Mass on May 25th – instructions

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Dear Friends in Christ, below is a letter from Bishop Brennan as well as diocesan guidelines to be followed when we resume public Masses on May 25. Please read both documents carefully. Each parish has to work out how to apply these guidelines to its own particular situation. During this week I have met with the parish pastoral council to develop and refine more detailed guidelines that will regulate public worship in our parish. We also discussed that we cannot schedule people in high risk groups, including those over 70 years of age, for certain volunteer activities. At our parish, we need to recruit some new ushers and train them before public Masses resume; we also need a few more volunteers to help with counting the collection after Sunday Mass. The ushers will have some additional duties, including dismissing people by rows to maintain six feet spacing during the Communion procession and helping everyone maintain social distancing inside the church. If you are able and willing to help as an usher and/or collection counter, please contact the parish office. As the Bishop says, our experience of Mass will be different, as we must take certain precautions to protect public health. I will be sharing more about this in the days ahead. 

I would also like to remind everyone that there are still strict rules in place about visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Currently, the priests are not allowed to visit hospital patients and nursing home residents unless someone is approaching the end of their life. If you know of a Catholic who is in this condition and needs to see a priest, please have one of their family members contact one of the priests sooner rather than later, as it can take time to get permission to visit. We do not know how long these rules will be in place. Please pray for people in hospitals and nursing homes who are isolated from their families at this time. 

Possible Return to Mass on Pentecost!

I’d like to share some good news:The Bishops of Ohio have announced plans to resume the public celebration of Masses on Pentecost.

Please see the attachment below.

Please note: Many details still need to be discussed and worked out. There will still be precautions, restrictions, and different ways of doing things. We will be receiving and giving more guidance about that. In the meantime, let’s start preparing ourselves mentally and spiritually for a great celebration. God be praised!


Dear Friends in Christ, 

As previously announced, we plan to resume hearing confessions, by appointment only, on Friday, May 1. Here is the schedule for confessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

To schedule your confession at Sacred Hearts, please call Tammy Dieter at 567-231-8067Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday between 9:30 am and 1pm.

To schedule your confession at St. Mary, please call Dolores Zentkovich at 382-0324 Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday between 9:30 am and 1pm.

Appointments will be made by telephone only.

Remember that you will have a maximum of five minutes to enter the confession area, make your confession, and receive penance and absolution. Please read the attached document for further instructions.

Friday, May 1
Sacred Hearts
7pm – 9pm                  Buffer 7-8; Tennant 8-9

Saturday, May 2
St. Mary
11am-1pm                   Tennant 11-noon, Buffer noon-1

 Sacred Hearts
4pm-7pm                     Buffer 4-5:30, Tennant 5:30 – 7

Sunday, May 3
St. Mary
2pm-5pm                     Tennant 2-3:30. Buffer 3:30-5

We will announce more days and times later in the week after we see how many persons have made appointments so far.
Let’s stay united in prayer!Sincerely Yours, in Christ, 
Father Thomas BufferPastor

Confession is coming.

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Today’s email has two parts: first, the schedule for the livestreamed Masses for the next several days. Second, an explanation of how we will soon be starting to hear Confessions once again.

Livestreamed Masses. Masses celebrated at Sacred Hearts will be livestreamed on the Sacred Hearts Facebook page. Masses celebrated at St. Mary will be livestreamed on the St. Mary Facebook page.  

Saturday, April 25. 9am. Sacred Hearts

Sunday, April 26. 9am. Sacred Hearts

Sunday, April 26. 11am. St. Mary

Monday, April 27 through Friday, May 1. 6pm. Sacred Hearts.

Resuming Confessions.

We are planning to resume celebrating the Sacrament of Penance no earlier than May 1.

This past Wednesday, Fr. Tennant and I participated in a conference call with Bishop Brennan and nearly eighty other priests to receive instructions on how we are going to proceed with Confessions during this time. Because we still need to take steps to prevent the spread of a very contagious disease, our procedures will be different; they are designed to protect everyone’s health and to avoid contaminating church facilities.

Here are some of the things that will be different as we begin to hear confessions once more:

Day and Time. We will schedule opportunities for confessions on several days to give everyone an opportunity to receive the sacrament. Confessions will be by appointment only and will be scheduled every five minutes. We expect to begin making appointments early next week. We will let everyone know in a day or two how to make an appointment. Please do not contact us about this yet.

Content. Confessions will have to be kept brief. You will have a maximum of five minutes to enter the area, make your confession, receive an assigned penance and absolution, and leave. If you are looking for counseling, guidance, or direction, that will have to happen at a different time, outside of confession.

Posture. The penitent will remain standing, six feet away from the priest.

Precautions. The priest will wear a mask and gloves. Everyone going to confession should also wear a mask. Take your temperature before coming to confession. If it is higher than 100.4 degrees, stay home.

Location. We need to use an open space that allows for plenty of air circulation and can be disinfected easily. Penitents need to be able to enter and leave the area without touching any doors, door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, furniture, etc. In Marion, we will use the school gymnasium; entrance will be through the exterior door opening on to the South parking lot. That door will be fastened open. At Sacred Hearts, we will use Foeller Hall (the social hall); entrance will be through the double doors facing East; those doors will be propped open.

While this is not what we are used to, I know that we are all looking forward to the opportunity to experience the power of Christ’s Resurrection in the Sacrament of Penance. 

Let’s stay united in prayer!Sincerely Yours, in Christ, 
Father Thomas BufferPastor

New and Old Technology

Dear Friends in Christ, 
As government officials begin to speak of a brighter future, many people have asked me when we will be able to reopen our churches, and under what conditions. I would like to know that too! I promise that as soon as I have something reliable to report, I will pass it on to you without delay. In the meantime, we plan to continue livestreaming the celebration of Holy Mass via Facebook. Here follows the schedule for the next seven days.

Friday, April 17     6pm     Sacred Hearts

Saturday, April 18     9am     St Mary Marion

Sunday, April 19     9am     Sacred Hearts

Sunday, April 19     11am     St Mary Marion

Monday, April 20 – Friday, April 24     6pm     St Mary Marion

Speaking of livestreams: I apologize for the technical problem that ruined the livestream of the Mass on Monday, April 13. Because Fr. Tennant’s IPad was not available, I decided to use my ancient laptop (more than 5 years old!) and the strain was too much for the old girl. After that bad experience I tried my new cell phone, which finds tasks like this to be very easy. It can do all sorts of things; I am still discovering all its features. They say it can also be used to make phone calls but I have not yet confirmed whether this is true. 

I am attaching to this email a document from the Diocese of Columbus that reminds us of church teaching concerning the forgiveness of sins and indulgences. It explains what we can do in an emergency situation when it is not possible to confess our sins to a priest. I think that if you read it carefully, it will answer many common questions and provide spiritual comfort.  

Let’s stay united in prayer!Sincerely Yours, in Christ, 

Father Thomas BufferPastor

Good Friday and Easter

Dear Friends in Christ, 
How are all of you doing during this Holy Week like no other? Normally, on the Tuesday of Holy Week, I would be preparing to travel to St. Joseph Cathedral in Columbus to concelebrate the Chrism Mass with our bishop, along with all the priests serving in this Diocese. Together we would renew our priestly promises, pray with the bishop as he blessed the sacred oils, then bring the blessed oils back to our parishes. This year, of course, everything is different. Bishop Brennan will celebrate the Chrism Mass at 9am this Thursday, in a mostly empty cathedral, where he will bless oils to be used in every parish of the diocese. At some later date, in a manner not yet announced, the oils will be distributed to the various churches. When the present health emergency has finally ceased, the priests of the diocese will again gather with their bishop to renew their priestly promises. 

I am glad we were able to work out a reasonable and safe way to distribute blessed palms this past Sunday afternoon, thanks to our volunteers who were willing to stand in the rain. This community showed amazing generosity at the same time. Over nine hundred dollars was collected to help the poor who are assisted by the food pantry of Edison Enterprise Baptist Church. Others donated non-perishable food items.  We are also grateful to everyone who dropped off contributions or sent money to support the continuing work of our parish and school. 

As you know, we have been continuing to celebrate Mass and those liturgies have been livestreamed on Facebook. Today, tomorrow, and Thursday, Mass will be celebrated at 6pm. On Good Friday, the liturgy will take place at 3pm. Those services will be found on the St. Mary, Marion, Facebook page
On Easter Sunday, we will livestream Mass at 9am from Sacred Hearts Church. 

Yours in Christ, 
Father Thomas Buffer

Diocese Mission & Holy Week Schedule

Dear Friends in Christ,

            In an effort to continue to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and in light of the extension of the “Stay at Home” order by Governor DeWine, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio have decided to extend the suspension of all public Masses until and including Sunday, May 3. I know that this is disappointing to all of us, but we also recognize why this unprecedented decision was taken, and we know it was taken for serious reasons and to protect everyone.

We will continue to live-stream Mass using Facebook during this time. Remember that you do not need a Facebook account or any special software or app to watch the live-streamed Mass on Facebook. Here follows the schedule of livestreamed Masses between today and Easter Sunday (I do not anticipate sending out another “coronavirus update” until Monday). Following that schedule, you will find a list of other live-streamed and televised celebrations from other locations.

  • Saturday, April 4
    • 9am Mass “in Time of Pandemic” from Sacred Hearts, Cardington
  • Sunday, April 5. Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
    • 9am Mass from Sacred Hearts, Cardington
    • 11am Mass from St. Mary, Marion
  • Monday, April 6
    • 6pm Mass from St. Mary, Marion
  • Tuesday, April 7
    • 6pm Mass from St. Mary, Marion
  • Wednesday, April 8
    • 6pm Mass from St. Mary, Marion
  • Thursday, April 9. Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
    • 6pm Mass from St. Mary, Marion
  • Friday, April 10. Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
    • 3:00pm Liturgy from St. Mary, Marion.
  • Saturday, April 11. Holy Saturday

Due to the complexity of the Easter Vigil liturgy, we will not be live-streaming an Easter Vigil Mass. We will live-stream the celebration of the Office of Readings at 10:00am from St. Mary, Marion.

  • Sunday, April 12. Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord.
  • 9am Mass from Sacred Hearts, Cardington
  • 11am Mass from St. Mary, Marion

Holy Week Masses and Liturgies at Other Locations

Diocesan wide mission Monday-Wednesday of Holy Week.

Father Michael Kelly from the Pontifical College Josephinum

  • Monday, April 6 – Our Response to This Particular Holy Week
  • Tuesday, April 7 – The Evil that Challenged the Last Supper
  • Wednesday, April 8 – The Blessed Virgin Mary Guiding Us Through Holy Week

Radio broadcasts each day at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on St. Gabriel Radio, 820 AM

Live-stream at, Diocesan Facebook page, and Diocesan YouTube Channel

Thursday, April 9 – 9am: Chrism Mass with Bishop Brennan from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Columbus

Good Friday, 12:00 noon – Liturgy from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Columbus

Holy Saturday, 8:00pm – Easter Vigil Mass from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Columbus

All the liturgies from St. Joseph Cathedral can be found at those same media outlets.

Easter Sunday Mass will be offered by Bishop Brennan at St. Joseph’s Cathedral at 10:30am and can be seen on NBC4 television.

Sincerely Yours in Christ, Fr. Thomas Buffer, Pastor

Palms to be distributed Sunday

Dear Sacred Hearts parishioners,
It’s looking like we will have to maintain our regime of social distancing and other forms of isolation for a while. While no one is happy about this, we can all understand the reasons for it, and we can get creative about finding ways to stay united. The best way for us to remain united is one that does not require any special technological equipment: it is prayer! Some people have found that they now have more time on their hands; why not use that time to say a daily Rosary, or pray the Stations of the Cross, or meditate on the Word of God? Pray especially for the lonely and those who are anxious or grieving or separated from their loved ones. We are also using today’s technology to allow everyone to at least watch the celebration of the Mass live, and we will continue that practice as long as the current restrictions on gathering at church will last. Also, the members of our parish pastoral council and other volunteers will be telephoning every registered household in the parish to see how everyone is doing during this difficult and strange time. We want to know that everyone is doing all right, and if anyone has any urgent spiritual, financial, or physical needs. This is an opportunity for the parish family to become more united than ever before. 

I’d like to thank everyone who has sent their financial contributions to the parish either electronically or through the mail. Even while the churches are closed, expenses continue including utility payments, insurance, debt reduction payments, interest on our construction loan, and staff salaries and benefits. I can promise that I have turned the thermostats down in the church, but there is no way to reduce our expenses to zero, even for a little while, and that makes everyone’s support very much appreciated.

The parish pastoral council also worked out a plan for everyone to be able to pick up blessed palms on Palm Sunday. You will be able to pick up a blessed palm for every member of your family this Sunday between 11am and 1pm. Here is how it will work: Volunteers will be standing in the rear parking lot next to a table with the blessed palms They will be wearing masks and gloves. Drive up to the table where the palms are; stay in your car and open the driver’s window. One of the volunteers will give you your palms. Then drive forward one car length where another volunteer will accept monetary donations to support the food pantry operated by Edison Enterprise Baptist Church (a separate basket will be available if you want to drop off your normal offertory payment to Sacred Hearts church). The poor, the homeless, and the unemployed are more severely affected by the present health emergency than the rest of us. This is a great opportunity to practice Lenten charity as Holy Week begins.

Sincerely Yours in Christ, Fr. Thomas Buffer, Pastor

Too long a Journey

Dear Friends in Christ, 
The first reading of today’s Mass tells what happened when the Israelites lost their patience after the journey to the promised land started to seem way too long to them. They got bit! Let’s learn from their mistakes and keep walking with Jesus on the road to the cross and, eventually, new life.

Tomorrow evening I will be holding a teleconference with the members of the Parish Pastoral Council. We will be talking about how to make sure everyone in the parish is well during the emergency, and what we can do to help the needy at this time. We will also work out a plan to allow parishioners to pick up blessed palms on Palm Sunday.

Sincerely, Yours in Christ, Fr. Thomas Buffer, Pastor

Update 3/30: The Raising of Lazarus

Dear Friends in Christ, We are going into our third week of abnormality. What Warren G. Harding called a “return to normalcy,” one hundred years ago, seems to be a far-off reality still. What we call “normalcy” is more fragile than we thought. In the calendar of the Church, we are not in a normal time, but have entered into Passiontide. Yesterday we heard how the great sign of the raising of Lazarus set in motion the events that would lead to the raising of the Cross. In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ first sign was worked at a wedding and his seventh sign was worked at a funeral. Weddings and funerals have now been postponed or are celebrated in reduced and abbreviated form. Nevertheless, the risen Lord Jesus is still present at weddings and funerals and celebrations of the Eucharist without a congregation. He offers his peace in the chaos of overcrowded hospital wards. 

The present requirement of “social distancing” has made it impossible for us to celebrate funerals in a normal way. For those who do not know, I am sorry to report that one of our faithful parishioners passed away last week and will be buried tomorrow. Jane Ann Dean died suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday, March 23. Due to the circumstances, there will not be a public funeral Mass and gathering at the church, but we do plan to celebrate a memorial Mass in the future when this becomes possible.   

This week, Fr. Tennant and I will be livestreaming Mass Monday-Friday at 6pm from Sacred Hearts Church on the parish Facebook page. You do not need to have a Facebook membership to watch, nor do you need any app or special software. If you have a web browser and an internet connection, you will be able to see and hear the Mass in real time. Just go to this link:   

Sincerely Yours in Christ, Fr. Thomas Buffer, Pastor