St. Joseph’s Church pastor Monsignor Richard Martini estimates he’s walked over 90 miles through the neighborhoods of Carpinteria since March 21. Monsignor Martini said he’s bringing Christ to the people since the church closed temporarily because of the coronavirus.
“We asked ourselves the question, ‘How can we bring Jesus to the people when they can no longer come to church?’ This is our way of praying for all the people in Carpinteria, asking God to keep everyone safe, of asking the Lord to protect everyone, but most especially we are asking the Lord to help us become conscious that he is with us,” Monsignor Martini said.
“Catholics believe that Christ is present in what looks like bread. And so as we walk around with it (the Blessed Sacrament), we’re literally revealing that Christ is present, Christ is here with you even in this.”
So far, Monsignor Martini has walked through Sandpiper Mobile Home Park, Franciscan Village, Casa de las Flores, Linden Avenue, Carpinteria Avenue, Holly Avenue, Ash Avenue and many other local spots.
From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday evening, Monsignor Martini walked from La Mirada Drive and Shepard Mesa and Cate Mesa Road and Gobernador Canyon to Alvarado Street, Foothill Road, Seacoast Village, Jay Street, Kathy Street, Dariesa Street, and Myra Street.
“We’re doing our very best to walk past every single dwelling,” Monsignor Martini said.
During the walk, Monsignor Martini will carry an exhibition vessel, called a monstrance, filled with a thin wafer of bread called a Host. Catholics believe the bread is the physical presence of Jesus Christ.
Two members of The School of the Cross men’s group and a guitar player will walk with Monsignor Martini.
“We are wearing a humeral veil and so we are actually, because of the sacredness of (the Host), holding (the monstrance) with this veil, and we are ringing a bell as we go to alert people. Many people are coming out on the street, everybody keeps social distance, even though it’s walking, it’s not a huge procession,” Monsignor Martini said.
He added that the community has embraced the procession and people walk out of their houses to watch, take pictures, cheer them on and to pray.
The walk will conclude Wednesday evening at the ranches along Foothill Road.
Monsignor Martini stopped holding public mass at the church, located at 1532 Linden Ave, and closed the church office on March 24.
Since then, Monsignor Martini has been streaming daily Mass on the church’s website https://stjosephchurch.org.
“It’s lonely on one hand. We put pictures of all the parishioners onto the pews. So when I am celebrating Mass, I am looking at the pictures knowing that okay, these are the people who are probably watching. Even though we are distance removed, virtually we are together,” Monsignor Martini said.
He streams one Spanish and one English Mass on Sunday mornings and has plans to stream a teenage Mass as well.
Over 120 people watch the Mass stream during the week. Those who can’t tune in live can watch the recording on demand.
“‘Hi, thank you for Mass this morning. It calmed me,’” Monsignor Martini said as he scrolled through text messages from parishioners who tuned into the live streams. “‘Thank you, it’s just what I needed,’” read another text.
“I think people are afraid, they’re worried, they’re under stress and being able to know that Christ is with us. Christ lives our distress with us. He’s not magical. He’s not protecting us, in the sense of being a force field, but in fact he always enters into these situations and redeems them, that would be our religious language,” Monsignor Martini said.
“He wants to be with us as he was with Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died. He is full of anxiety. He’s sharing our fears. He’s sharing our tears. He is with us, and I think for some people, you know, it’s being reminded of that. It kind of wakes them, and it calms them down and gives them peace,” Monsignor Martini said.
St. Joseph Church is scheduled to open on April 19. Monsignor Martini said that date is subject to change.