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Shepherding the congregation during the coronavirus pandemic

Holy Week begins with several changes in place

Sunday begins the start of Holy Week, a special time in Christianity that typically attracts the biggest crowds of the year to churches around the world.

That will look much different this year due to COVID-19.

Monsignor Kevin C. McCoy, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish of Webster County, has not been able to celebrate Mass with a congregation since the middle of March. While technology has allowed for livestreaming, it has forced plenty of changes to be made.

“It means that our liturgical celebrations for Palm Sunday and Holy Week will not be accessible to the general public,” McCoy said. “Sadly, limiting these services to the minimal number of clergy and ministers — lector, cantor and accompanist — so as to keep the group under 10 people, this results in our postponing the baptism and/or reception of new members into the church at Easter.

“This is equally true for newborns, as most families opt to delay the sacrament until such time as larger family gatherings are allowed. The same can be said for First Holy Communion (originally scheduled for April 26) and Confirmation (originally scheduled for May 3); these will have to be rescheduled to a later date.”

McCoy noted that that “our pastoral team scrambled to ramp up these technological solutions to help gather the flock to aid our parish in their prayer,” adding that others have also taken to helping with providing more ways to celebrate this time of year.

“Of course, the pastoral team, clergy, parishioners, along with St. Edmond teachers and students have created various livestream devotionals that are uploaded to YouTube to promote prayer opportunities for families in their homes,” he said. “Some of these devotionals include: the Rosary, the Divine Chaplet of Mercy, the Stations of the Cross and a number of other prayer resources available on our Holy Trinity parish website (www.holytrinitywci.org) and our various social media platforms, particularly, Facebook (HolyTrinityWC).

“The social distancing has not prevented us from hosting various prayer, study and governance gatherings; they are just done in a different fashion. Utilizing video conferencing, such as Zoom and other such platforms, meetings are held, ideas shared, prayers are lifted up to the Lord. The virtual reality cannot bring people to share in the true Body and Blood of the Lord as they would at Mass, but they share in a spiritual communion until such time as we can gather safely as a parish family.”

Changes have also been made to social outreach programs and the Holy Trinity Food Pantry operated out of the Corpus Christi Center, along with the cancellation of various parish-based social events.

Despite all that, McCoy continues to keep his faith strong.

“Even in the face of these uncertainties and unknowns, we trust in the Lord and rejoice in our coming celebration of His triumph over sin and death through His resurrection,” he said. “Happy Easter.”

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