The coronavirus that has brought much of the nation to a standstill has made mission life more difficult for Glenmarians and their parishioners in Mission Land, USA.
The public celebration of daily and Sunday Masses has been suspended in all dioceses where Glenmary missions operate. As bishops and priests try to navigate Centers for Disease Control guidelines on public gatherings, other services like funerals and weddings are being disrupted as well.
At Holy Family Catholic Church in Lafayette, Tennessee, 40 people attended a Mass that usually draws about 10. The kicker? It was to be the last public Mass offered in the parish until further notice. Fathers Charles Aketch and Chet Artysiewicz are working together to keep mission life moving in some way.
“We are still trying to minister where we can,” Father Chet said. “We are trying to prep the RCIA candidates for entry into the Church at some future time. Also, we are trying to work with couples preparing for matrimony. We’re struggling trying to find ways to be creative.”
In Windsor, N.C. near Holy Spirit mission, Brother Virgil Siefker said he’s still able to volunteer at a food pantry and at a local nursing home. The food pantry is operating more or less like a drive through with people remaining in their cars. To enter the nursing home, his temperature is checked at the door.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, the governor has ordered all non-essential employees to stay home, resulting in the closure of Glenmary’s administrative offices.
Glenmary missioners across Appalachia and rural parts of the South are adapting and devising creative ways to continue serving the people of God during the pandemic. Check back frequently at Glenmary.org for more opportunities to help.