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Dear friends,
It has now been about two months since I last wrote to you about the “State of the Parish.” As we begin to take small steps towards reopening, I thought that this would be a good time to share with you what’s been happening at St. James Cathedral these past months and to take a look to the future.
Our livestream Masses have continued daily during the lockdown. Throughout the pandemic, these “virtual” Masses have been the highlight of my week, and hundreds of you have shared with me how much you appreciate them, too. It has also been wonderful to reconnect in this way with parishioners who have moved to different parts of the country or the world, and who tune in to the livestream Masses. For them it has been a kind of “homecoming!" We intend to keep the Sunday livestream Mass going indefinitely for the benefit of our many parishioners who are in the “vulnerable” categories. It’s pretty clear that the pandemic is far from over and that means that many of our senior parishioners and those with compromised immune systems will continue to experience lockdown long after restrictions have eased.
At the end of May, we got word from the Governor’s office that public Masses, celebrated outdoors, would be permitted for up to 100 people. We started doing outdoor Masses in the Archbishop Murphy courtyard on Pentecost, and upwards of 100 people have attended each Mass. Even though the weather has been less than optimal, those attending have been good sports and have been quite enthusiastic about the experience. Not only were they extremely grateful to be able to celebrate and receive the Eucharist, they were also happy to be able to be together in community. (If we have your email address, you should be receiving information about registering for these Masses. If you’re not receiving them, please call the parish office at 206-622-3559 to make sure we have your email address! If you don’t have email, just call the office to sign up for Mass.) As we move into Phase II and Phase III of the Governor’s plan for reopening, we expect to be able slowly to resume a more normal Mass schedule. Please keep an eye on your email or on the parish website for details.
On June 1 we marked two important milestones in our reopening: the parish office reopened for limited hours and the Cathedral Kitchen reopened and began offering a takeout evening meal for our homeless and low-income guests. As you might imagine, many adaptations had to be made to our normal procedures in order to operate the kitchen in a way that our volunteers and guests would be safe. But the happy thing is that the Cathedral Kitchen is again open! Let me take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all those who have pitched in so generously in order to make it possible for this essential Cathedral ministry to resume. And I would also include in my thanks all those who, beginning on May 3, started coming together to prepare and serve the Sunday early breakfast. I’m happy that nutritious “to go” meals are once again available to our homeless friends.
All our faith formation programs for children and adults have been meeting throughout these past weeks, via the miracle of Zoom. It has involved a lot of work on the part of our staff, but it’s working! And I’m happy to announce that our candidates for Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion who have continued their preparation all through the shutdown are now looking forward to celebrating these sacraments in the summer months of July, August and September. All the celebrations will be adapted to the present reality and will be celebrated in a way that is festive, beautiful, but also safe!
I trust sure you’re aware of many other online offerings we have been making available over the past several weeks – each of them an effort to keep you connected to the life of the parish. The beautiful musical prayer on Friday evenings has drawn hundreds of viewers, as have our weekly Poetry Series and our parishioners’ personal reflections in the “Body of Christ Speaks” series. And then I’ve very much enjoyed doing my video series on “My Life with Mary.” It has given me the opportunity to connect with you, to share a little of my personal story with you and, I would hope, to get you to reflect on your own “life with Mary!”
I also want to give you an update on how the parish is doing financially. While we do continue to experience a significant loss in the weekly collection, a huge number of you have kept up your Sunday giving throughout the lockdown, and some of you have made truly extraordinary gifts to help offset our losses. This is a great testimonial to your faith and I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you. I am both inspired and humbled by your faithfulness and generosity. Thanks to your gifts and to significant savings in expenses during the lockdown, we may even end the Fiscal Year with close to a balanced budget!
Meanwhile, some 411 of you have donated a remarkable $369,000 to the Annual Catholic Appeal. That means that, at this point, all gifts that come in will now go directly to the parish to help offset our financial losses during the time of the shutdown. Let me take this opportunity to say a huge ‘THANK YOU’ to all of you who have given so generously to the Appeal. At a difficult and challenging time, you have come through. I also realize that a good number of you have been unable to donate this year because you are unemployed or suffering financial setbacks. My heart goes out to you and I trust you know that you are very much in my prayers. And for those of you who are in a position to give but haven’t yet done so, I hope you will take this as a gentle reminder to fill out your pledge form and return it to us or else to go online and make your pledge.
In closing, let me acknowledge what challenging days these are for all of us. For that reason I have been praying for you even more than I usually do. And, of course, I look forward more than I can say to the day when we can all be together in the Cathedral. At this point, that date is in the mind of God, but I have faith, and I’m sure you do, too, that it will come!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Ryan





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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303