Father Patrick Melfi is following the lead of Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, in asking Catholic parishes to ring their church bells five times a day to call all to unite in prayer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prayer times will begin at 9 a.m. and continue every three hours each day, with the last bells ringing at 9 p.m. Each of the five prayer times will be dedicated to a specific group particularly affected by the pandemic.
“When I read the story,” Father Pat says, “I thought it to be a beautiful way to unite everyone in this time of uncertainty. We always find comfort when we reach out to others who are in need.”
Bells will ring at the Basilica of St. Marys of the Angels and St. John Roman Catholic Church in Olean as well as St. Philomena Church in Franklinville.
“Since we have been asked to self-isolate, this seemed like the answer — the ringing of the bells to remind us that we can offer prayer for everyone impacted by the virus,” says Father Pat, regional pastor and the rector of the Basilica.
He has invited the Greater Olean Olean Area Churches to also consider this way of uniting the community in prayer.
Cardinal Cupich suggests, for parishes that don’t have bells, members can set their alarms to remind them to stop for a moment and unite in prayer.
We include the prayers here:
• 9 a.m., prayer for those infected with the virus and all who are sick: Lord, place your healing hand on those who suffer illness. Bring them to full health and ease their anxious hearts. May our prayer and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary encourage them that they are not alone. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
• Noon, prayer for health care workers and those attending to the sick: Lord, we are ennobled by those who put their lives at risk in caring for the sick. Keep them safe and embolden them when they are weary. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
• 3 p.m., prayer for first responders and essential workers: Lord, we pray for those who run to danger to keep us safe and those who serve the common good. Embrace them with your mantle of protection and comfort the fears of their families. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
• 6 p.m., prayer for people of every nation and their leaders: Lord, the pandemic opens our eyes to see each other as brothers and sisters in one human family. We pray for people of every nation and their leaders, asking that they be inspired to seek the good of all and quell the voices of division. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
• 9 p.m., prayer for those who have died today: Lord, we grieve the passing of our sisters and brothers who have died this day. We commend them to your tender mercy, confident that nothing, not even death, will separate us from your love. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.