By Deacon Mark Castanier

We are approaching three months of lockdown due to the pandemic. Did we all think it would be this long? I remember at the start of the lockdown hoping we would be celebrating Mass together on Pentecost Sunday. I am truly sad we won’t be together because I miss seeing all of you each weekend at Church and celebrating the sacraments together.

As a Deacon, I struggle that I am unable to serve, but I understand the greater good is to continue isolating and practice social distancing. Even now when we shop, we wear a mask in order to protect others and ourselves.

On March 14, Sue and I were at St. Michael’s Parish with four other couples finishing their last Retrouvaille Post Session. When we came down the stairs we met Fr. Murray, the Pastor from St. Michael’s, who told us the church was closed and all Masses were being cancelled that weekend. We had no idea the scope of the pandemic and how it would impact so many people, especially those who were in long-term care.

I am thankful for Fr. John and Fr. Pedro for the live-streamed Masses each weekend since the lockdown. It was a unique opportunity to be able to celebrate Holy Week and Easter Sunday celebrations, but I truly did miss seeing each one of you at these special celebrations. Our presence together at Mass is truly missed.

My minister of charity as a Deacon is Retrouvaille, which helps troubled marriages. In the last few weeks we had to make some challenging decisions. Our next weekend for Retrouvaille London / St. Thomas was scheduled for August 28-30. When we started to look at the logistics of the retreat centre, we realized how many challenges there would be. How do we register couples safely as they arrive for the weekend? How do we put fifteen couples plus the presenting team in a crowded conference room? How do we serve meals safely? How can couples share bathrooms safely? After much discussion from the administration team we decided to cancel the weekend even though we had five couples registered. We have since moved these five couples to a weekend in October that the Hamilton Retrouvaille Community is hosting. Please pray for these couples that are waiting for their upcoming weekend. We are supporting these couples in prayer and communication until they have their weekend experience.

I am aware of the front line workers who risk their lives each day as they go to work. We have a number of nurses in our neighbourhood who work in the local hospitals. Talking to them you can see the stress and concern in their voices. They appreciate the support and concern we have for them and they appreciate someone to listen to as they express their worries and risks they take each day.

Sue and I both miss seeing our elderly mothers and our grandchildren. We finally drove to Windsor and visited them both while practicing social distancing. We have also seen the grandchildren twice this past month and we either window visit or visit outside with precautions.

We all look forward one day to gather together as a community. When that will occur, we don’t know at this time. There will be many changes as to how we gather and celebrate the sacraments. So please continue to isolate yourself and practice social distancing If you do need to go out, please wear a mask.

Peace and Blessings to all of you.