“Flatten the curve,” three words that became the norm for each of us to hear during these unprecedented times. For us in the Secretariat of Evangelization & Catechesis, it meant “hit the ground running.” Maintaining a real presence in the midst of a pandemic was an opportunity and a challenge, and posed innumerable questions: What does this mean for our ministry? Where do we go from here? How do we continue to evangelize? How does one run a Zoom meeting after being only a participant? We found ourselves meeting as a staff every week as well as meeting with our catechetical leaders on a weekly basis to offer resources and assistance where needed. We often heard the phrase; “we are all in this together” and these words echoed throughout our universal Church. We were not simply in an isolated situation rather we shared in solidarity with all of humanity as we navigate through this turbulent storm of Covid-19. Yet, in all the uncertainty one thing was certain that is faith. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We could no longer meet “in person” yet this did not prevent us from meeting virtually and going forth like the Israelites crossing the Dead Sea into the unknown.
Microsoft Teams, Go-to-Meeting, and Zoom became platforms that we used to connect with others, to offer faith formation, guidance for catechesis, and moments of prayer. We have learned that many in our parishes began to do the same: virtual rosaries, Lectio Divina, RCIA and so much more. This pandemic has taught us that we can and must continue to reach out to one another. The year 2020 will not be forgotten in history and we are a part of that history. A year in which all Catholics had to give up the “source and summit of the Christian life” namely, the Eucharist, and the sacraments during lent and for longer than that. Watching the daily Mass offered by Pope Francis, Eucharistic Adoration and other forms of prayer became the new normal for many. But it also became an opportunity to worship together as a family, not rushing out of the “church” at the end of Mass, taking the time to sit with the Word of God and like Our Blessed Mother, to ponder the words in our hearts. For some who participate in the Holy Spirit Institute Volunteer Track in Spanish, the opportunity to complete their last course and seminar was life-giving. It not only gave them an opportunity to gather virtually but also enabled them to go deeper in their relationship with God and with one another. As more than one student remarked, “I look forward to the meeting so that I can be in community with others.” Another shared how the formation he had received and the pandemic gave him “new eyes” to see the needs of others and as an essential worker to not turn a “blind eye”, rather help strangers he never would have thought of helping before.
Throughout these several months, I have been a witness to the gratitude and generosity of others. Those catechetical leaders who were grateful for a call, an email, or just knowing that someone was present in case they had a need. In being that witness, I want to reiterate to you even in this time of enforced solitude the interconnectedness of our parish, our ministries, and indeed, our Catholic community through prayer. “In these difficult times, may He allow us to discover the communion that binds us and the unity which is always greater than any division” (Pope Francis, Homily 4/14/2020).