Photo by Juri Benedikt for Unsplash
For the first time in my 17 years of life, my family missed Mass on Sunday.
This happened not because we wanted it to, but because the Archdiocese called for the cancellation to protect the public from the spread of the coronavirus. Now, this regular part of my week was suddenly gone and I honestly did not know how to feel about it.
As an alternative, my family went to church for the Holy Hour. In this Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, worshippers pray and contemplate sacred mysteries.
Usually, our church, St. Peter’s in Belleville, is well attended, with people packed in. But yesterday, people distanced themselves. Families spread out and sat in different pews. People wore gloves, even though they were indoors. I sensed a tension there, due to the coronavirus. The church was dead silent, and anytime someone coughed, several heads turned around. People seemed to be uneasy there. The priests were not with us. Only the Eucharist was present at the center of the altar.
My uncle was sitting two pews behind me, and to be frank, I was surprised to see him there. He comes twice a year to the U.S. for several months to work as a truck driver. He’s studying to be a dentist, and he uses the money he earns here to pay for his education and to support his kid and his girlfriend. With the COVID-19 pandemic, nobody wants things delivered, and the trucking business is losing jobs.
My uncle tried to leave for home on Friday, but the plane he was trying to get on to go back to Ecuador was cancelled. He was scared because he risked being exposed to the virus in New York at LaGuardia airport, even though he is in his mid-twenties. On Saturday, he was frantically looking for a flight back to Ecuador. I dropped him off yesterday at JFK airport in New York, and he will have to be quarantined today.
“Going Viral” is a blog tracking the highs and lows of life in the St. Benedict’s community as its members weather the effects of a worldwide coronavirus outbreak.