Monsignor Heinz | St. Joseph Parish, Richmond, IL
Submitted by: Donna Smith
At the outset of this pandemic, my local parish was in transition with our parish priests waiting and leaving for new assignments and a new priest scheduled to begin his new assignment in June and then delayed to August.
When the churches had to shut down because of the corona virus in March I started to attend Mass most days on EWTN. It was
great, but I missed receiving the Eucharist and being part of community by seeing and praying with other people.. Sometime in April or May, a friend told me that we could attend Mass in the church parking lot and receive the Eucharist at the side door entrances at St. Joseph's Parish in Richmond. Mass was broadcast via the car radio. They also offered Eucharistic Adoration through the school window facing the parking lot 24/7. This was especially important to me because along with my regular need for Adoration, I had committed to pray for our parish priest in front of the Blessed Sacrament once a week through the Seven Sisters Apostolate.
Monsignor Heinz also offered us the Sacrament of Reconciliation every Saturday by sitting in his car in the parking lot and as the government guidelines lessened he offered confession behind screens in the back of the church. All guidelines were closely followed. In the parking lot we just pulled our car right up along side of Monsignor's car, driver to driver with our masks on and we received the graces of mercy and forgiveness. I felt so blessed.
In the event we were unable to attend Mass and receive the sacraments in person Monsignor also offered us powerful homilies via the internet to keep us connected to our faith and community. He told us how much he missed the beautiful faces and smiles of his parishioners. Every day Monsignor quietly, humbly and lovingly offers us faith. hope, love and community. He even had a Socially Distanced Ice Cream Social. Wheel barrows of ice cream were socially distancely handed out right after Mass. It made my heart chuckle and dance a little in gratitude to see the people laughing and smiling at each other. The Monsignor works very hard to honor the government guidelines to keep us safe from the virus and keep us spiritually connected to our faith and each other. We are very blessed.
I am a quiet, simple shy person who seldom speaks out, but I feel so blessed that God led me to the Monsignor's Parish and then today when I heard on the radio about your Hero nominations, I had to let you know about Monsignor Heinz and how important he is to the people of God.
Monsignor Heinz helps keep us spiritually and emotionally fed through his faith in our Lord,and his love for his parishioners by making participation in celebrating Mass, receiving the sacraments, keeping community alive and easy to access, all within the government guidelines to keep us safe. His church is open to all to provide each of us with the ability to pray together as community.
This has been a difficult, uncertain time in all of our lives and the Monsignor's love of God and his loving concern for his parishioner's spiritual and mental health he has acted with courage to persevere in all circumstances to open his church for community outreach to all while working within the government guidelines to keep each of us safe, connected to God and connected to each other.