This year 2020 would go down in the annals of history as no ordinary year. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed countless lives and shaken our major institutions such as family, church, and education to the core. This persistent microbe, also known as coronavirus, has tested our resolve to save both lives and livelihoods. The pandemic and our response to it revealed our strengths and our weakness both as individuals and communities.
Through it all, individuals and families continue to search for purpose and meaning. Many teachers ask if virtual teaching is an exercise in futility; health care workers wonder when it will end; the global business community fears that the economy would collapse despite the best intentions of their respective governments.
The heightened uncertainty, economic instability, fear and anxiety and the social fallout are as real as the virus itself.
As the Archdiocese of Port of Spain begins Vocations Awareness Week 2020 today, the family, our parishes, our schools and youth and young adult ministries must grasp this crisis with both hands and turn it around as a force and opportunity to call forth selfless service from our people. Said a different way, this pandemic crisis and the varied need created by it, is the rich soil in which vocations can germinate, sprout and flourish. A vocation, the Divine call to service of the Kingdom, is best heard amidst hardship, need and emptiness both at the material and spiritual levels.
The harsh social and economic reality of today could well tease out a positive response to God by young people through unleashing their personal generosity and altruistic self-sacrifice.
The then Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Frs Richard Ho Lung, Gerry Pantin and countless others, founders and foundresses of lay communities and convents know this well.
In other words, the silver lining behind the dark cloud of the pandemic is the yielding of a ‘yes’ to God to make a difference in the world today.
Every Catholic stands the chance of discovering a vocation in the midst of the pandemic fall out. There are young men and women who are literally a heartbeat and a decision away of finding fulfilment and peace if they would only ask, ‘What is God saying to me by and in this global pandemic?’ and, ‘How can I be of service to my fellow human beings in the craziness of life today?’
These basic questions are conversation openers with the Lord of the harvest. The Church is therefore challenged to create spaces of reflection in which life-changing and direction-changing questions can be asked of our faithful, particularly the youths and young adults.
The current need, the hardship and the difficulty in Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to focus youth and young adults on an alternative path, that is, a path of service.
We must grasp this opportunity with both hands. We must be prepared to ask the right questions at the right time; this is the time.