Another corona virus response — Sister Libbey Byrne: This is Church!Print
I reckon all the masses will be cancelled by the weekend!
Do you really think so?
A conversation at the end of a parish meeting in March, and so it came to pass.
My mind was a whirl… our parish has no resident priest and three towns 40 km apart.
Unable to live-stream masses from our own churches, older parishioners with no internet… how could we keep this community of the faithful connected with each other?
Nursing home visits, Rosary and adoration groups, all meetings and social activities held on church property, were cancelled.
I wrote a “newsy” email to as many addresses as I had – a short reflection, news relating to closures and cancellations, an article I thought might prove interesting and a cartoon.
During the next thirteen weeks, twenty-six editions of this newsletter were produced sustaining us through the lockdown.
Parish detectives found more addresses and printed copies for the front porch and volunteers took them for delivery where needed.
The newsletter grew to include commentaries on the Sunday and daily readings, activities for children, many more articles, lots of cartoons and the new “COVID humour” – thanks to those who are still supplying it six months later!
The front-page reflection took on a new theme each week and accompanied by a contemporary title relating the theme to daily life, world events and the weekly liturgy.
On my evening walks along the river, I passed the regulars and new acquaintances with a smile, and short conversation at a safe distance.
One glistening Sunday morning, I met Michael pushing a stroller. He is father of four and foster father to another three – two of whom have multiple disabilities.
As we talked, another parishioner and I engaged with the little girl who, although deaf, played “peep-o” with us and began to laugh and point to cars passing by.
Michael turned to me and said, “You know, Sister, this is Church!”, and I thought, ‘yes it is…’
The Body of Christ in the beauty around us, in the joys, sorrows and sufferings we see played out in the lives of our people and in the love which binds us all together.
- Until the middle of 2020, Sr Libbey was parish leader at Myall Coast Catholic Parish (encompassing St Brigid’s, Bulahdelah; Our Lady of the Rosary, Karuah and St Stephen’s, Tea Gardens). Sr Libbey is now one of the four Councillors of the Sisters of Charity of Australia.
Image 1: Sr Libbey Byrne
Image 2: Sr Libbey on the water