The World Health Organization has stressed that emotional and physical well-being of people over 60 in every society are at greater risk because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also suffer the most from measures which are taken to mitigate its spread. For this reason, many parishes including those in the Diocese of Georgetown, are trying to support their senior citizens.
Catholic Standard reported that the charitable groups in some parishes, such as the Ladies of Charity and the Society of St Vincent de Paul, along with parishioners, have helped to coordinate the packaging of food hampers and other necessities from donations of cash and kind which they received.
The hampers are then distributed to the more needy members of their communities. Others have tried to just stay in touch and render whatever assistance is needed and possible, the diocesan weekly said.
Amid the pandemic, members of the Catholic clergy, lay ministers and faithful in Guyana are redoubling efforts to continue being Church by maintaining communication to accompany each other through the challenging times, and to keep practising their faith.
Many of them are using technology to be more creative in their ministry and to foster and maintain the sense of the larger community despite physical separation.
With government-imposed restrictions on movement and gatherings now into their sixth week, more priests have been transmitting Mass and prayer services online, while catechists and parishioners have also been posting words of hope, comfort, reassurance and other messages to encourage their communities to continue keeping in touch with each other.
“Some parishes have also had online streaming of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, meditations, Bible study, evening prayer and other initiatives to allow more people to become involved in or return to parish community activities,” the article said.
Fr Carl Philadelphia, the newly appointed parish priest of Church of the Ascension, New Amsterdam, Berbice, has been celebrating daily Mass outside the closed front door of the church for a limited few who maintain social distancing.
Fr Carl also calls families and pray with them on the phone. “It is a very challenging time to minister,” he told the Catholic media, “when you see the needs but are limited in how you can respond,” he said.
Catholic Standard said that the work across the diocese is made all the more difficult by the tremendous financial challenges parishes and ministries are facing because weekly offertory collections, special appeals and collections have declined because of the suspension of Masses and the economic crisis due to COVID-19.
Recently, the article mentioned, Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB outlined a number of ways in which people can continue to make their weekly offerings although they are not physically attending Mass.
Bishop Francis told Catholic media that at present the financial situation varies from parish to parish. In some cases, he said, people are finding ways to continue making their offerings.
“In other situations, parishes have had to dig deep into their reserves, while unfortunately in a few extreme cases, staff have had to be laid off.”
The Bishop added that this may not be the time to be seeking more money since he is aware that many of the faithful are feeling stressed about their economic future even if they remain employed.