Do you remember that Saturday in March, 2019 when word came that the parish would have to close its doors? Suddenly we could no longer attend Mass, receive the Eucharist, or obtain the graces offered through the sacraments. It was shocking, scary, and surreal. How would we keep our parish family together? How would we accompany people in their faith journey? How would we communicate efficiently and effectively with some 800+ families? How would we continue to practice our Catholic faith, and go out and share the joy of the gospel message of Jesus Christ to our neighbours in Beacon Hill?
If we have learned anything over the last 20 months, it is that Annunciation is blessed with people who are deeply committed to supporting the spiritual and material health of the parish and the wider community. Parishioners have generously shared their time, treasure and expertise that has enabled us to keep moving forward as a community of faith.
In the early days of the pandemic, a team of volunteers made 100’s of phone calls to help clean up our parish database and ensure we could communicate with as many people as possible. Those with the knowledge and skills built critical infrastructure that made things like online Mass and virtual praise and worship evenings possible.
We soon learned that those initial phone calls were a life line to many isolated seniors in our parish. As a result, they were seamlessly taken over by the newly established Ministry for Seniors in the form of Calls of Care. Other ministry leaders reimagined how to safely engage the youngest members of the parish and their families to prepare them to enter into the sacraments and to experience the joy of Vacation Bible School. Our outreach activities took on a new look in the form of the Garden of Hope – deep into the pandemic the garden was a source of beauty and hope for not only parishioners but our neighbours in the community. We were able to beautify our church, both on the inside and on the outside, and in so doing, offer a place where people could experience the beauty of God’s creation.
And that’s the thing, in spite of the lockdowns and restrictions, as a parish we have been able to do meaningful things, things that 20 months before would have been unimaginable – who ever thought we would be doing drive-by confessions and communion, parking lot masses or faith formation via zoom. COVID-19 is making us rethink how we do church and why we do church.
Hopefully you are using this time to think about why those things we feared losing, like the ability to come together as a community to worship as one body in Christ, are so important to you. To think about what Annunciation post-pandemic will be like, what kind of parish you want it to be and how you will participate to make it a reality. We are not done with the pandemic yet, so let’s use this time wisely.
We are an Easter people, rooted in faith, hope and love. We believe Jesus is who he says he is. We hope that one day to be with Him in eternity, and in love, welcome all to come and experience the true joy, peace and happiness that can only be found in Jesus Christ.