By now, we had hoped that COVID-19 would be behind us and that we would, at long last, be able to gather as a large group for diocesan convention. However, the number of COVID cases in Erie, where we had planned to hold our conventions, continues to rise, and across our region, health care facilities report that their capacity and staff are strained. After talking with local health officials in Erie, I have determined with great regret that we must hold our diocesan conventions entirely online again this year. We will gather on Zoom from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on October 14 to conduct the business of both dioceses and hear a report from the presidents of our standing committees. I will also give my annual bishop’s address during this session.
I am disappointed that the pandemic continues to make it difficult to gather safely in larger groups, and I share the desire that many of you have expressed to be together in person. I resumed visitations to congregations this summer, and I look forward to seeing many of you on Sunday mornings in the weeks to come. In addition, you will find below some early plans for smaller in-person regional gatherings that will begin later this fall and continue through the winter, and for in-person Mission Days in each diocese next spring. I continue to pray that the pandemic will abate by then, and I urge any of you who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 to get your free shots as soon as possible.
Below delegates will find details about how to register to participate in convention via Zoom. If you are not a voting member, you will be able to watch via a livestream on YouTube. I also hope that you will join me via Zoom at our annual pre-convention gatherings on Zoom at 3 p.m. today, October 6, or tomorrow, October 7, at 7 p.m.
Even as we experience frustration and disappointment at not being able to gather in person for convention, I ask you to join me in praying for the millions of people who have died from COVID-19, including more than 700,000 in the United States. Pray, too, for health care workers who are exhausted, for children who cannot yet be vaccinated, and for all who suffer the physical, emotional and economic consequences of this pandemic. May God grant them relief from their suffering and hope in the medical research that continues to fight this deadly virus.