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. Rafael Querobin, SCJ, who began his new assignment at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston just as the impact of COVID-19 was beginning to be seen in the United States. He writes:
I have heard from people in this quarantine that they want to get back to their routines as soon as possible. I hadn’t established a routine here in Houston when we started the quarantine, or “Stay in Place.” I had just started to celebrate masses, baptisms, Quinceaneras, scheduled interviews with couples.
But after two weeks, everything seemed to be silenced. Those early days were challenging and exciting, and now, after this exciting beginning in my new assignment, I realize the problems that this virus brought to our parish and the world.
Everything is new and different at the same time. It is strange to look at the closed church, the school without students, and the empty office. Since March 15, my steps have been limited to a triangle between the rectory, the office, and the church. The masses that we broadcast on Sundays have been a way of keeping in touch with our parishioners and with people from all over the world. We are surprised by the number of people who have followed our broadcasts.
I have tried to live a personal routine of prayer, reading, language studies, and physical activities (inside my room). A good time of the day is sharing with Fr. Tim. He knows a lot about my country and my culture. [Fr. Rafael is originally from Brazil] I ask a lot of questions about his life experience and the history of the US Province. Also, I have called people who I haven’t talked to in a long time.
I have faced this time of detachment as if I were living in the novitiate again. I consider my novitiate to be a unique and special time. Of course, the circumstances are different and the concerns are many at the moment.
After this time has passed, we will have an enormous mission waiting for us. I am sure that we will need to be with people and accompany their needs. I believe that the most important thing for us right now is to live one day at a time and do what we always said we didn’t have time for.