I hope you’re all keeping safe.
For those of you who were at Mass last weekend, you may recall me saying that the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact it has had worldwide is quite overwhelming. However, I believe God is using this experience to speak to us individually and collectively as a church and as human beings in general. Perhaps he is telling us to slow down and to listen. The question is, “Are we listening to him and do we have the capacity to discern what he is saying to us?”
Personally, this has been a time of reflection and prayer for me. I am trying to hear what the Lord is saying. I must confess that just like for many of you, this has not been easy for me. It’s sad to see travelers stranded and flights cancelled and people in isolation. I was planning to go home after Easter but I guess it may not happen if this continues. It’s sad to hear of so many deaths around the world, the sickness, suffering and emotional pain many people are experiencing due to COVID-19 and the consequent shutdown. Even though there haven’t been many deaths in my country of Nigeria due to the Coronavirus, a lot of people are dying daily due to violence and persecution. Just last Sunday over 300 people died due to what they claimed to be a pipeline explosion. Among them were many students, a priest and a nun who were celebrating Mass. Whenever lives are taken, whether by conflict or disease, my heart bleeds.
Some parishioners have expressed to me their fears, anxiety, frustrations and sadness for not being able to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion. We can’t even gather as a group in the church to pray. Some have wondered whether we will ever get the people back in our church if this lingers. Honestly speaking, I don’t know how this will impact our church and our faith community. But I have strong faith and hope that everything will be alright again and that God will do something new in our lives and in our church through this experience. One of my favourite passages of scripture is Romans 8:28-39 which says, “We know that everything works unto good to those who love God… And nothing will ever separate us from the love of God…”, not even the Coronavirus! No matter what happens, God is with us, he loves us and he is in control of our lives. He will surely save us!
I believe that this is a moment for us to reflect on what it means to be a priest, a Christian and a member of a faith community/parish family. Is the church the building where we worship, or the people that gather to worship? Without diminishing the importance of the building/temple, I agree with the Church which defines herself as ‘the People of God’.
If that is the case, it implies that this whole experience may be calling us to rethink a new way of being Church in our modern time. It is a call to return to the origins of Christianity, to become once again like the early disciples of Christ who gathered in their homes to share the word of God, to sing and to pray. They loved and cared for one another such that no one was in need. It was that witness of faith that made people say, “See how much they love each other”. And more people joined their assembly and the Church grew in number and in faith.
In the face of this Coronavirus and the shutdown, there are so many people who are in need and we are called to reach out and care for them. How do we reach our parishioners, the sick and needy around us? That’s a challenge for all of us as parishioners.
A few days ago, a parishioner came to me with an envelope containing money and asked me to give it to another parishioner who is sick and hurting. And she did it anonymously. When the sick person received it, he nearly broke into tears because someone cared and came to his help. Also, some parishioners have reached out to provide groceries to some people in need and some others have given donations to pay for the hospital bill of a sick woman. These are wonderful things God is doing through human instruments. I think that’s what we need more and more. That’s what it means to be a church. I thank each one of these parishioners and all those who are helping others in one way or the other. May God bless and reward you abundantly.
I’ve wondered what our Church will be like once we emerge out of this. I think it depends on how each one of us respond. I believe if we open our hearts to God, we will see the new things God is doing in our midst. God will bring us back and help us to rebuild. At the end of it all, we will have a renewed church, we will come back to work together as one parish family/community that is united in mind and heart.
I cannot thank enough the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), the staff and parishioners who have stepped up to support us. I thank those who have already started making donations by E-Transfer and PAR. I thank you for your prayers. I offer the Rosary and Mass each morning for you and for your families and for the whole world.
Finally, please stay connected with the parish via email and the website (www.ctkdartmouth.com) and let’s continue to reach out and support one another. Please be patient and bear with us if we cannot meet all your needs as quickly as we would like to. We will be doing our best to respond as much as we can. Fr. Anthony, Fr. DeCoste and I will explore the possibility of celebrating Mass on Sundays which will be streamed live. Some other parishes and Archbishop Mancini will also be offering live-streamed Masses at different times (including in French). We hope it will work out well and you will be able to join us from the comfort of your homes. More updates on this will be on our website soon.
We suggest that you find other ways of keeping your faith alive as a family until we are able to resume our weekly Masses. Pray the Rosary, read the Bible and share your experiences of what God is doing in your life or in the lives of your loved ones.
I miss you all – I miss the hugs and the happy smiles. But I hope it won’t be for too long. Take care and God bless. Love you all.
Fr. Toochukwu Okafor
(Note: Please read Philippians 4:4-8, and Psalm 23).
11 thoughts on “Reflection from Fr. T (March 20, 2020)”
God bless you and Fr. Anthony, and Fr. DeCoste. thank you for this beautiful message.
We will all wanting to receive the body and blood of Christ the pews will overflowing missing everyone as well but do good people are reaching out to each other
Hugs being sent to you and Father Anthony🤗👐
Take care and stay safe
Thank you to you, Fr. Anthony and the staff for keeping us updated. And also especially for the links to the Masses being streamed.
My cousin is in hospital in TOTAL ISOLATION after just undergoing stem cell transplant surgery to combat cancer. The room is about 8×8 and that is his space for the next few months as his immune system rebuilds. Lest we complain….
I’ve forwarded the links to him and I’m sure he will be happy to participate in Mass.
Thank you for your beautiful letter of encouragement to all, it is very heartfelt and loving to everyone Father!!! So if there is anyone who needs anything, please call me or Harry and we would do anything. Home is 902-435-0303. Or all Harry’s cell @ 902-225-4432 or me @ 902-233-7765 day or night Blessings and smiles to all there and may God protect you through this confusing time. GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US 😊🎚👍❤️
Thank you Father T.
As usual Father….You raise me up! Thank you so much. I just arrived from Florida on Sunday and I cannot express how happy I am to be back in Canada. It was fearful as each day the virus seemed to be multiplying and I needed to feel safe. I have been self isolating and It really is a time of reflection and silence. My day always begins with gratitude for my many blessings and the gift of God running through my veins but these words seem to have more power and meaning now. I too have wondered what God’s plan is throughout this time. So many verses. The one that comes to mind( don’t know which verse in Matthew) but it’s “ come to me all who labour and have heavy hearts and I will give you rest” Something like that.
We need to support and encourage each other during this heartbreaking journey. We cannot consume ourselves with negative thoughts or there will be more deaths not due to the virus. My small investment is everything I have and my pension is very small. The stock market is horrific and I am in danger of loosing everything. But I continue to say and believe that God will take care of my needs. I think of the Caribbean islands that were flattened by hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. The lives and homes Perished and the tremendous daily necessities gone. They united and recovered. We will also in time. I pray daily that this will not reach third world countries. They ( as we know and you stated) have enough to contend with. I’m so very sorry to hear of the tragedy. Intentional or unintentional. We are so very very blessed. Even through these times of uncertainty I feel so incredibly blessed. Perhaps that is part of God’s plan, for people to be more aware and appreciative of the blessings we have that we take for granted. God bless us all and give us the courage and faith to sustain us daily.
Thank you Fr T for your positive feedback and love.
We are praying for an end to this nightmare and a return to normality. May God bless us all. He is in control of our lives.
Two of my favourite passages. Thank you for all your words and deeds,and may you be blessed. Yours in Christ, Gloria Godsoe. ( I have returned from the U.S.and am currently in ‘isolation’ for two weeks.)
Thank you for being our Shepard at this difficult time. God will bring us through this.
Just thinking of all of you at this time in our life, where we have time to pray, think, and show our love 💕 to others. Keep safe and know that you are being prayed and thought of with love and respect to The 3 Priests we miss.
Dear Fr Toochukwu, Fr Anthony, Fr DeCoste, Deacon Bernie, Deacon Danny, Deacon James and Deacon Gerald, Our Leadership Team, Pastoral Council, Fiancial Council, Our Staff, All our ministries and Leaders and all our dear parishioners and their families. Theresa and I (Anthony) Mac Isaac have been vacationing and visiting our youngest son , Dan and his wife, Kate in New Zealand since Feb 6. We had a wonderful time. It is just a wonderful and beautiful country. We attended church when one was available and when not available we watched the National Catholic Mass on YouTube. We have been praying for all of you everyday. We arrived home this Sunday March 22 and have to be on isolation for 14 days. We will watch the National Catholic Mass on you tube every day and keep you all and your families in our prayers. We tried to watch the masses from St Benedict’s at 9m and the mass at 11 am with Archbishop Mancini, but it didn’t transmit over the internet very well , so we watched the National Catholic Mass on YouTube. Thanks be to God for the wonderful technology He helped men create. We miss receiving the Blessed Sacrament,but we received it spiritually. We know this situation we are all in do to the very dangerous Covid-19 virus will test all our faith but I know and pray to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to bless and be with all of us and our families to send forth His Faith , Hope, Love,Peace and Healing in these very difficult times. Stay safe and healthy and do not be afraid for God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to be with us always through the Holy Spirit.
Thanks for all the good you do,
Prayers, Love and Hugs,
Anthony and Theresa Mac Isaac