Pandemic and the Eucharist

Glenmary News

Pandemic and the Eucharist

Fr. Richard’s Mission Journal: 

At the beginning of the pandemic here in the United States, we had no cases in our North Carolina missions, in the remote tidewater region of the eastern part of the state. I took simple measures at our regular Masses—no shaking hands, reception of Communion by one element, and so on.

Things went on well until further restrictions were handed down. Then, as parishes did across the land, we suspended weekend Masses. I promised the parishioners to include them in my daily Masses. I shared with the communities links to Masses online and some other spiritual resources for the weeks before Easter.

Since then, I have come to understand how much people long to receive the Eucharist. That first Sunday after I had Mass at the rectory chapel alone, I returned to my room to check messages. One family was requesting Communion. I prayed about it before responding to the text. When I took Communion, understanding that this community is small and everyone knows each other, I was reminded that four more families were waiting for me, I had to return to the rectory to get more Communion and drive to these families. 

Last Saturday [late March], in communication with pastoral coordinator Julian Crespo, at our mission in nearby Washington County, we gave parishioners a chance to come by for Communion as long as we observed social distancing. I exposed the Blessed Sacrament from 3-5 p.m.. More than 30 people stopped by for Communion!

I didn’t imagine how a short notice like that brought people to pray a little bit and receive the Body of Christ. I did the same here on Sunday. About 14 people showed up.

I have never had many days like these ones saying Mass alone and thinking of my parishioners. I have limited many meetings with the two Glenmary Brothers (Virgil Siefker and Curt Kedley) here and I encourage them to take care of themselves. They do a lot in the community, especially at the food bank and at the nursing homes. At the food bank they have set up a drive-through for those needing food.

I check on the elderly members of the parish and encourage them to stay home, to avoid places that can be infectious. Of course there are a few members who are elderly here at Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

I have learned during this moment that many lose patience and hope. Many become helpless and hopeless. With encouragement and sense of love and care, people accept the reality and live more responsibly, with precautions.

—Father Richard Toboso, Administrator
Holy Spirit Catholic Church