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School Update

August 12, 2020

The following message was delivered at our Masses on the weekend of August 8 and 9 by Principal Sally Mummey and Vice Principal Ed Watson.

 

St. Francis de Sales is more than a school. It is more than a parish. It is a home and the people within are our family. Faith is the foundation of our identity. We are a Catholic School, founded upon the principles of the Gospel, devoted to the evangelization of the world, powered by the Eucharist, and dedicated to the raising of a new generation of saints. We move in faith and hope, grounded by reason and motivated by love. We pray for those who are struggling with fear and illness. Through prayer and action, we strive to protect our school, our students, and our families.

With those ideas in mind, I am pleased to announce that St. Francis de Sales School will open its doors five days a week for in person instruction. Please know that this decision has been made through consultation with the Diocese of Columbus, state and local officials, and in cooperation with the Licking County Health Department. While we are all deeply concerned about the health and safety of our students and staff, we are also concerned about the effects of continued separation of our community.

I am truly proud of our teachers. They not only are working so hard to prepare for the school year but they also see reopening in fall as essential for our families and our students. They have given up many days of their summer to plan and to organize their rooms to allow for all safety procedures in their classrooms. The entire school staff will collaborate for 5 days before school actually starts to solidify our plan and to make it the best opportunity for our students.

Re-opening in the Fall is not a decision that we take lightly. We have created a Task Force Team that has discerned and discussed safety measures for our students, families and staff. This Team has met weekly. We have created a fluid document that we publish weekly that defines these measures as we learn more and receive guidance.

We understand that not every family will be ready or able to return in the fall and so we will also offer digital learning to those families and students who are in need.
Despite these changing times, our mission and dedication remain the same – providing an outstanding education and to forming disciples of Christ.

I want to share some wonderful highlights for the new school year: Our new theme for the year is Perfect Love Drives Out Fear. In a world that seems to be in the grips of fear, we as Catholic Christians are reminded to share a radical love of others and cast out division. This message is so needed to be heard today in our wounded world.

We are using a new platform called Digital Academy. This platform will allow us to improve communication with families, assist teachers in lesson planning, serve as a digital learning platform for students, and provide improved record keeping for the school and our families.

We have adopted a new Science program for grades K-8. This resource will foster STEM and hands-on learning in our Science classes.

We are now a Jon Peterson provider where children with Individual Educational Plans can receive the resources and help needed to be successful and can remain here at St. Francis de Sales. With this program we are able to hire an Intervention Specialist who will help children with learning disabilities. We continue to work with SPICE to make all of this happen.

Our preschool program is top notch. We have wonderful teachers who foster early learning and help little ones understand how school works, self-control and foundational skills in reading, writing, and math. We have a few openings left so please inquire within.

We are committed to be a positive light for our students. Although none of us have walked this path before, we know that times such as these forged great saints, and these times will as well so long as we cling to our Lord.

St. Francis de Sales school will look and feel a little different this year, but our Catholic community is stronger than ever–we are always stronger together, united in Christ Jesus. We ask for your prayers and support in the coming weeks and months, and please know that our children in school will be praying for you as well


School’s Fall 2020 Reopening Plan

July 29, 2020

Dear St. Francis Families,

 

We are dedicated to opening our beloved school five days a week. Following the release of Ohio’s school reopening guidance and the release of the Diocese of Columbus School Reopening Task Force report, we have finalized the school reopening plan (see below) for St. Francis de Sales School. Our goal is to return to normal operations fully permitted by research-based health and safety guidelines. 

 

We’re looking forward to our students returning to the building! Our opening plan was developed and personalized by our own Task Force Team. This is a living document and as the Covid-19 situation changes and we receive further guidance, our plans will also continue to change. We will keep all families updated through Flocknotes.

One thing that has not changed is our dedication to providing an outstanding education in a faith-filled environment. Our Mission is to Be Disciples and Disciples Makers. Together we can continue our Mission with precautions and flexibility.

We want to thank you for your support as we work together to reopen and as we set guidelines for all. Please review our plan carefully and take note of the dates and times for the start of the school. We know that this is a trying time.

If at any time you would like to explore a modified teaching style for your child, please contact us at 740-345-4049 and we can discuss.

Please call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Many Blessings,
Sally Mummey, Principal and Ed Watson, Vice Principal

 

Reopening Plan_v14


Important Update: Please Read Before Coming to Mass

July 17, 2020
Dear Parishioners,
 
We have received notification from the diocese that Governor DeWine has mandated that everyone attending religious services in Ohio’s hardest-hit COVID counties must wear a face mask. Licking County has been placed on this list as of 7/16/2020 so this mandate now includes us. The exception to this is the priest when he is on the altar, the lectors while reading and the cantors/musicians while singing. The silver lining is that Masses will continue. The only change is that, from today, congregants at all liturgies must wear a face mask unless exempt for medical or age reasons. 
 
This marks a time for extreme charityLet us do what is asked of us with a spirit of that charity and, as corporeal works of mercy, always with a concern for others. Regardless of these unsettling times, as Christian Catholics we are called to treat one another with dignity and compassion. Let us begin this task with each other within our own parish community.  
 
Please pray for peace in the midst of all that we are facing.
 
STEPS WE HAVE TAKEN SINCE THE RETURN TO MASS ON 5/30
It is important that you know that we care about each and every one of you. It is our intent to proactively provide spiritual and pastoral care while remaining obedient to the Diocese, State of Ohio and CDC guidelines. These are the efforts we have made and that we will continue to make to help keep you as safe as possible:
  • Hand sanitizer and masks are available at all entrances.
  • Every other pew is be open for seating to maintain social distancing. 
  • Johnson Hall is open with additional seating. 
  • Extra volunteers will be on hand to help with doors and seating and for sanitizing the church and Johnson Hall after each Mass.
  • Our Holy water fonts are empty and hymnals have been removed (all Mass parts are projected overhead).
  • The Sign of Peace has been modified to omit physical contact with non-family members.
  • Just as before COVID19, our Eucharistic Ministers sanitize their hands before and after distribution. 
  • All liturgical volunteers wear masks (with the exception of Fr. Dave, lectors and cantors while in the sanctuary).
  • Eucharistic Ministers distribute Holy Communion in the hand only during this time. Distribution of the Precious Blood is temporarily suspended.
  • We come to you for Holy Communion, to avoid Communion lines.  
  • No-touch offertory baskets are in use.
  • Sanitize the entire church following every Mass.  
  • Live-stream Mass is available at our 10:45am Sunday Masses and we can bring Eucharist to you in your home (call Deb at 740.334.3147 to make arrangements). 
  • Daily Masses are also an alternative to larger gatherings of people. Remember, we are all dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass through 9/13/20.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
We all have a personal responsibility to care for ourselves and each other, and to determine what that looks like for each of us. Per Diocese, State and CDC guidelines, these are the recommendations for attending Mass:  
  • Check your temperature before you depart for Mass.
  • Please wear a mask as required while in public in Licking County.
  • Maintain 6’ social distance from non-household members.
  • Help us to sanitize the church and other touchpoints following Mass.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick or have a fever, if you have a sick family member or have been exposed to someone who may be sick, if you are a primary caregiver of a vulnerable person, or you are at risk because of preexisting conditions or age.
Also please be patient and kind. Let us not contribute to fear or divisiveness, rumors or misinformation. 
 
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; 
and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
Matthew 11:28-30

Important Message about Masses from Fr. Dave

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

 

Dear St. Francis de Sales Parishioners,

 

This past year, the Diocese of Columbus began a self-study and evaluation of the precious resources available to us: our people and clergy, our parishes and schools, our evangelization efforts and finances. Starting with the number of priests versus the number of parishes and offices/ministries that are currently operating in our diocese, it was determined that to maintain the current operations, we would need at least 120 priests. Currently we have 89 active priests for our 108 parishes. The forecast for the number of priestly ordinations is projected to decline over the next ten years while the number of priests eligible for retirement continues to rise. Within a few years, we will have less than 70 active priests for those 108 parishes. 

 

We have also been studying the trends of Mass attendance and participation in other sacraments that have been celebrated in our parishes over the past few decades. These trends too are consistent across the diocese: Mass attendance has dropped by an average of nearly 17% over the past 10 years. In fact, in the past 25 years, St. Francis experienced the loss of weekend Mass attendance by approximately 50%, according to our annual October Mass Counts. Only in the past few years, due to your increased evangelization and faith formation efforts, has our parish began to grow again. Then COVID-19 happened, and we all know how that has lowered attendance.

 

Given these statistics, Bishop Brennan began a long-range strategic planning process to create a comprehensive Diocesan Pastoral Plan. This plan will take shape over the next year or so, then it will be implemented in stages. While I do not know all that the plan will fully entail, I trust it will be for the greater good of our people, priests, and our mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I ask that you keep Bishop Brennan and this planning process in your daily prayers.

 

In the meantime, parishes have been asked to reduce the number of weekend Masses, especially in parishes where the number of people attending Mass is less than 50% of the seating capacity. This is the case here at St. Francis where our capacity is around 650 per mass, or 2600 per weekend. Before COVID-19, we had a total of about 1,000 people attending weekend Masses. After COVID-19, we have even fewer people attending. After consulting with Parish Council, Finance Council, Liturgy Committee, Staff, and the Senior Leadership Team, we will reduce the number of weekend Masses from four to three.

 

In addition, Bishop Brennan asked parishes that are geographically close to one another, to consider modifying their weekend Mass schedules to better serve the greater Catholic community. Therefore, we have collaborated with Blessed Sacrament, St. Leonard, and St. Edward to adjust our weekend Mass schedule beginning September 1 to the following:

 

Saturdays at 4:45pm

Featuring a variety of musical styles, led by piano and an ensemble of instruments and voices. Confessions will move to 3:45 – 4:15pm. Confessions will also be offered at 5:30 to 6:15pm on Wednesdays. 

 

Sundays at 8:30am

Featuring the parish choir with organ music and a more traditional-style liturgy.

 

Sundays at 11am

Also the livestreamed Mass, featuring a blend of familiar favorites and worship/praise, led by an ensemble of instruments and voices.

 

We know that these changes are less than ideal and may be particularly hard for some of us. As you contemplate this change, remember the recent several weeks when we were away from our beloved Church and were unable to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. My hope is that we all remain grateful that our parish has a full-time active priest, that we have each other and are able to worship together as a community, and that we have so many opportunities here at St. Francis de Sales to grow in faith.  Friends, the way forward, the way through all that we are experiencing, is becoming even more intentional as a parish, as families, as individuals, to grow in our personal and communal faith, and to share our faith with others. This is why a parish exists.  This is our mission. I am proud to be with you here and lead you in this most important mission.     

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Fr. David Sizemore

Pastor 


We Can Meet the Needs of Every Child

July 13, 2020

St. Francis de Sales School is thrilled to announce our new designation as a Jon Peterson Provider through the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program. The JP Scholarship enables parents the opportunity to keep their children in Catholic education by providing additional funding for service providers who can work with classroom teachers to collaborate in learning and providing intervention. Funding awards are based on each child’s needs, typically outlined in the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan. This is a very exciting advancement for our Licking County Catholic Schools. We want to allow students the opportunity to learn in their faith as they learn for their future, encountering Christ in themselves and others along the way. Our capability to support students with diverse learning needs through the JP Scholarship will compliment SPICE (Special People in Catholic Education) and enhances the services that we can provide to our students. For more information, please contact Sally Mummey at 740-345-4049. We would love to talk with you about your child!

 

Learn even more!


St. Francis de Sales Preschool

38 Granville St, Newark, OH 43055

Phone:   740-345-4040

Email:   info@stfrancisparish.net

© 2020   St. Francis de Sales
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