We have collected here around the theme of face masks a few more vignettes on how FCJ sisters minister during COVID-19 times.
Alicia, fcJ, Greater Manchester, UK
My ministry is divided in two clear parts throughout the year: half of it I am a chaplain at Manchester Universities Catholic Chaplaincy. The other half I work welcoming English-speaking pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela as part of the team of Camino Companions. I should have travelled to Santiago in mid-April, but this was cancelled due to the lockdown in Spain. The Chaplaincy closed but we have moved some activities online, become experts in Zoom: Masses, a Bible course, a Rosary group, and any other opportunities to keep the students connected and support them in their isolation.
With new found time in my hands, I started searching for local volunteering opportunities and discovered Rainbow Surprise, a charity which aims to bring people together from different faiths and cultures to improve community cohesion in the local area, where many Muslim and Jewish families live. Their quick response to the COVID-19 crisis has been to run a food bank out of a park office, now serving over 100 food parcels each weekday to vulnerable families and individuals in in North Manchester, in collaboration with the local council. I am one of their volunteer drivers (top photo) and feel privilege to interact with a dynamic group of people loving and serving their community. Delivering parcels has required from early on wearing a face mask. Unfortunately, this limits the interaction as smiles are hidden behind it. Still that limited interaction, beyond the actual food and the occasional bouquet of flowers that arrive with the donations, is gratefully welcomed by the recipients.
FCJ Community in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
In Yogyakarta, Meita fcJ made around 110 face masks. They were given freely mostly for poor students, and for others such as scavengers, destitute persons, and some teachers. The community also distributed some relief good for people affected by COVID-19 pandemic in our neighbourhood.
Read more about FCJ life and ministry in Yogayakarta during the lockdown.
FCJ Community, Manila, Philippines
In the afternoon of the planned FCJ Bicentenary celebration in Manila, which had to be canceled, we received a phone call from the parish asking if we would help with the distribution of food vouchers that evening. Caritas Manila had received very substantial donations to help the very poor people who are badly affected by the lockdown. The relief help was to be distributed through parishes. We were tasked to distribute the vouchers, all allocated to different areas and equipped with masks and rubber gloves, with a special permission to break the curfew. The coordinators of the areas met us and together we went house to house to distribute the vouchers.
It was a most moving experience to see how much this financial help meant to the people who are struggling to feed their families at this time. Most of the people have lost their source of income because of the lockdown and the promised government aid does not always reach the most vulnerable.
It was a most unexpected but beautiful way of celebrating our Bicentenary and one we feel would have given joy to Marie Madeleine’s heart.
FCJ Community, Manila
Lynne, fcJ, Liverpool, UK
I have volunteered with a local group called SEWcial to make masks for key workers. They deliver all the material each week and collect the following week.
My grandmother’s sewing machine has come in handy!