705 Main Street, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

COVID-19 Updates

3/30/20  Message from Fr. Colter to the People of St. Patrick

The Long Lent of 2020 drags on. Palm Sunday approaches, April 5.

A word first about that day. As you all know, we regularly begin the Palm Sunday procession by blessing the palms and reading, from the back of the church, the gospel of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before he is to suffer and die. Then, during the Mass, we read a gospel account of the Passion of the Lord.

This year, the reading from the back of church is Matthew 21:1-11. The passion account is that of Matthew, beginning in the 26th chapter with verse 14.

The palms were already on order and will have arrived before you read this. Here’s what we will do this year. I will bless the palms privately with the prescribed blessing and sprinkling. Then we will place them on a table in the entryway to the offices so you can stop by and pick them up.

That entryway is off the lower parking lot, facing Main St. Come into the parking lot off of 7th St. Go in the first door, where it says “Office/Commons” and “705.”  We will leave the outer door unlocked. The blessed palms will be available from noon on Saturday, April 4, through 6 PM that day, then again on Sunday, April 5, from 7 AM to 1 PM.

The Archbishop informs us that we are dispensed from the Friday abstinence rule except for Good Friday, which remains a day of fast and abstinence. I would note, however, that if you have need because of health reasons or low food supplies, by all means make such a decision yourself. As Jesus says in Mark 2:27, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Besides, it’s not as if we haven’t all done a great deal of penance already!

Let’s do our best to keep up our prayers and our hope in God’s mercy. The day will come when we will experience together that “moment after suffering” we are all familiar with on a personal level. Remember the essence of the “paschal mystery” we celebrate this coming week: Good Friday is never the end of the story; Easter Sunday is. New life comes from dying in one way or another. It is the story of Jesus and the story of our own lives, stretching into eternity.

We are developing a way for me to share with you via YouTube my thoughts on each Sunday’s scriptures, as well as updates about parish life. Watch the parish website and Facebook page for the details. We hope to have it going by Palm Sunday weekend.

For a little dose of scriptural courage, I suggest Psalm 126, especially the first two verses: When the Lord restored the captives of Zion, we thought we were dreaming. Then our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

May the Lord make it so!


3/23/20  Message from Fr. Colter to the People of St. Patrick

Many of us are accustomed to confession during Lent, especially as Holy Week approaches. Needless to say, since we are forbidden to gather more than ten people and strongly urged practice social distancing, all regularly scheduled confessions and communal penances are cancelled. However, we have recently received a communication from the Archbishop on this matter. Here are the pertinent parts of the message. It also pertains to the anointing of the sick in danger of death.

Plenary Indulgence

Yesterday the Church published a plenary indulgence for people who are sick with the coronavirus, and anyone caring for people who are sick with the coronavirus, and people who are quarantined because of the coronavirus.

The conditions for receiving the plenary indulgence are: a spirit of detachment from any sin (like saying “I hate sin”); the intention to go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Pope’s intentions as soon as possible; participate (even via the media) in the celebration of Holy Mass, or the Rosary, or the Way of the Cross, or if that isn’t possible, to recite the Creed, the Our Father and the Hail Mary.

During this time of pandemic, a plenary indulgence is also available to the Catholic faithful who – in addition to having a spirit of detachment from any sin, have the intention to go to Confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the Pope’s intentions as soon as possible – make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or read Scripture for at least 30 minutes, or pray the Rosary, or make the Way of the Cross, or recite the Divine Mercy chaplet for the following intentions: an end to the pandemic, relief to those afflicted, and eternal salvation for those who have died.

Finally, a plenary indulgence is granted to people at the moment of death, when they are unable to receive Anointing and Viaticum. The only conditions are that the person be properly disposed, have recited a few prayers during his/her lifetime, and at the moment of death to hold or look at a cross or crucifix, if possible.

People might also be reminded that if they are not able to go to Confession, they can receive absolution from even their mortal sins if they express to the best of their ability sorrow for sin motivated by love of God (called perfect contrition), and have the intention to confess any mortal sin to a priest as soon as that might be possible (see Catholic Catechism, paragraph 1452).


3/21/20  Message from Fr. Colter to the People of St. Patrick 

​May the Lord deliver us. Let’s all pray daily and pray hard for that deliverance. Let’s also pray with faith and hope in the mercy of the Lord. This pestilence will pass. We pray in hope and confidence, asking that it pass soon. Let us pray also for those who are now suffering from the disease, those who have died, and those who mourn their deaths.

​In our prayers, we must also ask for strength and wisdom for our leaders. No matter our political leanings, we can earnestly pray that they make good decisions for us and work hard to implement those decisions as soon as possible.

​We also need to pray for wisdom and courage for ourselves. We must heed the guidelines given by health officials across the nation. Certainly, we can go a little “stir-crazy” spending days on lock-down. Nevertheless, we have to do it, especially those of us who are the most vulnerable. As for me, I am thankful for a wonderful staff who are keeping me supplied with life’s necessities. (By the way, my recent illness was just another bout with something I have put up with for years. I’m fine now.)

​I remind all of you to pay special attention, in your prayers and via phone calls or other electronic means of communication, to those confined to care facilities. These have all but closed their doors to any visitors.

​Meanwhile, there is this great absence in my life and in yours: the complete closing down of all parish activities, especially the Mass. The Eucharist is the very essence of our Catholic life. And this means coming together. It is what we do. Therefore, it is a stunning sadness for me to sit here presiding over two square blocks of downtown property, empty of people, a property designed for crowds.

​I go over to the church to pray. Yes, the Lord is there in the Eucharist. He is also in your homes and in your hearts. But when I am there, I miss you. If I ever needed any proof of the truthfulness of this theological notion, I certainly have that proof now: the church building does not sanctify the people; the people sanctify the building.

​There are several possibilities for viewing the Mass on television or live-streamed. These are given on the parish website (homepage) and parish Facebook page. There are many other online resources for Catholic devotion. Search for them. I would mention in addition the website of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB). Also, those who might like to pray the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours, in whole or in part, can download a free app called iBreviary.

​I doubt that we will be able to celebrate Holy Week or Easter together. Suzy Luecke is contacting all who were to be baptized and/or confirmed to see what other arrangements they might prefer. The same goes for scheduled infant baptisms and weddings, at least through May. Parents and engaged couples must decide whether they want a ceremony with the possibility of less than ten people present or would prefer to reschedule for later in the year. As for funerals, Mary Citta and I, along with the mourners and the funeral home personnel, will decide what to do on a case-by-case basis.

​I will offer further reflections for you as the days and weeks pass by. God knows I will have the time!

We will come together again. Just imagine what a joy it will be the first weekend we reopen! Meanwhile, keep in mind the words of 1 Peter 1:18: “… we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”


3/16/20  Message from Fr. Colter to the People of St. Patrick (evening update)

We have received a message from Archbishop Jackels, and, based on his recommendations, we have made the following decisions regarding the coronavirus:

After consultation and considerable prayer, it has been decided – out of an abundance of caution and with devotion to the common good – to take steps aimed at slowing down the spread of the coronavirus, to flatten the curve, as they say, so as not to overburden the healthcare system.

Therefore, until further notice, the following positions have been taken:

  • All public celebrations of Mass are cancelled. All Catholics in the Archdiocese of Dubuque are dispensed from obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
  • During this time, the Archbishop will live stream a celebration of the Mass each Sunday, as well as the Chrism Mass, and Holy Week services, if the situation has not changed by then, and will lead the Rosary each week on Thursday. Visit DBQArch.org for more information about these live streamed events.
  • Communal penance services will not be held.
  • No hospital or nursing home visits for distribution of communion will be scheduled.
  • The parish office will be closed until further notice. All scheduled events or gatherings (except for funerals, baptisms and weddings) will be cancelled or postponed. Updates will be posted on our website saintpatrickcf.org.

Pray to God for speedy deliverance from the evil of the coronavirus, for those who are sick or who live in fear of infection, for those who care for the sick and elderly, for those whose lives and livelihood are adversely affected by the spread of the virus, and that we might all remain calm and confident in God’s wisdom, power and goodness.

Conscious of our great need, and confident of God’s loving care, with the above intentions in mind, all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Dubuque are invited to join in a day of fast, abstinence, and prayer on Wednesday, March 25, 2020; this is voluntary, not obligatory.

Download a printable version of this announcement


3/16/20  Message from Fr. Colter to the People of St. Patrick (morning message)

The situation related to COVID-19 is changing rapidly. In the interest of keeping everyone safe, our PARISH OFFICE, CHURCH, AND SCHOOL BUILDINGS ARE CLOSED.

Meetings, activities, and events are cancelled until April 13. Staff members are contacting group organizers who have items on the calendar.

Daily Masses are cancelled. The status of weekend Mass is awaiting additional information from the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

St. Patrick School and Cedar Falls Public Schools are closed until April 13.