Haledon (United States) As the Coronavirus epidemic spreads all over the world, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of St. Joseph Province of the United States and Canada (SEC) respond to the needs of local realities with generosity and creativity.
School activity continues through online platforms such as Google Classroom, Showbie, and Zoom for meetings. The FMA upload lessons, videos, and activities daily to engage students and continue with programs. School principals send frequent video messages to their school communities and schools such as Mary Help of Christians Academy (North Haledon, NJ), organize virtual oratory evenings with live streaming Eucharistic adoration and games to keep young people united in faith. Catechesis and youth center groups keep in touch through messaging and video resources.
All the communities that receive donations of food and other useful goods, share resources with each other and with other religious communities, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor. At the provincial headquarters, the FMA produced hundreds of handmade protective masks and delivered them to local hospitals that have a shortage of supply. Production will continue as long as necessary.
The FMA who are aware of past pupils who serve in the medical sector or those who are at high risk of transmission, the elderly or people who live alone, reach them with prayer and encouragement.
At the provincial level, all the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians join the Institute and the Salesian Family in praying the perpetual Novena to Mary Help of Christians for the end of the pandemic of COVID-19, while the communities that are able to, offer extra hours of Eucharistic adoration daily. Sister Jeanine Landry, delegate of VIDES, and Sister Denise Sickinger, delegate of the Salesian Family, connect by videoconference to pray the Rosary with the members of VIDES and the Groups of the SF.
In many places it is difficult or impossible for the FMA to attend Holy Mass due to diocesan restrictions and the risk of contracting the infection. In some centers, such as St. Anthony School (Hawthorne, NJ), the FMA serve as parochial technicians to give parishioners the opportunity to attend daily Holy Mass ‘live’. The Provincial House offered in streaming, the transmission of the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week for all the Communities through a private video link, thanks to the presence of Fr. Frank Twardzik, Salesian of Don Bosco, who, with the mandate of the Provincial, Fr. Timothy Zak, remained with the FMA throughout Lent and continues during this Easter season to celebrate daily Mass and provide the sacraments.
During Holy Week, the Provincial Sr. Joanne Holloman, accompanied the FMA with a daily thought for the ‘Good Night’ in line with the reflections of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. of the Boston Archdiocese. The Sisters who were able, took this time to make their Spiritual Exercises using these ‘virtual resources’. The ‘Good Nights’ of Sr. Joanne will continue weekly as a resource for the local communities.
To facilitate communication among the FMA, the Provincial asked each Community to create a simple video of the reality they are living to strengthen communion during these difficult times. The ‘extra’ time at home, offers the Communities a precious opportunity to strengthen their ties through faith sharing and other creative and recreational activities.
The hope of the FMA of the SEC Province is that these initiatives and prayers will be an encouragement for the Educating Communities and a source of greater communion among the religious Communities as they await their return to classes and the youth centers.