Where do we find God in COVID-19?
Priests are not immune to the fears and anxieties many are feeling right now.
“At first I said I was ‘frightened’, but then I changed the word to ‘overwhelmed’. I was ‘overwhelmed’ that something like this could happen,” Sydney Catholic Schools’ chaplain Father Gary Perritt (pictured) said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think all of us are overwhelmed,” he observed.
“It (COVID-19) has slowed us down and got us to think about ‘What are the essential things?’ and ‘Who are the essential people?’
“There’s a lot of silence at the moment. Maybe this silence is a new habit that could teach us to listen more to one another” – Father Gary Perritt
“I know for me, I’ve called people I haven’t spoken to for ages to ask ‘Are you okay?’ It’s prompted me to realise how important people are in my life. People I normally see regularly, I miss them. I video-conference, but it’s not the same.”
Asked, where does he find God in all of this? Fr Gary answered simply: “We can find God in one another and in helping one another.”
“Look at Him in our doctors, who fall tired and exhausted … police (who) patrol deserted streets, and they are not with their families because they are taking care of ours,” he said, citing the Archbishop of Lima, Carlos Gustavo Castillo Mattasoglio.
“The coronavirus has helped churchgoers, school teachers and students realise that churches are not being closed. Buildings are being closed. You are the church!” – Father Gary Perritt
“There’s a lot of silence at the moment. Maybe this silence is a new habit that could teach us to listen more to one another,” reflected Fr Gary.
“The way we are treating one another brings out the quiet heroes, heroes we sometimes hadn’t noticed before,” Fr Gary added, listing the school teachers, the nurses, the truck drivers delivering goods to our supermarkets, among others.
“The coronavirus has helped churchgoers, school teachers and students realise that churches are not being closed. Buildings are being closed. You are the church!
“We’ve seen all sorts of outreach from these closed buildings; (priests) calling more people than we’ve ever called before, priests streaming masses. This way, the church comes to you.”
Fr Gary’s tips to stop feeling overwhelmed and alone:
- Talk. Don’t keep your fear to yourself because it can then escalate. Tell people you’re frightened because it’s a natural response.
- I was overwhelmed by all the COVID-19 media so I switched to online media, so I could take back some control over my life.
- Some sites on the internet that helped me include the Sunday Mass Online with Bishop Brian – it is very well produced – and the Diocese of Lismore’s live online Sunday Masses. Bishop Greg Homeming’s homilies, his reflections on the Sunday readings and the coronavirus have been wonderful. They’ve helped me in my frightened, overwhelmed state and calmed me down.