News from SOA (Newsletter Editorial - November 2020)
Unless you are living in a totally different world from the rest of humanity, the term COVID19 is well known. Along with other words like lockdown, quarantine, self-isolation, social distancing and others, which have become part of our day-to-day vocabulary, the COVID19 Pandemic defines much of what our world is experiencing these days. It is, as they say, the “talk of the town’. Face masks and shields are worn for protection and have become part-and-parcel of everyday life.
Our Society of Missionaries of Africa has not been immune and we have had to adjust to the changing and challenging landscape. How we interact with one another in community has been challenged. How we carry out our meetings at different levels of our Society has been challenged. Candidates, who completed their Spiritual Year, had to wait until they could gradually move to their places of Stage. Those who had completed Stage were delayed in returning home for their holidays before moving to their respective places for Theology studies. Ordinations that were planned months before had to be rescheduled with a reduced number of those who could attend. In general, our normal way of doing things has been challenged and adjustments needed to be made.
Within our own little corner of our Society, we have not escaped the bite of COVID19. Confreres and candidates were stranded in places, unable to move due to travel restrictions and the closing down of International air travel. Ordinations were postponed. In India, ways and means had to be found to get our students back to our formation centre in Bangalore to start the new academic year. Our students at Suvidya college in India and the University of San Carlos in the Philippines currently follow courses via the Internet. Our communities both in the Philippines and in India have undergone different versions of lockdowns and quarantines and it has not ended.
The reality is, COVID19 is in our midst and it does not look like it will disappear anytime soon. It is something we have to learn to live with, which has wide-ranging effects from economics to the way we relate with one another through social distancing. The positive news is that many people are working hard to bring this pandemic under control.
There is no denying that our world is changing and we, as individuals and as a Society, need to change with it. We need to do whatever we can to protect ourselves, our communities, and the people around us. However, life must continue. We must face the challenges ahead of us with hope both as individuals and as a Society.
‘I have hope in the peoples’ of the world who ‘are going to take lessons from this crisis to re-evaluate their lives. We’re going to come out better. Fewer of us, of course, many are still sick and it’s hard. But I have faith, we’re going to come out better,’ (Pope Francis – March 25, 2020)