Dear Tulane Catholic Family,
This e-mail is longer than my usual communications to you, but every word is from the heart and full of love for you. I share it with you as the chaplain of our Tulane Catholic family. But if you read only one thing, let it be this: cling to your hope in Christ in this present darkness.
I imagine that many of you, like me, are still adjusting to this new and strange reality for us as a society, as families, and especially as a Church. Not having public Masses and all of our events being cancelled has taken a heavy toll on many of us, myself included. As the effects of the pandemic are hitting even Tulane Catholic, I personally have been saddened by how limited I am to be present to you at a time when a flock needs its shepherd the most. I feel privileged to offer Mass on your behalf, but the empty chapel is a difficult reminder of our distance. I feel this loss deeply, as I‘m sure you do too. You do not need to suffer alone, please reach out if I can help in any way.
HOPE IS OUR ANCHOR
I and the leadership team at Tulane Catholic maintain 3 anchors as key to our ministry: encounter, formation, and radical availability. Frustratingly, it seems this pandemic is directly attacking all three. Yet, this is the time to double down, because these things are needed the most now! So we are working hard to ensure we can still provide encounters with God and with each other; provide Catholic formation to help college students and our community persevere; and be radically available to you and to God, for what he asks right now.
Here's a few ways I want to be available for you:
LUNCH WITH PADRE
To allow for more encounters, beginning Tuesday, March 24, from 12pm-1pm, I will host a Zoom session every day, excluding Saturdays and Mondays, where anyone may join and have time to talk and connect with me or others. Consider it a virtual “Lunch with Padre”. You can connect to that here: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/248061094.
To provide for encounters with God, and especially our Eucharistic Lord, I will celebrate and livestream the 6pm Sunday Mass on our Tulane Catholic Facebook Page from the chapel at St. Anthony of Padua Priory where I live and am now confined.
CONFESSIONS, PRAYER, AND OTHER SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
Because I do not live at the center and most students and staff are not present, I have decided it would not be prudent to try to offer confessions on campus due to the "Stay at Home" regulations in New Orleans. But many parishes around the country, including the one I live at (St. Anthony of Padua), are offering creative ways to adore the Lord and go to confession. I encourage you to check with the parishes nearest you to see what is on offer. Please let me know if I can assist you in this.
Each day I am sending out at 8:15am (CDT) a short reflection and guidance for prayer based on the daily Mass Readings. If you would like to subscribe to that, click here.
We have two Facebook groups available, one for students and alumni (https://www.facebook.com/groups/tulanecommunity/) and the other for parents to connect with each other (https://www.facebook.com/groups/tulanecatholicparents/). Last Thursday, when the Pope asked for a worldwide Rosary, I posted in the Facebook Group a Tulane Catholic Zoom meeting so we could pray the rosary together. I was delighted to see 30+ Tulane Catholics. I will continue to post opportunities like that in the Facebook Group and my own personal Facebook profile.
Our work as a campus ministry continues, but is now almost entirely online. Though it looks very different, it is now more important than ever. We are doing our best to provide online opportunities for formation such as classes, Bible Studies, and meetings. We still have expenses, staff to be paid and bills to cover, and I know that you do as well. This is a difficult financial time for everyone and the worst may be yet to come. I encourage you, if you are able and after having taken care of essentials for your family, please continue giving to Tulane Catholic. Because public masses are cancelled, we won’t have the weekly support of the collection. You can mail us checks (please, no cash), but the best way to give is online: http://catholic.tulane.edu/donate or to our Venmo @tulanecatholic account. You can also contact Courtney Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org), our development director with questions.
HOPE, NOT FEAR
It is so important that we maintain hope. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). God is especially present to us now, even though we are distant from each other and church buildings. I urge you to resist rumors, resist selfish or fearful behaviors, avoid grumblings against those in authority (whether civil or church). None of these will be helpful or alleviate fears. Instead, we can live a spirit of fraternal cooperation, charity, and sacrifice for the common good. It’s during times like these that saints are in the making. And that, after all, is our mission… to help each other grow together into the saints we are called to be. As I’ve said recently, this present crisis is no obstacle to our sanctity––it is the path. In any situation, God is still calling us to holiness, hope, and faithfulness. No matter what is going on around me, I can still be faithful, and love God and my neighbor.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email (email@example.com), on Facebook (“@thomas schaefgen”) or Instagram (“@frthomasschaefgen”). I hope to see you tomorrow at 6pm online!
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Thomas C. Schaefgen, O.P.
Director of Campus Ministry