23 April 2020

John Paul II Center alumni reflections on COVID-19

From around the world, three John Paul II Center alumni who are all religious leaders, reflect on the coronavirus crisis and what it means for the spiritual state of the world.

A message from Rome: “We are in the same boat,” Father Mak Caesar Abagna ‘19

On Friday, March 27, 2020, when Pope Francis decided to seek divine blessings for everyone, he reflected on an event recorded in Mark’s gospel. In this account, the disciples were in a perilous storm tossed boat. In their fear and panic, they cried for help. Francis then indicated, we are also currently facing a very disruptive and life threatening situation. No one is immune. This should then make us realize “we are in the same boat” buffeted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. So, we need to concentrate on the essentials, he recommended.

What is more essential now than saving lives? But who can save himself or herself? How can we rely on each other for help if we do not learn to dialogue and build a strong fraternity?

In the face of what our world is going through, what has dawned on me and saddens me is that I am helpless while many are dying; I am helpless while many are lonely; I am helpless while many are hungry. Who is to blame? Who is to fix it? What do we gain from hating others instead of loving them? What is the profit in “selling the poor for a pair of sandals”?

It is time we realised that, nothing benefits humanity more than love and justice in the use of the world’s resources. And for those who believe in the existence of God, disregarding a sense of stewardship and fraternity is tantamount to denying faith in God as the ultimate source of all that there is. We always need each other in our small “boat” called earth.

Pray for the world: Alum Father Michael Peters’ message from India

Here in India, we are all struggling to contain COVID-19, yet there is a long way to go… Many cases are found in my city – Bangalore. I am stuck here since there is no transportation and a lockdown of frontiers. We are allowed to move up to a three kilometer radius to get our essentials, but not together.

Many shops are shut except for medical and other essential things. Things are quite gloomy, particularly the migrant workers from other states desperately seeking ways to reach their hometown with no avail. The Indian government is doing its best to contain this pandemic. But the cooperation from people is quite lacking in many paces at this moment. There are few death cases in different states of India.

We are praying hard to God so that people may find ways to put up with this passing struggle.

I am particularly very pained and very concerned about my Italian friends in Italy and their families. I studied at the Angelicum for my Philosophy, Theology, Licentiate and Doctorate through the sponsor of the Russell Berrie Fellowship. I am very concerned about the Angelicum and its staff. They are all in my daily prayer. Let us help others and help yourselves so that others are safe in every way possible. LET US PRAY FOR THE WORLD!

Put your faith into action during this crisis: Alumna Sister Pascalina Purobi Chiran’s message from Bangladesh

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a huge challenge for human society in terms of prevention, treatment of those infected, social and economic impacts on daily life, and livelihood of millions across the globe. In Bangladesh the Prime Minister has announced that the government will provide food support to five million people across the country. Catholic communities are also coming together irrespective of their size and scales of operation to stand by the poor, and humanitarian organizations are responding to the crisis, too.

For sure, I can say that together we can do so much against coronavirus. COVID 19 brought us spiritually and emotionally more connected to each other in the communities to stand for the vulnerable people.

'Whatever you have done unto the poorest you have done to me’ this is a call to put faith into action at this time of crisis. We all are trying to deal and cope with this phenomenon that has taken over the whole world. We are staying at home, readjusting to a different kind of lifestyle. We are all advised by local authorities to stay home as much as we can, not only for ourselves but also for the sake of others.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other we – the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions – are spending our time in prayer together and giving more of our time with our elderly sisters and orphan children in our premises. I think it is time to be silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7) and take care of our vulnerable members in the community with acts of kindness and compassion.