Pastoral care in times of pandemic

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(El Salvador) Facing the challenges that the reality presented to all, the Redemptorists developed a new and creative way to bring the Gospel to people, especially the poorest and the most abandoned.

After a promising start of the year, the Redemptorist presence in El Salvador, in Our Mother of Perpetual Help parish and in the Juniorate of San Alfonso, it was by law to enter total quarantine in the face of the coronavirus threat that hovered in neighboring countries consequently bringing about the temporary closure of the celebration of the Eucharist with the people of God and of all pastoral activities of the parish. The last mass in the Church was evocative, on a Eucharistic Thursday, where, after having kept the Blessed Sacrament in the internal chapel of the house, the people, in tears, sang “stay, Lord, stay with me”.

Our parish was active within the group of theology students and priests. Videos were also made with reflections on the Gospel of the day, which were subsequently transformed into reflections on the books of Saint Alphonsus such as “The glories of Mary” and “the preparation for death”. In addition, the prayer of the rosary, some novenas, the transmission of the Holy Hour and retreats with the Redemptorist themes every end of the month were very important. Social networks were also used to provide training, first communion catechesis, accompaniment and counseling through virtual and telephone channels, and vocational ministry was also continued through these means.

The online pastoral service started with a small group of followers, however it was possible to transcend borders and we were able to reach other distant countries that provide us with support. Other types of entertaining videos were also made, such as the unforgettable soccer tournament with an unexpected ending, serenades for Mother’s Day, a festival of Marian songs and music videos.

Not everything remained in the networks: on certain occasions they had to come out of quarantine for important reasons, always adopting security measures, to administer the anointing of the sick, funerals, confessions, the collection and delivery of food. On the solemnity of Corpus Domini and on the feast of Perpetual Help, the atrium of the church was opened so that people, in an orderly way and with appropriate precautions, could adore and pray before the Lord and ask for the powerful intercession of our Mother in these difficult times, not only because of this terrible virus, but also because of the lack of employment, psychological instability and various needs, the result of the measures taken to face the pandemic.

This community, made up of priests and religious with temporary vows, has contributed to evangelization through radio and television programs and virtual lessons in moral and pastoral theology at the San José de la Montaña major seminary, in the city of San Salvador.

Currently the country is no longer in mandatory quarantine. However, the challenge continues to grow, so more creativity and important decisions are needed, always with God’s help, to be able to continue this experience, even when masses have already started on certain days of the week. In any case, we invite you, through Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, to look for us as Redentoristas503 and to observe all that has been done. We continue to pray and wait for God for a prompt solution to this pandemic.

Javier Taylor

Redemptorist

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