It is hard to believe that just one month ago, our lives seemed to be routine and normal. I served in my parish assignment on Ash Wednesday, at St Agatha Parish in Milton Massachusetts, not realizing that it would be the last time I would be with the priests and parishioners of this amazing parish community. Pope St John XXIII Seminary would go on spring break a few days later. As I was watching the news unfold during that week, it was hard to imagine the scope of what was to come from Covid-19.
Shortly after our return from break, we were informed that masses in the Archdiocese of Boston would be suspended for the upcoming weekend. Then the news would get worse for us, as Covid-19 began its run across the United States, masses would be suspended indefinitely here in the Archdiocese. We would no longer be allowed to travel to our assignments for the health and safety of all living here at the seminary. Tougher decisions would follow, including canceling Easter break, and having us remain in session through what would have been the Easter break. This decision was made again for the health and safety off all priests and seminarians who live under one roof.
We quickly had to re-educate ourselves in our daily lives here at the seminary. There were many adjustments to daily life and to the class structure. But this time, most Universities were transitioning to online classes, and other Seminaries were closing and following the same path. Our seminary decided to stay open and we too had to adjust. Outside, adjunct faculty members were asked not to come into the building again for our safety, so we had to adjust to classes via Zoom or Skype, discussion board learning, and we still had some traditional classes in the classroom, from those who lived here.
It has not been an easy adjustment, but I think we are all doing well with it. For me, the hardest adjustment was not being able to go back to Saint Agatha Parish, where I had been assigned on weekends since last September. As a Transitional Deacon, I was truly loving my weekends in the parish, and loved being with the people of the parish. I was very active in the parish and was even working with the teens who would have received Confirmation on March 22. Unfortunately, that has been postponed until a later date, in which I will not be able to attend, since it will be after my return to Scranton. It has been extremely difficult in knowing that I cannot go back to the parish, to offer one more homily, one more smile, or a heartfelt thank you to the wonderful priests, staff, and parishioners of Saint Agatha. I feel that I have been left with a huge void in my heart and will not be able to fill it until I get that opportunity to say “thank you.”
The uncertainty and craziness of this Covid-19 pandemic has given me a lot of time to reflect upon my upcoming Ordination to the Priesthood. Now more then ever, the faithful will need priests. They are missing the Sacrament of Reconciliation, receiving the Eucharist, and missing the ability to attend daily or Sunday Mass. I believe that when this is over, the faithful will once again be flocking to the church. I believe many who have fallen away for one reason or another will once again return to church. With all of this weighing on my mind, I am ready to be ordained. I am ready for what God has in-store and I am ready to hit the trenches and get to work for the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton. God called me to the Priesthood, and I am ready to serve and help His people, in any way that I can, when this pandemic comes to an end and God willing for many years to come.