Is a return to normalcy coming soon? Even while social distancing continues around the world, it’s time to begin thinking about the first normal day back at the parish, perhaps once a vaccine is available. No doubt the first Sunday Mass will be a poignant celebration for everyone. You want to acknowledge the hardships everyone has gone through and give thanks to God for His many blessings. How do you do that? Here are just a few ideas:
- Have a gathering afterward: Whether it’s coffee and doughnuts or a cookout, you want to provide your parishioners with the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in each other’s presence, catching up and checking in with each other.
- Acknowledge the losses: During the prayers of the faithful, name those whom you have lost and pray for everyone affected physically, emotionally, spiritually, or economically by the pandemic.
- Support your community: Through grief groups, employment seminars, and special times of prayer, make sure your ministries are fully recognizing and responding to people’s needs. (Also remember to pray for people immediately after they request it.)
- Sanctify this strange and special time: European churches are littered with special statues, side altars, and art acknowledging the Black Plague. You might consider doing the same by creating a permanent memorial in your parish that acknowledges the coronavirus pandemic and how God was present in it.
Utilizing some or all of these ideas, your parish can heal from the wounds caused during the pandemic. There may be a desire to “return to normalcy” as quickly as possible, and that’s not a bad impulse, but you also need to help your people grieve, celebrate, and acknowledge what has happened to them and bring these experiences to the Lord.