We invite Dehonians, co-workers and other collaborators in SCJ ministry to share their personal reflections regarding the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in their lives and their communities. The following is from Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ, a member of the South Dakota community who also serves on the Provincial Council.
Surely, this is one of the hardest times for me as a priest, passing through weekends without being able to see my people in the parishes, celebrating the Mass alone. Of course, it is common in South Dakota to sometimes cancel Mass due to snowstorms and bad road conditions, but this time is different.
In South Dakota – so far – we have not had “lock-down”. But we are still asked to wisely maintain “social distances” and stay home for our own safety and the safety of others. This obviously changes the reality on the reservations. No Masses, no giving communion to the elderly and the sick, no visitations, no shaking hands, no hugging or physical contacts. We hardly even see cars and people on the road! Our reservation now is more quiet than ever; it is like a ghost town.
I felt really bad that today I could not do a funeral for one of our parishioners who passed away couple days ago. Social distance is needed to protect our vulnerable people, especially the elderly and those with conditions such as diabetes, pneumonia, cancer and breathing problems.
Amid this uncertainty in our lives as we face the pandemic of Covid-19 I offer daily Mass and prayers in private. During this time I have moved into a deeper consciousness about how precious the gift of life that God has given me, to be His mediator – as a priest – offering Masses and prayers for the safety and protection of our people from this pandemic.
Of course, we are in dire need of a vaccine and I pray a lot for the experts to find one. But beyond that, I encourage people to take a leap of faith to believe and rely more on God’s help. Far beyond our fears of this coronavirus we need to take this time of isolation from distractions of the world and have a personal renewal where we focus more on the ONLY thing in this world that really matters: Jesus Christ, Emmanuel (God is with us), our Lord and savior.