In March, when it had already become clear that the novel coronavirus would not be “just like the common cold”, the world around us changed quickly. Businesses closed their doors, stores ran out of toilet paper, those cute “ça va bien aller” rainbows appeared on windows and the government began their daily press briefings to update everyone on the spread of the virus. At St. Michael’s we decided early on to cancel all our in-person activities. Even though the decision was the only right one, it forced us to ask ourselves a big question: because a church is not a building but a family called to proclaim God’s grace, to grow together in loving our neighbours and to strengthen the bonds of community, how could we be true to this calling in the new situation. The core of our action plan formed quickly: we would take our worshipping online and increase our activity on social media. The idea of St. Michael’s COV-AID - a campaign with which our church council made a commitment to donate a total of 6000 dollars to support our neighbours who are most vulnerable in this pandemic - was brought up at the same time.
Now that we have made the last St. Michael’s COV-AID donation, it’s time for some reflection and to ask what did we learn from this campaign. This blogpost is largely based on the thoughts of our council chairperson Samuli, whose comments are marked in this post in cursive.
During the St. Michael’s COV-AID campaign our church supported low-income seniors, those experiencing homelessness, frontline workers, hospitalized coronavirus patients, and low-income families of NDG through the local foodbank and youth centre. Where did the idea for this campaign come from?
- We felt that, in a world turned upside down by the coronavirus, there are a lot of people who have been strongly affected by this situation, people who are struggling with problems related to their physical or mental health, or their finances. In addition to that, many people working in the frontlines have had a tough time. At the end of the day the decision to help was very easy. The thought of us having a chance to help, felt good and right.
The donations we have made during this campaign have supported those who need it the most. Still, it might be that we ended up getting more than we gave because we got to learn more about the wonderful work so many organizations do to help those who are most vulnerable amongst us. What do you think has been the best part of this campaign?
– The best part has definitely been the positive feedback we’ve gotten from everyone we have been able to help. That feeling that our campaign has actually made a difference. Thanks to this campaign there’s a stronger sense of togetherness between our church and the hospitals and organizations in our community. In a way their activities are similar to ours as they, too, help those in need and care for the people who need it the most. The sense of community grew stronger and I hope it continues to develop further and leads to more opportunities to work together with the different organizations in our area. Personally, I learned that we have a lot of communities and people in our neighbourhood who work tirelessly to help those in need others without expecting to gain anything for themselves. I hope that we have been able to share that workload and show our support to those people. Hopefully our donations help many to carry on, trusting in the fact that there are people in this world who are ready to share their burdens. I also hope that, with the help of this campaign, our congregation would continue to keep our vulnerable neighbours in mind and keep up the work to help them.
Keeping all of this in mind it probably isn’t a huge stretch to say that the St. Michael’s COV-AID campaign has brought a lot of joy to us even in the midst of uncertainty. How are you feeling now that the campaign has ended and the last donation has been made?
– My feelings are mixed. On one hand, this marks the end of one chapter, but on the other hand, I’m feeling good and grateful for all the hard work the people in our congregation have done to make this campaign possible. We already have some thoughts about continuing to do more for those who are most vulnerable amongst us in this acute situation, so it might be that this wasn’t all we have to give. Our congregation can give a platform to people who have the will and time to do good.
It has been great to see how many people are willing to help others especially when the whole world suddenly turns upside down. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is a horrible thing none of us wished for, but it has also brought people closer together in many ways even if in-person interactions have been nearly non-existent. Maybe this situation has been, in many ways, a necessary reminder of the core values of life. People have had to think things differently, and ask whether our current way of living - the one preceding the pandemic, that is - is sustainable and what are the things that are actually important in life. All of us on this Earth share this planet and I hope that the silver lining in this COVID-19 cloud is that, in the future, we could be more considerate when it comes to the environment, our way of living, or our neighbours near and far.
We want to thank all the organizations who have helped with St. Michael’s COV-AID and everyone who have, in one way or another, supported their important work. Even though this campaign has now come to an end, every single one of these organizations as well as our most vulnerable sisters and brothers continue to need our support and prayers. More info on St. Michael’s COV-AID, how our donations have helped our neighbours and how you can make your own donation can be found by clicking these links:
Announcing the campaign
The Old Brewery Mission
Héro Project at JGH
Loyola Youth Centre
The MUHC Foundation
NDG Senior Citizens’ Council
And, as always, stay safe, stay healthy, love your neighbour!