By Koreen Simon
St Anthony’s, Point Fortin
The cloud that COVID-19 brought over 2020 was thick, yet in the midst of this cover, peeked short rays of intermittent sunshine. Adjusting to the new normal was hard and still remains a challenge, even though it has been roughly ten months. This is not who we are. We are social butterflies, so restricting our physical interaction with our friends, family and loved ones was like placing us in chokehold or maybe a trapped elevator. Ironically, while most felt this way from the beginning, some of us who had an ‘ok’ start to the lockdown, only experienced the asphyxia of social restriction during its second phase with severe intensity.
It was depressing, overwhelming and ongoing, with no end in sight. We were screaming to be let out to breathe and live, but we couldn’t. Imagine not being able to retreat to a place that brings us solace and peace, a place that we could let our cries out, CHURCH. Oh boy, what a trap!!! That was the feeling, like a trap that restrains you from living. However, during the reset, we acknowledged that CHURCH was not the building, but instead our families at home and the community of parishioners and friends that we forged. We were forced to step back and appreciate the most valuable around us. Embracing online Mass was fuel for the soul, giving rise to a need for more spiritual engagement, the formation of a Bible study class.
The Biblical Studies and Faith Formation Class was born in August 2020 after Parish Priest Fr Cornelius responded to the yearning of God’s people for spiritual food. It was an avenue for us to learn, grow in knowledge and delve deeper into our faith, gain strength by the Word and use it at a time when the struggle was real. It is, and remains just as intended, a beautiful haven for sharing, learning and understanding, not only the power and strength of the word of God, but for life’s challenges.
An online community was formed with approximately 30 persons joining in the first couple weeks where the structure of the Bible was taught. In the ensuing weeks, the books of Genesis and Exodus were discussed, including a welcomed awareness session on a common human welfare challenge, mental illness. Friends of Fr Cornelius were also invited to share on their faith journey at times, to encourage us as a family. We needed this and looked forward to every week.
So, during this pandemic, where our faith stumbled and our refuge physically inaccessible, we continue to hold on to God, coming together weekly on a Wednesday via Zoom to pray, sing, read, share, discuss and learn more on our faith, and in so doing find personal strength whilst supporting each other along this journey. Sunlight peaking through in the midst of the heavy cloud.
For the Biblical Studies and Faith Formation Class of the St Anthony’s Parish in Point Fortin, we are grateful and feel empowered to continue on in faith as we close 2020 and look forward towards 2021.