Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
On September 13th we held our third parish security committee meeting. Perhaps you remember that in light of church shootings this past year, and discussion happening at the diocesan level, we were encouraged at the parish level to seek guidance from our local security experts, i.e., police, sheriff, etc. So we formed a committee first to talk about what better security at our parish might look like. Then we invited Sheriff Jason Landers to speak to us at our second meeting.
In our most recent meeting we first went through the notes I had taken during our last meeting with Sheriff Landers. At that meeting we considered the possibility of ALICE training at each of our campuses. ALICE training involves simulating a real life intruder scenario and teaching participants how to respond. We have now set those training dates as follows: October 10th at 7:15 PM in Paulding, October 17th at 7 PM in Payne, October 24th at 7 PM in Antwerp. Everybody is invited to attend, but ushers and greeters are especially encouraged to be present.
Next we considered emergency situation procedures. These are a list of steps – guidance for ushers and greeters especially, helping them know how to call 911 in the case of an intruder during Mass; and where to find fire extinguishers and first-aid kits. We also decided that we will start locking our doors during Mass, beginning 10 minutes after the Mass starts. In order to do this, of course, we have to make sure that all the required exit doors have crash bars on them, so that they easily open from the inside, even when locked. Once we are sure that this fire code requirement has been met, we will make it clear when the new policy begins. There should be no problem whatsoever for people arriving even more than ten minutes late, because each parish has a special door with a keypad that opens the door with the code. Furthermore, ushers will keep an eye on the door, in case somebody has to leave to get a diaper bag out of the car and return, or some other similar scenario happens. No parishioner will be left out in the cold!
Next we discussed what the “concealed carry” policy will be at our parish. In the state of Ohio, people with a concealed carry license are allowed to carry in church only if permission is given by that particular church. Furthermore, that anybody is allowed to carry in our parish must be “posted or permitted”. We are not publicly going to post a general permission to carry, instead, we will permit individual parishioners to carry, after they first make themselves known by filling out a simple questionnaire and giving the parish office a copy of their concealed carry license. This can be done by contacting Dianne Jones at the parish office.
So there is the latest from our security committee meeting and recent decisions. Perhaps you remember that after the church shootings this past year, I was approached by several people who wondered what steps we would be taking. At the same time the same question was discussed by the Bishop with his Presbyteral Council of the Diocese. All of this was a catalyst for the starting of a security committee at our parish. We simply want to have in place reasonable, prudent procedures, in the event of a possible violent intruder during a parish function. Perhaps there are people who think that in Paulding County we ought not to have to think about such a gruesome possibility… But school shootings and recent church shootings have taught us differently. We don’t have to be in a big city in order to run into some pretty gruesome behavior.
On another note, for the last few weekends we’ve started posting an audio copy of my homilies – both on the parish website (homepage > our parish > homilies), and on the parish app (homilies). Since the app was created, parishioners could find the homilies of Bishop Robert Barron under the “homilies” icon of the app. Please know that it is still very easy to get access to Bishop Barron’s homilies. I have listened them for years now, by downloading the WordOnFire app. And it is all free. So don’t be discouraged that you will not have access to his homilies any longer. You can easily gain access by getting his app. The purpose of serving our parishioners, it seemed to make a lot more sense to post the local pastor’s homilies. For a few years now I’ve been parishioners every once in a while ask me if they could get a copy of valleys, or if the homilies were posted somewhere. I hope the posted homilies really serve parishioners who want to meditate on their message more deeply. I certainly put a lot of prayer and study into the homilies. I imagine that it is pretty hard to get everything possible out of them, when you are only hearing them once. I hope the recordings of the homilies nourish parishioners’ spiritual lives still more deeply.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Jesu et Mariae,