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 Kory Christianson, Executive Director of Development for St. Joseph’s Indian School.
The coronavirus affects us in significant ways. It has created health and financial challenges that are probably unique in the history of our organization and our own lives.
Our work environment is changing almost daily, but our office has three priorities during this time: ensure staff and student safety; provide on-going service to donors; and raise funds for our programs.
The virus forced measures upon us to reduce personal contact. We stopped all business travel for at least two months. We postponed or cancelled personal in-home donor visits and donor luncheons. It led us to stagger department work, break and lunch schedules. It changed in-person meetings with our vendor partners to Zoom or Skype meetings. We are continuing with our scheduled mail plans amidst an environment of caution and potential mandatory shutdowns.
Even in a relatively low impact state such as South Dakota, a level of uncertainty and anxiety in the workplace looms. The Sword of Damocles hovers on such worries, as “How will this change our service to Lakota families and children? How will this affect my own family? When will this end and who might contract the virus? Can we keep the organization financially strong?”
Indeed, the financial challenges are significant. For years, we worked to build a sizable reserve and the cratering stock market, for the time being, has dented that effort. Thirty-percent drops in equity values slam one’s personal investments as well. Uncertainty and disappointment can be all consuming.
With our children now at home studying online, secluded from others, no gatherings, we are limited to reading and watching television (including our weekly church services online). One has more time to think and contemplate how to react to events.
Recently, I heard an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan. He reminded me as a Christian that we are commanded not to worry (Matthew 6:25). To have concern, yes, but not to worry. In fact, Cardinal Dolan mentioned in the Bible that we are commanded 365 times “Do Not Be Afraid”. One for every day ironically. Fear and worry are ultimately destructive and a barrier to success and service.
Therefore, in my personal and professional life, I am trying to focus my prayers seeking strength and wisdom. How can I use this situation to help others and be a better father, husband, son, brother, friend and co-worker.
We cannot control events, but perhaps through faith we can control how we react to them and therefore something positive may occur to the glory of God.