From the Pastor: Clean Air at Epiphany!
I was reading something recently from a priest who was describing his vacation a few years back. He wrote about how nice it was to be able to just sit in “somebody else’s” church and read his breviary without anyone breathlessly running up and exclaiming, “Father, we’ve run out of toilet paper in the restroom!” I think that every priest who reads that line can respond with a knowing smile. It happens all the time. Everywhere. Although bathroom tissue disappears faster than food in a house full of teenagers, and church toilets cease to function with the same regularity as cell phones ringing during Mass, not every parishioner who sees a problem expects Father to fix it, though. In fact, one of the sweetest melodies in a pastor’s ears might be words to the effect of, “Father, I see a need at the church and I am ready, willing, and able to tackle it. May I help?”
Such an angelic song was being sung not too long ago by one of our parishioners after the covid lockdown took place. Don Reagan approached and introduced himself (probably with a Handshake of Death™ which didn’t kill either of us since we were not yet so intellectualized as to know how dangerous such a thing is) and said that he works for a company (Stan Weaver and Company, 4607 N Cortez Ave., Tampa, FL 33614, 813-879-0383) that installs, among other things, air purification systems in air conditioning units throughout the area. With an increasing worry about a particular coronavirus floating around, he thought that a few ionization air purification units might be a good thing for the church to have installed in her A/C system. He pointed me to a webpage (https://globalplasmasolutions.com/) so that I could check out what he was talking about. After poking around a bit I found the description of “How Ionization Works...” to kill off viruses, odors, mold, particles, allergens, and bacteria. This is what it said: “GPS’ NPBI technology works to safely clean the air inside industrial, commercial and residential buildings. The patented technology uses an electronic charge to create a plasma field filled with a high concentration of + and - ions. As these ions travel with the air stream they attach to particles, pathogens and gas molecules. The ions help to agglomerate fine sub-micron particles, making them filterable. The ions kill pathogens by robbing them of life-sustaining hydrogen. The ions breakdown harmful VOCs with an Electron Volt Potential under twelve (eV<12) into harmless compounds like O2, CO2, N2, and H2O. The ions produced travel within the air stream into the occupied spaces, cleaning the air everywhere the ions travel, even in spaces unseen.” And certified to be ozone free, to boot!
Now, I don’t know much about air purification and I am just a bit gun-shy about buying cure-all snake oil from the back of an average peddler’s wagon, which is what this sounded like. This company claims that it tests for (and finds great reductions in, of course!) Norovirus, Tuberculosis, Human Coronavirus, MRSA, Legionella, Staphylococcus, Clostridium Difficile, and E. Coli. It really sounds either too good to be true or a fantastic system to have installed. But which is it? I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but I do know the value of two old sayings, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” and “Follow the money.” What I haven’t revealed until now is that Don did not come up and say, “Father, have I got a deal for you! Act now and I’ll throw in an extra magic doohickey for free! Just pay shipping and handling...” Rather, he said something like this, “This is my parish, and this system is something that I know works. I want my parish to have the cleanest and healthiest air in the Diocese. If you allow me, I will have this installed at no cost to the parish.” He didn’t attach any strings, he wasn’t looking for me to write about it in the bulletin as I am doing here, he wasn’t looking for an advertisement or for a payment or a reward of any sort. He will probably be a bit embarrassed that I am even including his name in this article, but I believe he deserves a pat on the back. A couple of weeks ago three of these GPS Auto-Cleaning Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization Air Purification Devices units were installed in the church A/C ducts. There was no fan-fare, no advertising banner hung up, and no photo op for a company guy. Just another one of many parishioners who saw a need, had the ability and desire to help out, and asked a simple question. “May I help you, Father?” You all really are a great congregation! Thanks for all that you all do without looking for any earthly reward.
Oh, I guess I better make this clear so that nobody freaks out. Even with the air purification system, we are still disinfecting all the pews, door handles, and other touchable surfaces before people come in for Mass; we still encourage anti-social distancing, wearing of masks for those who wish, frequent hand washing, and other mandated or recommended precautions. And remember, though I might jest about the Handshake of Death™ I have tried very hard to refrain from the natural impulse to reach out my hand in greeting. How strange it is that we have dozens of new families at Epiphany whom I have never shaken hands with or picked up their babies. What strange times in which we are living!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka