As the Coronavirus swept through the world, our country stood still in fear and anxiety. The outbreak hit New York City with such force, declaring Queens as the epicenter. People were quarantined, businesses shut down. Yet, The Bridge to Life, a pregnancy crisis center located in Flushing Queens, stood firm in considering our operations as an essential service. And it continued helping families in need. The center persevered and implemented a continuance of operations plans without disruption. Bridge to Life would meet with families by appointment only. Families would receive baby clothes and supplies through curbside pick-up. The center has helped pregnant women and new moms in an effort to help women avoid abortion and keep their babies. It provides counseling and referrals for medical services like sonograms as well as clothes and baby supplies — all for free.
Francesca Yellico, Bridge to Life’s executive director, said “Three babies are alive today because we were opened during this time!” She pointed out that, from March 16, 2020, to the present day, Bridge to Life helped approximately 500 mothers and children as they faced many unprecedented difficulties during the pandemic.” With major stores closed during the pandemic, women could not get the basic needs for their babies. Francesca noticed the looks of appreciation and gratitude from the women (even though a facemask). “We are here for anyone who needs our help. This is truly a ministry to the people in need.” This ministry has helped alleviate some of the stress, fears, burdens, and financial difficulties brought on by this unexpected outbreak.
The Bridge to Life is a nonprofit that depends on donations. It is trying to help save the lives of the unborn
Youth ministry is known for its fun, interactive gatherings for our young people. Each youth ministry program provides a safe space for teens to explore their relationship with Christ, while also building friendships. Youth ministers find joy in planning, preparing, and hosting gatherings that include ice breakers, games, bible lessons, and questions/discussions to guide our youth in learning their faith. Then in March, our world was placed on pause.
The pandemic affected the lives of millions and changed the way we all interact. From work to family gatherings, everything halted. This also impacted our church greatly. While pastors and DRE’s tried to figure out their next step, youth ministers also faced a challenge: How are they supposed to support their teens while in the middle of a pandemic?
Youth ministers faced personal challenges and their own fears of COVID-19, yet many managed to put this to the side in order to support their teens and continue to keep this as their priority as we slowly find a way to reunite.
Organizations such as the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), Project YM, ODB Films, and many others provided webinars and resources for youth ministers to transition to online gatherings with their young people. Our local youth ministers took these resources and figured out how to tailor them to our Brooklyn and Queens teens. Many youth ministers turned to Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube to keep their connection alive. Initially, the youth ministers were encouraged to simply provide a safe space for teens to express their fears, anxiety, questions, and pray together. The goal was to connect teens together even if it was virtually. Slowly, more and more youth ministers began to plan their virtual gatherings around in-person models such as praying the rosary together, reflections on the week’s Gospel, group sharing, games, and even fitness time.
The youth ministers of Brooklyn and Queens displayed their faith and resilience during a time of pain and fear by placing teens first and ensuring they had the time and space to connect with their friends and most importantly with God.