St. Alphonsa Syro-Malabar Church : COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Updates
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Given the recent actions (including school closures) and statements by government and medical authorities and, additionally, the increase in the number of CoVID-19 cases in Maryland I am taking the following precautionary measures in our parish, which I believe are prudent at this time.
I am suspending the Sunday School, Malayalam School, and Didache Classes until further notice
The Annual Lenten Retreat is canceled.
I am suspending any gathering/meeting of any kind other than the Holy Qurbana until further notice
There will be two Holy Qurbanas on Sundays – 9:00 a.m. English Holy Qurbana and 11:30 a.m. Malayalam Holy Qurbana
Daily Holy Qurbana, Way of the Cross and Adoration will be as per the weekly schedule
I recommend everyone leave the church premises soon after Holy Qurbana
As I mentioned before, if you are sick or are experiencing symptoms of illness you are not obliged to attend Sunday Holy Qurbana, and, out of concern for others, ought not to attend.
The world faced many of these epidemics in the past – from plague, to malaria, to wars. The church and its institutions raised above all fear and helped people everywhere. We in the 21st century, with all the advances in medicine – should be much more confident, that we can overcome. Hundreds of Catholics in the past, they raided their fear, and went all out to help others. A good example is St. Damien.
More than the coronavirus itself, I believe, most of us are grappled with fear and anxiety. This epidemic of fear and anxiety is spreading the much panic you see around us. We as Catholics, are a people of Hope. I know we all grappled with our mortality and what comes next. The collective panic we are witnessing today reveal our distorted relationship to the reality of our mortality and life eternal. Does these panic and fear put our faith and belief in things that are perishable than the one prize that really awaits us? I ask you to pray fervently, as our Bishop in his circular suggested.
Many of our parishioners who work in the medical field put their efforts to help others. We should thank each of them for their faith, love and concern for their fellow human beings. We should come out of our comfort zone and I call upon you during this Lenten season to take meaningful sacrifices by helping others especially through praying, helping those who may lose their jobs, those who are elderly and sick.
As a Catholic, we should not be contented with fear of death and know in whom we placed our trust. So let’s not give in to the epidemic of fear! Just as our Lenten penance is meant to deepen our relationship with God and our solidarity with all who suffer as the Lord did, we can allow these sacrifices and inconveniences in our daily lives to direct our prayers toward those who have died and their loved ones, our attention toward those who are ill or facing financial hardship and our actions toward strengthening the common good, both at home and abroad. The coronavirus poses a threat that knows no borders. As Catholics, neither does our love and concern for our neighbors.
I ask you to keep your trust in God and be faithful to His words.