Many people have struggled with the fact that they could not physically go to church during the period of recommended quarantine.
Father Roshan D’Souza, a Pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Toronto, said that some of his parishioners mentioned that without church open, they would have to turn to faith alone to find miracles. “The second week of Lent we were asked to close down the church… having not celebrated Lent, Easter and the after Easter season, I felt an emptiness.”
Father Roshan felt that the Catholic Church had done really well following safety protocols during the pandemic, but also felt uncertain about how well it would do as Christmas approached.
“As a community and a Pastor, there were many challenges. Coming to the sacraments, last year’s confirmation and first communion, everything was on hold, so we had to plan… The children were so excited but COVID made a huge impact on that.”
Father Roshan added that there were still a lot of positives that resulted from the quarantine forced by COVID-19. “People are able to appreciate the gift of life. We cannot take anything for granted. This virus has changed the whole aspect of how people can look at life… That being said, nothing is in our hands. God is the creator. If God can create, God can destroy. We need to surrender to God’s will. I tell the people ‘do your best, and God will do the rest.”
Some people have taken church for granted thinking that the “doors are always open.” Maria Fernandes an active parishioner at St. Ann’s Parish in Toronto and a registered nurse at St. Michael’s Hospital, was shocked when hearing that her church closed due to the pandemic. “I missed the church. I know it’s just a building, but it’s the house of God. I felt like I could go there anytime to pray or just sit there in silence. I felt lost and I didn’t feel connected,” Fernandes confessed.
Watching mass on TV isn’t the same as being there in person. With the same thought, Fernandes added “receiving holy communion and being there present for the eucharist, was just not the same when watching the daily mass on the television. I didn’t receive the body and blood of Christ, so I felt like mass wasn’t complete.”
As churches began to slowly open back up, the community had to take serious precautions so it did not have to close again. “As soon as Father texted me that church was open, I was there. It’s all very distant now. There are barriers in place and we aren’t at capacity yet. We are doing ok. It all just looks very different but we are organized… At least I’m back and present in the church. It feels like I’m back home,” Fernandes continues.
The church community has gradually come together to practice their faith. While the second wave of COVID-19 is coming, many are trying to stay hopeful. As Father Roshan said, “Do your best, and God will do the rest.”