Hey guys, +JMJ
I wanted to send an update to you all with what’s been going on here at the Catholic Center in light of the events surrounding COVID-19, how we’re responding to it, and how this affects you all.
I’m sure you all have already seen the memo from President Cabrera about moving to online instruction for the rest of the semester: (https://www.usg.edu/coronavirus/). The Archdiocese of Atlanta has also issued a memo (https://archatl.com/news/2020/03/coronavirus-update-march-16/) suspending all public masses for the next 3 weeks, until after the weekend of April 4-5. This includes suspending in-person faith formation, and any large gathering events are to be canceled or postponed. They have, however, said that people should still be able to come to the church for private prayer and there should still be opportunities for confessions.
In light of these events and following the indications of the Archdiocese and the directives of health care professionals, all public masses and events will be suspended for the following 3 weeks. The Catholic Center will still be open for private prayer in the main chapel (please practice social distancing), the adoration chapel will be closed, and we ask that the Catholic Center only be used for prayer, and that you remain home if you are sick or showing symptoms.
I will also be offering extended time for confessions, on weekdays (except Wednesdays) 4:30-6:30 pm, and on Sundays from 10-11:30 am and 2:30-4:30 pm in my office.
We sent out a number of resources for you all on the Good Tidings, but I wanted to explain what they were and why they matter. So much of what we can love about college is the community life, so it can be particularly difficult to be spending extended time away from our community, especially in a time of upheaval and uncertainty. I know also that this year has been one of change and disappointments (change in chaplain, Peru mission trip being canceled, moving to distance learning, etc.). So much of what was thought to be stable, in society, in life here at the CC, etc. has been swept away.
Fr. Luigi Giussani once said, “The circumstances through which God has us pass are essential and not secondary factors of our vocation, of the mission to which He calls us. If Christianity is the announcement of the fact that the Mystery became incarnate in a man, the circumstances in which one takes a position about this, in front of the whole world, is important to the very definition of witness”. If the circumstances through which we pass are essential to our vocation, to what God is calling us to, then we need to help each other to follow what’s happening, not in a reactive way, but to respond to what God is inviting us to.
Part of my seminary studies included prison ministry, and I remember a small community of men that had told me how grateful they were for their time in prison, because it was the space in which they had met the Lord and were changed. They lived a life of prayer, study, and community within their system, and had in many ways transformed their confining circumstances from a prison to practically a monastery.
We recognize that it’s not easy being home away from our communities, and if we are under quarantine that can be a confining experience. I’d like to propose that we live this time in an almost monastic way, of working, praying, and living community life where we are (this includes with our families, but also digitally with those that help us to grow). Here are a few practical suggestions:
This has been an unpredictable and trying time, but let’s continue to help each other to say yes to what’s being given to us. Know that I am offering my private mass for all of you daily, and remembering you there. If you have any questions or problems, please don’t hesitate to reach out.