His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek has issued a directive that effective immediately all parishes of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania are to immediately cease all services, activities, social gatherings, etc. with the exception of the following:
Each parish priest may open his church on the coming two Saturday afternoons (March 21 and March 28) for two to three hours of his choosing for the faithful to come and offer a private prayer and light candles. While we are not encouraging people to do this in light of the governmental guidelines, it is realized some people will gain much strength from this visit. It is imperative that people in high-risk categories (i.e., senior citizens/individuals with on-going health problems/people not feeling well currently) not consider this act. Individuals are reminded to maintain “social distancing” during this visit and avoid interacting with large numbers of people.
Holy Trinity’s “open houses” as described above are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and next.
His Eminence’s directives go on to say:
Except for so-called “death-bed confessions,” confessions are suspended until this period of time has concluded. (This, of course, does not preclude informal spiritual discussions between our priests and our parish penitents via the phone and emails…)
You can reach the parish’s clergy through the Parish Office—814-231-2855 (phone); firstname.lastname@example.org (text/email)—which remains open with as regular hours as possible should a need arise in our parish family or the broader community. While routine pastoral visits are to cease per His Eminence’s directives, our clergy, following proper personal safety protocols, are still available to you to respond to any emergency situation requiring immediate pastoral attention.
Attached is a service that can be prayed by the faithful of the Archdiocese regularly in front of their prayer corners concerning this virus. The Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, while closed to visitors during this period as per Holy Synod directives concerning all OCA monasteries, will probably continue to live-stream the monastery’s services; their web address for more info is: orthodoxmonasteryellwoodcity.org.
The work of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church continues even though we cannot gather as Christ’s people. With Fr. Ignatius’ blessing Matthew 25 met virtually earlier today with the deacons to postpone the Lion’s Pantry Drive and Soup-er Sunday to the Sundays of October, but will continue to offer immediate assistance to the State College Food Bank and other charities. We will have more on this in letters to the parish and in the April Trisagion, but in the meantime, please remember the parish through your stewardship if you are able.