No man is an island: Parish services and friendships survive the pandemic
The Jan. 10 letter, “The face-to-face Christmas parties that we needed after the COVID lockdowns,” from Claude Lucas C. Despabiladeras was a pleasure to read as I could very much relate to it for two reasons. First, like him, I belong to the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators (MLC) of my local parish community, the Resurrection of Our Lord Parish (ROLP) in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City. Second, I also relished every moment of my MLC group’s face-to-face Christmas party last December after not having it in 2020 and 2021.
I was elected in the last quarter of 2019 as the MLC coordinator for 2020. My co-officers and I were getting the hang of our officer-ship by March 2020, our third month on the job, when the COVID-19 lockdown started. It completely threw us off our game.
Even the house of God was not spared from the pandemic’s impact as no face-to-face Masses were held for five months, from April to August 2020. It was only in September that year that we lay servers got the green light to serve again (albeit in reduced numbers) at church during the online Masses made possible by our parish’s media ministry, the Multimedia Advocates for Creative Evangelization. Like the rest of the world, parish life had to rely on digital technology, so it could reach out to the Catholic faithful.
Initially, in observance of social distancing, only one MLC member could serve during the Sunday morning Mass to perform the duties of both the commentator and the lector. That was a most unusual experience, serving as the lone reader before an empty church. But serve we did, knowing that we were bringing the Mass online to our parishioners and maybe even to netizens residing outside of our parish.
Our group had been holding our monthly meetings via Zoom during the lockdown, but we were unable to pull off an online Christmas party in December 2020. It was only in December 2021 that we did get to do it. We were satisfied with how it turned out, as it seemed that everyone had fun playing the virtual games that our hardworking and ever-reliable secretary Jelica prepared. But, of course, there’s nothing like being in each other’s company in one venue, just like how we were at our previous pre-pandemic Christmas parties.
Fast forward to December 2022: Gathered in one place, we were all overjoyed to be with each other again to celebrate the holidays as one ministry. Having been deprived of each other’s physical presence for a long period of time, we came in full force that night and got reunited. And so, for about three hours, we conversed with each other, ate together, played games with child-like enthusiasm, took pictures and videos left and right, and laughed out loud just like before. As the party was happening, I was very conscious that I was feeling immensely happy. At one point, amidst the revelry, I sat still in my seat and took it all in; the sight of all my co-members tugged at my heart. Having been involved in the parish since 2012, I have considered my fellow lay servers—especially in the MLC and CWL—to be an important part of my life.
One of the many things that the pandemic has taught me, at this ripe old age of 63, is to cherish the people around me. The expression “No man is an island” rings true to me so much more than it ever has before. At this stage, I truly believe that friendships, more than material wealth, enrich one’s life.
Christine Zita “Jet” Lagura Barrameda
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