April 17, 2020

Pandemic leads to missing the Eucharist, treasured family memories and a shout-out to technology

Father John McCaslin, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, welcomes viewers to his Facebook livestreamed session on how to make pizza from items found in most kitchen cabinets. (Courtesy www.facebook.com/pg/saintmonicaindy)

Father John McCaslin, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, welcomes viewers to his Facebook livestreamed session on how to make pizza from items found in most kitchen cabinets. (Courtesy www.facebook.com/pg/saintmonicaindy)

Compiled by Natalie Hoefer

We asked readers of The Criterion to share how they are staying connected to their faith and faith communities with the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted all corners of the globe, including in central and southern Indiana.

Here are some of their responses.

‘Jesus is always with me’

In these uncertain times with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are fortunate to have the technology to be able to attend Mass online. As I am attending these Masses, I realize how much I miss receiving Communion. I have always had a soft spot for Jesus.

When I was a little girl, attending Mass with my parents at my home parish in Richmond, I would cry because Jesus was at the front of church and I could not go up to be with Jesus. As an adult, there were times when I would not be allowed to receive Communion, and I would cry at Mass because I could not be with Jesus.

I enjoyed my 15 years as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, helping distribute Communion during Masses in Richmond and Knightstown.

And as I am attending Mass online, I get a little weepy and feel the tears well up in my eyes, as I am not able to receive Communion.

The absence of physical Communion, not being able to receive the body and blood of Christ, makes me realize the personal relationship with Jesus that I have. Jesus is always with me, whether as a crucifix on my wall, the soft spot in my heart, or spiritual Communion.

Mary Catherine Kinnevey
St. Anne Parish, New Castle

Memory of a past quarantine-like time

My son teaches art at Noblesville High School [in Noblesville, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese]. He sometimes tells the kids stories from when he was growing up. He calls them “Mr. Smith stories.”

While the students are learning from home, he gives them assignments, and the kids report back to him. One boy reported back to him, and then asked him to tell a “Mr. Smith story.”

My son told me he said to the student, “I went through a time like you, when the schools were closed. It was a big snowstorm we now call the Blizzard of ‘78.” He told me he told the boy what he remembered most about being out of school for so long. My husband and I decided to re-do the kitchen cabinets, since we were stuck inside. We took the cabinets down, took off the varnish, sanded them down, re-varnished them and put them back up. That’s what he remembered about that time.

I have a daughter who has been using this time to go through and sort old photos and movies.

I hope other people write in. I would like to read other people’s stories.

Marcella Smith
Holy Spirit Parish, Indianapolis

‘Technology has been a blessing’

I’m a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, and I have to say—I’ve been so impressed with my parish’s efforts to keep the faith community connected digitally during this unprecedented time.

Like many parishes, St. Monica’s devoted priests and staff members have made possible the blessing of the Mass seven days a week via livestream.

They have also livestreamed the rosary each day from a different area of the parish campus, giving parishioners a glimpse of familiar and much-missed sights within the church and around the grounds.

“Zoom” has become the technology buzzword of the time. Accordingly, the parish has offered young adult meet-ups via Zoom.

But my favorite form of creative connection St. Monica has offered are livestreamed how-to sessions via the parish’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/saintmonicaindy, under “Videos”).

Trying to watch your money? Watch St. Monica School principal Eric Schommer as he demonstrates how to change the oil on a car. Or take notes as parish pastor Father John McCaslin explains how to make pizza with items typically found in every kitchen. And cook along with St. Monica Parish secretary extraordinaire Julia Gonzalez as she teaches how to make fish tacos and tortillas.

And to keep viewers focused on faith, each video includes Scripture readings, information about a saint and prayer petitions.

I’ve heard it mentioned in numerous talk-radio broadcasts and news analysis shows: We will emerge from this crisis with far more knowledge, capability and creativity on the digital front. Such technology has certainly been a blessing in keeping Catholics connected during this challenging time.

Natalie Hoefer
St. Monica Parish, Indianapolis

How are you coping with COVID-19?

During this time of uncertainty and church closings because of the coronavirus, The Criterion is inviting our readers to share their ideas and stories about how individuals and families are coping and maybe even thriving; how you are still trying to create a sense of community among your friends, neighbors and fellow parishioners in this period of social distancing; and also how you are using this time to become closer to God. By sharing your ideas and stories, from the humorous to the poignant, maybe you’ll inspire someone else to do the same or, at the least, create another welcomed human connection for all of us. Send your stories and ideas to reporter Natalie Hoefer at nhoefer@archindy.org. Or leave her a message on her work phone at 317-236-1486 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1486, and she’ll return your call as soon as possible. †

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