Dear TASTE Friends —
Welcome to the 14th season of TASTE with our theme, Surrender and Be Refreshed — “For I will refresh the weary soul and replenish all who are weak.” (Jeremiah 31:25). We are truly excited to begin our new year with you. We eagerly anticipate the Lord doing a great work in each of our lives and we pray for refreshment of our spirits.
Understanding that conditions would not be back to normal in the Fall, we have been working on contingency planning for many weeks now. These plans included: 1) meeting location, 2) public health safety guidelines, 3) speaker presentation format, 4) support for fellowship and small group sharing, 5) offering Spiritual Adoption of priests, Scriptural Rosary, and Divine Mercy Chaplet and 6) TASTE for Tots childcare.
While there have been challenges along the way, we are happy to report that as usual God has provided a path forward. Your inputs on the recent survey were invaluable during our brainstorming. Given that TASTE will begin in just a few short weeks (Thursday, September 17!!), let’s walk through each topic — first with a summary and then with further details.
- We will be meeting at St. Mary’s Keesler Parish Center beginning at 10:15 for opening prayers and immediately followed by the speaker.
- We will likely use 2-3 speaker formats — in-person, pre-recorded and/or live-streaming virtual talks — our schedule (soon to be published) will specify the planned format for the week.
- We will begin the year with virtual small groups via Zoom.
- We will have monthly Prayer for Priests followed by either Scriptural Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Sadly, our TASTE for Tots program will be suspended during COVID.
WHERE TO MEET — For the past 13 years, we have been meeting on Thursday mornings at the chapel at Pallotti High School and it has worked really well for us. Unfortunately, that location is not an option for us now due to the space needed to social distance in response to COVID. In July, Fr. Larry Young arrived as the new Pastor of St. Mary of the Mills Church and graciously collaborated with us to meet the needs of TASTE.
In evaluating alternative spaces, we considered a number of options and while none were perfect, one was by far the best. To the end, we have reserved the St. Mary’s Keesler Parish Center (800 Main Street, Laurel, MD) on Thursday mornings. St. Mary’s daily 9:00 a.m. Mass is held in the Keesler Center. There may be some seats available for the women of TASTE, but we cannot guarantee a seat. Please see attached parish-specific guidelines if you plan to attend.
The good news is that the space is sufficient in size & handicap accessible, has a good sound system & internet access. The only potential downside is that there may be some background noise from the St. Mary’s food pantry. This service to the poor is the primary ministry in the Keesler Center on Thursday mornings. Volunteers will be using carts to move food from the back kitchen to the outside of the building for distribution. In spite of this, we are optimistic that we can share the space and have a good TASTE lecture from the front of the room.
SAFETY GUIDELINES — Please note that we will be following St. Mary of the Mills safety guidelines.
- If you are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone awaiting test results or who has tested positive, please do not attend. If you are in a health risk group, you can listen to the speaker from the comfort of your home. As usual, we will be uploading the talks to the TASTE website.
- If you come to TASTE, please don’t forget to bring your mask and wear it for the duration of the program.
- Consistent with what is being done in Mass, there will be no singing.
- While Marian always encouraged hugs, we will need to practice virtual hugs and social distancing. When this is over, we will joyfully return to warm, Marian-like hugs!
- If you go to the 9:00 am Mass at the Keesler Parish Center, please know that there will be a gap between the end of Mass (about 9:45) and the start of TASTE (10:15).
- The church is open for private prayer and you are welcome to walk over to the church to pray during this period.
SPEAKER FORMAT— In coordinating with our speakers, some will be presenting "in person" at 10:30 am while others will provide "virtual talks" for us. For those providing virtual talks, they may be pre-recorded (as Susan Brinkmann did in April) or they may be virtual live-streaming (allowing us to ask questions if time permits).
In all cases, audio files of the talks will be uploaded to the TASTE website. When speakers provide their talk in a video format, a YouTube link will be provided. As of this writing, we hope to have the option to meet in person to view the virtual talks together.
Soon, we will be publishing our schedule to both the website & by email; there will be an annotation indicating if the talk will be in person, pre-recorded, or live-streamed. That said, the situation can be fluid due to the dynamics of COVID, so we will need to be flexible. Please review our emails or website for the most current information.
FELLOWSHIP & SMALL GROUP SHARING — For safety reasons we are unable to offer “in person” small group sharing at this time. We will host “virtual” small group sharing using Zoom. We will reconsider this decision in the future as the situation changes. The Zoom small groups will allow for real-time video meetings. Additionally, a telephone call-in-only number will be provided for those who prefer audio only (or may not be as computer savvy). We are doing our best to make small group accessible to all who desire to participate. Rather than our previous model of having just one time where all of the small groups meet, we expect to offer a few Zoom sessions and you will be able to select from various times. Specific details and Zoom practice opportunities will be sent before TASTE begins on September 17th.
INCORPORATING PRAYERS — Once a month, we plan to have virtual prayers. We will first pray our Prayer for Priests followed by either the Scriptural Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
TASTE FOR TOTS — Unfortunately, we will not be able to support TASTE for TOTS during COVID. That said, we hope that by providing virtual talks and virtual fellowship our moms of young children will be able participate.
We must be prepared to make last minute changes due to COVID —check our weekly emails and website for updates!
We have some members of TASTE who are not able to access our website (or even emails). If you know of a TASTE sister who does not have electronic access, can you please consider reaching out to her and offering to be her access to TASTE announcements?
Again, TASTE will begin its 14th year on Thursday, September 17th. We are excited to have Fr. Larry Swink as our opening speaker. The title of his talk (and our theme for the year) is “Surrender and Be Refreshed.” We will begin promptly at 10:30 am after 10:15 opening prayer and announcements. At 11:30, following his talk, Father will be staying to hear confessions in the back of the gym. Additionally, we have quite a lineup of good holy priests and wonderful lay people.
If you have not registered yet or if you would like to invite a friend to register, please register HERE
We hope you had a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing everyone soon!
May God Bless Each of You Always,
In Christ’s Love,
Carolyn, Joy, Karen, and Michele
Jesus, I Trust in You