In response to the challenges brought on by COVID-19 the Faith and Ministry Program at Gibbons has come up with ways – some different, others familiar - for our students and educators to live out our school’s mission of faith, service, and leadership in church and community.
Among the ways the program is assisting our community members in safely modeling a faith life is by providing them the
opportunity for weekly Mass in Queen of All Saints Chapel. It also is offering day retreats for students and assisting, whenever possible, in outreach efforts with our school’s partner service agencies.
No easy feat. But given the questions of faith and spirituality these particular times are calling out to all of us, the benefits of reflection, prayer, and service, are tremendous, those involved in the program agree.
“Holy Communion is communion with God first and foremost but also communion with one another. COVID-19 has separated us from this gift and one another,” said Fr. Daniel Oschwald, our school’s chaplain. “To celebrate weekly Mass in our chapel is a reminder of who we are and who we belong to. Our students and educators carry that reality back into the community that is Gibbons.”
Director of Outreach Ministry Gary Meyerl ’82 added that the pandemic has indeed stifled our ability as a school to be in the presence of and serve many of our partner agencies. It does not mean, however, that we are unable to serve or be a people for others, said Meyerl who, as an example, delivered sandwiches to the children and teachers at the Beginning & Beyond Child Development Center, a service partner, on their first day of class in early August.
There are other examples of how Gibbons continues to answer the call to serve. For instance, Meyerl pointed out how new Gibbons educators along with their mentors gathered at our school’s Short Journey Retreat Center in early August for New Educator Orientation, and as part of the day prepared a hot meal for the less fortunate at the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen.
And, he noted, several Gibbons parents regularly volunteer at the soup kitchen each Monday. In doing so they are maintaining the school’s longstanding tradition of staffing the kitchen every Monday throughout the year.
“Times like these call us to be creative, compassionate, and do what we can to promote the ‘common good’ so that no one in our homes, neighborhoods, or school community is socially isolated,” he explained.
Retreats will also be different this year. Gibbons will offer day retreats for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, and Kairos also will be offered as a daylong experience for seniors. The sophomore retreats will have a service component. Tim Yelenic, Crista Anders, and new retreat coordinator Sarah Tennant will lead the retreats.
“We look forward to providing a day of community, faith, service, and reflection to the students,” Yelenic noted. “We’re thrilled that we’ll be able to use Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center as our ‘home away from home’ in a socially distance manner so we can continue to make memories, deepen our faith, and create long-lasting friendships.”