The obligation to attend Mass has been suspended by our Bishop. There should be no pressure for you to feel as though you have to come to church to receive Holy Communion during this pandemic. I realize that many of our people are older, vulnerable and compromised, as well as fearful of public settings during this stay at home order. Continue to watch Mass on TV with your Spiritual Communion. Communion to the homebound has not resumed in the pandemic.
My hope is that you will be grateful for what the Bishop has provided in his edict. This is an interim step toward the public celebration of Mass. I will be in touch with you in a few weeks.
May 10, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
I thank you for responding to my call and I appreciate your ongoing financial and spiritual support. This may last much longer so thank you for supporting your parish. We wait patiently for guidance.
I would hope that through the change of routine by the stay-at-home order, that we have all experienced a new appreciation for wonder. Despite all the personal sadness we have all shared in with family and loved ones through Covid and loss of jobs, we are still called to appreciate the blessings of our lives. Only you know your blessings best. I pray you begin to jot down a list of the many people and events of your life that you are grateful for and you return that thanksgiving to God in complete trust that He is guiding us.
I have said from the beginning of this pandemic, that this is a time of grace. Please don’t focus on what you do not have and desire but put all your strength into believing the best is yet to come.
Fasting from the sacraments in our parish community is a grace as we honor the common good by waiting for a safer place and time to be together again. That time is not now. By now you have all found your favorite priest and mode of watching the Mass. I encourage you to continue doing so! I encourage you to watch the Holy Father’s daily Mass at 12:30 on Catholic TV.
Our bishop wrote a meaningful OP Ed piece in the Sunday Union Leader last week on May 3. He invites us to also yearn for which will be restored in a more beautiful way. I believe that the absence of the Mass in a parish make the soul fonder of that which we might have taken for granted or routine. We receive our Spiritual Communion with Jesus when we desire to receive him when we cannot.
I’ve chosen a few pieces for your reflection and hope they help you to live in this moment and pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us. I enclosed a blessed prayer card of Our Lady of Perpetual Help with a prayer at the back. She will look familiar to you because Our Lady greets us as we enter the side at Sacred Heart with the entrance to our little chapel.
I saw two mallards on the grounds the other day along with robins and cardinals nesting. The bulbs have been blooming since Easter and are gorgeous as you can see. We may be in the inner city, but beauty is everywhere if we take the time to pay attention!
Until the next letter in a few weeks … be at peace. I remember you daily in prayer and at Mass. A belated but sincere blessing to all the women of the parish for Mother’s Day.
God bless you all.
Father Steve Marcoux
April 27, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
I pray you are as well as we can be with our stay at home order. We have already experienced 6 weeks apart and without speculating, it seems that it will be quite some time before we gather. As you receive this fourth letter, our governor and bishop will be informing us as to how to proceed in this pandemic.
I am most grateful for your financial support and want to share a few thoughts in this regard. We have a deficit of at least $1k each week in cash which is a big loss. It is your prerogative to give as you choose but we surely miss those loose dollars to the tune of a loss of $6k thus far! I would hope that those of you who give cash, would write a check for these past six weeks if possible. I did say six weeks ago that it would be fine to keep your parish offering until we return but we never thought it would be so long and with no definite return date yet. I would appreciate that you mail your offertory gift so we do not have to dip into our savings. I would say that approximately 60 families are helping us at this time but I believe we can do much better. We continue to encourage online giving. About 5 more families have signed on for a total of 20 families. It assures us of a solid base for our bills.
I realize you are being bombarded by all sorts of charities to help and are cautious about your own bills. I understand. We need $14K monthly for our budgeted offertory. This past April, we received $10K. We have this deficit because we have lost those who contribute cash. We also miss the generosity of the Bagg Lunch suppers for March and April, which would have brought a minimum of $3K. I would hope and pray that each family/person would help us to make up the difference in some way.
Even though we have a shortfall of $4K for the month of April, as pure offertory, a few parishioners have been very generous with extra donations which helps the common good reach our common goal. Thus, we are in good order. However, I would hope and pray that each family person would continue to remember our beloved Sacred Heart family in prayer and financial sacrifice.
I continue my days of work and projects from my office and home as well as my daily rhythm of prayers in union with each of you, celebrating daily mass as well as enjoying Mass with our Holy Father Francis daily at 12:30 on CatholicTV.
Please keep a sense of humor in these challenging times! Be patient and kind in confinement and turn it around to be an opportunity for grace. The Lord has slowed us all down and we need to seize the moment and grow and not be angry or frustrated about our lack of control. Serenity! What lessons we can learn about ourselves!
Our website continues to change every week with new photos and messages of hope. Please take a look: www.sacredheartchurch-nh.com. I will be in touch in a few weeks and hopefully we have a better sense of the future!
In the union of prayers and sacrifices,
Father Steve Marcoux
THE BELLS ARES STILL RINGING DAILY AT SACRED HEART
Dear Parish Family,
Happy Easter! Even though we were not able to celebrate Holy week together physically, we did so spiritually. We were bonded together by the communion of saints and our souls celebrating the Pascal Mystery as the Sacred Heart Parish community, both living and deceased. You were called by name and prayed for as a member of our parish.
It was a unique, contemplative experience for me to be ministered to by the Lord in a quiet atmosphere. It was a profound experience that I will not have again. Although we are called to celebrate Holy week as a community, it gave us all a different perspective to celebrate in our own homes and ways.
There are some great TV Masses at this time to sustain us in a spiritual communion. I realize many of us do not have full cable access but if you do, Our Holy Father Francis offers daily Mass at noon on CatholicTV. It is Comcast channel 268 in Manchester. Daily Mass is at 9:30 am. Bishop Reed, who is the director of CatholicTV, is a friend of mine and I told him we are encouraging our people to take a look at the great programs offered. There is something for everyone. Often times, different cable companies do not carry it. EWTN (channel 56 in Manchester) has also done outstanding ministry for years and is generally accessible. Together they give us great hope! We need to get a good daily dose of Catholic programs to sustain our faith and not get overdosed on the news, as important as it is to be aware.
Facebook and our parish website are there for you as well. You can stream Mass from many parishes online and enjoy the churches of our diocese and our priests. I encourage you to watch the noon Mass with Our Holy Father, Francis, in Rome. It doesn’t get any better!
I am trying to call our people as I can, and hold down the fort here with Julie. Leave a message for online giving and Julie will return your call. It’s easy and I encourage it as it gives the parish a steady base of income. I believe we will not be gathering again for some time. Everything changes as you know. We are in God’s hands!
I will try to meet your needs as best as I can but the stay-at-home order must be respected as I will be obeying it for the protection of the common good. This is a serious time and I believe that many people do not understand or choose not to. This is irresponsible and only hurts everyone in the process. We are doing our part at Sacred Heart to respect life and the wisdom of our authorities, both civil and religious.
I am most grateful for your faithfulness in prayer and support. Thus far, we are meeting our weekly budget and paying the bills! That is incredible in our present challenges. God is good!
The hoodlums have got the message that our parish is a sacred place and we will not tolerate vandalism, group gatherings, or illicit activities. The sheriff is in residence!
I realize many of you do not do social media so I have enclosed a copy of what our website looks like, and hope you find it useful. I will write to you in two weeks. Be well! Pray! Stay home!
In the union of love and prayers,
Fr. Steve Marcoux, Your Pastor
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
As I mentioned in my last letter, I would be in touch every two weeks so here I am! I wanted this to reach you before Palm Sunday.
I am well and managing the parish behind the scenes with our great administrator Julie Cusson. Julie is working from home and I am too. I am using caution with the support of my primary care physician to avoid public settings and individual encounters as my lungs have been compromised for many years with bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis. I need to be around for the parish for many years to come and I am 64 and in the risk category for the elderly. The last sentence is a wakeup call for me as often we are expected as priests to be invincible and always available and I own my own limitations. I have all I need and ask you to stay home and take care of yourselves and your families as we take care of the parish as best we can.
Monique Fonner and Suzanne Roy diligently continue to update our social media with Facebook and our website. I am enjoying being an amateur photographer with photos I can send to them to post.
We have placed cones at the church entrance and exit except for the delivery of daily mail and the Wednesday garbage run. I have had to protect the parish property, as well as myself, as the police will not engage (by the National emergency protocol) in addressing calls for assistance of cars left overnight on the property, dealing with public gatherings, bad behavior on the grounds, and homeless people sleeping around the garages and my home. All these events have happened recently. I have secured the assistance of several of our men that live in the vicinity and can assist me in such times. This is precisely why the church and office/home is closed. We need to be wise!
I check the mail daily and your offertory gifts will be recorded and deposited weekly. In such challenging times, I can only ask that you don’t forget Sacred Heart as we have come too far together to slip back. Do what you can whether you choose to send your gift weekly, bi weekly, monthly, or wait until we return, hopefully in May or beyond. It’s a great time to leave a message for Julie on the office phone about starting online giving. It’s easy and it helps. Please do not send cash and do not put any envelopes in the parish mailbox or the gold mailbox near my home entrance. It could possibly be stolen, and it is illegal!
In the interest of public health and observance of the Governors “Stay at home” order, I ask you to continue to watch mass on tv, which has many venues such as EWTN and Catholic TV, as well as the 30 parishes that are streaming. I am not doing so at the parish as I believe it is a good time to watch the universal church venues especially from our own Cathedral with our bishop and our Holy Father in Rome. Most of our people do not do social media so it would reach very few. It is also a good time to value our parish and appreciate what we have and what we miss! The old adage is true: “absence makes the heart grow fonder!”
This is a time of great grace! Let us remain positive, focused and grateful in this time and yearn to receive the Eucharist and confession and be at Mass again with our family. Our desire to receive Holy Communion is our Spiritual Communion with Jesus at this time and He comes into our souls. I will be praying the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday) privately at our usual times and you are called by name each time. Our palms will be blessed and given out when we return.
BE SAFE! STAY HOME! Support our friends at Bagg lunch Diner and our locals if you are able to do takeout and delivery to your home safely! I have enclosed a prayer sheet for you with good thoughts!
I will write to you again after Easter! Happy Easter! Let your hearts and souls be filled with Easter joy in these stressful times. Let’s live our faith out and shine in the darkness!
In the union of prayers,
Father Steve Marcoux
March 18, 2020
Dear Parish Family,
I thought you would appreciate a note from your pastor during this challenging time. This is a national emergency and public health pandemic. We are urged to honor the President’s request to stay home as much as possible, and not gather in groups, large or small, to contain the spread of the virus.
Bishop Peter has asked us to do the same. We ask you to understand the public health concerns involved and the wisdom in the cancellation of all Masses (daily and weekend) and all parish activities until further notice. You have been exempted from your weekly obligation.
I will celebrate Mass each day privately for the intentions that were requested and for the people of Sacred Heart Parish, both living and deceased. You will be remembered each day and this Mass is celebrated for all in a prudent way until further notice by our bishop.
We live in a dangerous neighborhood and must be cautious. The church will not be open during this time as I cannot guarantee who will be coming in to pray and their exposure to the virus infecting others and violating social distancing. This includes our Adoration chapel which has access to the church and hall. We will re-evaluate this situation in a few weeks.
Since there will be no Mass celebrated publicly, I believe we need to be consistent about gathering in this time of national emergency and pray we can return to normalcy sooner than later. It is truly time to make your home your domestic church. This is time to truly Yearn for the Eucharist! This particular time should give us a greater appreciation for the Holy Mass and Adoration, which we often take for granted.
I have enclosed this blessed prayer card of the Sacred Heart for you to find a place of honor in your home, and as a reminder that you are being prayed for by me each day, and each family called by name from our parish census. Please pray together, watch the Mass on TV if you choose (which is broadcast from venues) and please don’t forget your parish offertory gift! We are keeping activities to a minimum, and office hours may be reduced. Please send in your envelopes or wait until we gather again. Life continues despite the emergency and we must meet our financial obligations. I realize that many of you do not care for online giving, but I encourage it as we need to pay our bills! It might be time for you to consider it and Julie will help you with that (please call the parish office).
Hoping to see you soon! Be at peace! God is with us! He is forever Emmanuel! Let us use this time of sacrifice as our spiritual communion with Jesus. In our desire to receive Him, Jesus comes into our soul, as we honor the national emergency together. Prudence is the cardinal virtue so let us be wise and prudent!
Father Steve Marcoux, Your pastor