Reflections: Fr. Praveen Kumar Richard, SCJ

Fr. Praveen with a student from St. Joseph’s

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. Praveen Kumar Richard, SCJ, a member of the South Dakota Community.

Nature is mysterious. There is a theory that every 100 years a pandemic happens. In 1720 there was the plague, in 1820 cholera, in 1920 the Spanish flu, and now, the 2020 coronavirus. What is happening? Researchers have said that all of these pandemics we mentioned above have exactly the same pattern as the coronavirus outbreak.

I want to redefine COVID-19 as “Care Others Victoriously in Difficulties”

The pandemic has placed the whole world in a situation of fear and panic; the normal life of every single person is upended, regardless of age. Those of us living in the small town of Chamberlan, SD, are no different. This pandemic has impacted us in many ways. Following the guidelines of the CDC and other agencies, we extended spring break at St. Joseph’s Indian School and asked the students to remain at home until further notice. At the same time, we are concerned about their nutrition, knowing that not all families are able to provide what is needed. Thus, staff from St. Joseph’s went to the reservations with food donations for the families.

Life on campus has been more quiet and almost lifeless. We work at our respective offices, yet we avoid personal interactions and meetings because others’ safety is our responsibility. Personally, I often feel helpless. However, the isolation is needed in the battle to prevent the wider spread of COVID-19.

Both the dioceses of Rapid City and Sioux Falls have asked us to stop public gatherings, including Mass. It is sad to suspend worship at the churches but at this time there are things more important than being together physically.

“Care Others Victoriously in Difficulties” is a thought of mine to approach this deadly pandemic. It is what calls us to do the extra hand-washing and other safety measures. It is why we must remain apart. We must pray and make our spiritual union with those who suffer, as well as the healthy. Maybe, this is a God-given time to intensify our prayers and penance for the world of godlessness and global greediness. Let’s unite our prayers in one voice to the merciful God to show his mercy and wisdom to find healing and solution to this contagious pandemic.

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