Rising to the Challenge - St Teresa Church, Girgaum
STORIES OF COURAGE AND COMPASSION
The COVID-19 pandemic and the enduring and punishing lockdown threw up tremendous challenges to the Church, the clergy and faithful of St Teresa Church, Girgaum. Keeping the flock in close embrace, and ensuring its physical and mental integrity, meeting its material needs, and above all, ensuring its spiritual and emotional well-being, was a challenge before the parish leadership.
Catering to the Material Needs of the poor of the parish, and its surroundings, irrespective of creed or caste, the main initiatives being undertaken are:
• Distribution of groceries and provisions—rice, flour, dal, tea, sugar and oil—since April.
• Distribution of clean, usable clothes by the youth, under the guidance of the priests of the parish.
• 100 kg rice (in packs of 5 kg) and 1 kg dal distributed to poor families since May.
• Bags with ready-to-eat food, bananas, bottled water, masks and toiletries distributed to poor journeying migrants in the first week of June.
• Additional 500 kg rice distributed in portions of 5 kg each, since the last week of June.
• Medicines and groceries to all needy families, paid for by sponsors, including Senior Citizens.
• Cash Aid of Rs 3,500.00 to each of 10 SSVP adopted families from SSVP and Parish funds, plus additional rations from sponsors.
To enhance Parishioners’ spirituality and to keep them connected to God and Church, the following spiritual projects were undertaken:
• 24 x 7 Prayer Offering - one hour of prayer at home. Prayer sheets were provided from March 20 to 31, 2020.
• 1,000 Rosaries Chain, followed by daily Rosary, even in communities via social media, all through May.
• Lectio Devina – day to day guided group for fifteen days.
• 30 parishioners broadcasting a personal reflection on the daily Gospel reading, one and half minute video presentation each of the 30 days of June.
• Since June 07, each SCC assists remotely for online Mass (Cantors, lectors, technical assistance).
• Faith-changing testimonies of parishioners through videos.
• Since July 01, parishioners are appointed to take up one hour of prayer each, from 5.00 a.m. to 12.00 midnight.
Catering to the Emotional Needs and activities for parish well-being, follow-up calls and messaging on social media to sick, home-bound, senior citizens and those living alone, by the Parish Priest and PPC members of the various Communities.
The funeral of a senior and much loved parishioner elicited the assistance of the concerned PPC and Community members, keeping in mind the restriction in numbers.
Building Parish and Community Morale: To uplift, entertain and keep up the morale, various initiatives were planned.
• Regular activities for children– videos of singing, dancing, cooking etc. of nearly all the children of the parish were regularly shared; this was monitored by the Children’s Ministry team.
• General Knowledge and Bible Quizzes which needed a day-long study of the relevant book/s of the Bible, by the contestants, were organized twice a week. This generated a lot of informal connectivity with one another.
• Weekly online Housie sessions are being conducted, with many parishioners taking part. • Spot Prizes awarded to various participants ensures a lot of excitement.
• An online Fancy Dress Competition with video broadcast of each competitor’s outfit and an accompanying message. Feedback and comments streamed in from the online audience; about 500 messages flew back and forth for that programme.
All these activities were a collaborative effort, mainly involving the Small Christian Communities, Parish Cells and Associations, the children, the YCW, the Youth, and senior citizens of St Teresa’s, Girgaum, fostered by Fr Anthony and Fr Yesu. This has helped the parish cope well in these very trying circumstances.
Randolph Alexander Rodricks
Member, Parish Pastoral Council
St Teresa Church, Girgaum