By Father Michael Callaghan, c.o.
It was a year ago on March 14 when the first death from COVID-19 was confirmed in New York City. It was that same date that the Diocese of Brooklyn suspended public Masses and our parishes ceased public worship in order to help mitigate the spread of the virus, deadly to so many.
Sometimes when we think of this period, we refer to it as when the church was “closed,” but in reality, the church was never closed. The church, the Body of Christ, took stock and began to adapt and adjust in how we gathered to pray, how we reached out to others, how we prioritized our lives.
The priests learned how to film Masses and messages and uploaded them to our Facebook and YouTube channel with the help of our musicians and lay ministers. We completed construction on new parish offices, moved, and resumed day-to-day activities with staff on site. We brought communion to those in quarantine. We learned to Zoom, we sure have learned to Zoom!
Across our community, from small groups to faith formation, RCIA and 12-step recovery, PPCs, and the array of committees and groups, we have been online together, really and truly “in this together.”
In our parishes, people have brought one another groceries, helped people access technology, calmed distressed hearts, offered compassion and support to one another. Some have lost family, parish members, and good friends over this year. We have mourned, but not in the way familiar to us.
We have celebrated, but certainly not as planned, with simpler weddings, baptisms, confirmations and Communions postponed and celebrated in small pods. We have begun to look at and act on racial and social equity in deeper ways and help one another navigate the maze of websites to secure appointments.
Indeed, the church has never been closed. The faithful Body of Christ, the Church, has been hard at work in hospitals, living rooms, back yards, markets, and countless other places. A year into this, with hope on the horizon for a new normal, we thank you for keeping faith with us at the Oratory and for keeping faith when the days have been more difficult to bear than we might have thought possible.
In our liturgy two weeks ago, St. Paul reminded us in 1 Cor. 1:25 “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” May the foolishness of God continue to bind us together as we work to move forward in our common life.
Father Callaghan, c.o. is a priest of the Brooklyn Oratory of St. Philip Neri and the pastor of Assumption Parish in Brooklyn Heights.