“Take Courage!” St. Michael’s response to COVID-19

Posted 2020-03-23 by St. Michael's Communications

Editor’s note: this is a May 2020 article that references Fr. John Nemanic as St. Michael’s pastor. As of Aug. 1, 2020, Fr. John is no longer at St. Michael’s.

“Take Courage! It is I, do not be afraid.” (Mt. 14:27)

St. Michael’s response to COVID-19

Monday, March 23, 2020

This passage comes from Mt 14:22-33. After feeding the 5,000 (Mt 14:13-21), Jesus sends his disciples away in a boat while he prays alone.  As the boat drifts in a windstorm, Jesus walks on the water towards them.  They see him in the night’s fourth watch (i.e. 3 AM), presumably only by moonlight or a lightning strike.  No wonder they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.

Jesus then says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter, emboldened by the Lord’s words, wants to join him by walking on the water himself and Jesus says “Come.”  However, once Peter takes his eyes off Jesus because of the wind’s strength, he begins to sink and cries out, “Lord, save me!”  Despite his lament about Peter’s lack of faith, Jesus got into the boat and the wind ceased.  Those in the boat then worshipped him saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Even those who spent 3 years with Jesus encountered storms with him, but the storms ultimately led to salvation and worship. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us are afraid…and that’s OK: it’s a natural response to a great danger.  However, the question becomes: where are we going to find salvation? Only in Jesus can we find salvation. So long as we, his Body the Church, keep our eyes on Jesus, we will be saved ourselves and, in turn, save others.

I send this short note to let you all know what steps I’m taking to ensure that the Lord’s salvation (Latin: salus: health or safety) continues to permeate in the midst of our COVID-19 storm. Please follow our COVID-19 update page to find out the latest news.

  • Physical health:
    • St Michael’s is heeding the Diocese of Calgary’s mandate to minimize the spread of COVID-19 virus by cancelling all public liturgies, including Mass.
  • Spiritual health:
    • House of Prayer: even though we cannot celebrate the Eucharist as an entire community, please know that the church is here for you and we are not closing our doors. The church is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and you can come for private and personal prayer in the Blessed Sacrament chapel (please use the south entrance doors). The areas in use are regularly sanitized, while the parish staff are taking measures to limit the number of visitors to 50 people at any one time.
    • Confession and Counsel: Fr. Pilmaiken and I are available by appointment or from Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for confessions or for counsel.
    • Prayer Intentions: Fr. Pilmaiken and I will celebrate a private Mass each day.  Please submit your personal intentions at prayer@saintmichael.ca and we will bring them to the daily Mass.
  • Financial health: 
    • COVID-19’s economic impact is negatively effecting our parish donations. In consultation with Michael McGee, the parish’s finance Council chair, and Suzy Moutinho, the parish’s Director of Operations, I’ve taken steps to ensure our parish community’s short-term fiscal viability:
      • Advancing anticipated summer church maintenance and repairs to utilize our current staff
      • Cutting expenses and adjusting our 2020 budget accordingly
      • Anticipating the finance council’s mid-April financial update to keep you abreast of our current situation
    • If you’re able to financially contribute, you’re welcome to make an online donation towards St Michael’s general needs, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, or the diocesan charitable appeal Together in Action that supports a number of local, provincial, national and international charities. Large or small, your generous financial donations go a long way to alleviate the fears of many. Thank you for supporting St Michael’s in this time of great need!
  • Community health:
    • The social distancing that is reducing COVID-19’s transmission rates is creating the unintended consequence of social isolation and harming mental health. Here are some first initiatives to respond to our community’s health:
      • The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is in immediate need of volunteers to deliver food hampers and/or meet with clients.  If you can help please contact ssvp@saintmichael.ca or 403-249-0423 ext. 122.
      • If you would like to stay connected with other parishioners and offer assistance (i.e. offering to pick up groceries for those in physical isolation, etc.), join our public Facebook group.
      • I’ve formed an outreach committee that is looking at how we can mobilize our volunteers to support the city’s wider needs through engagement with other community agencies to see where we can help, while maintaining our volunteers’ health and safety.
        • In anticipation of the rollout, if you are able to volunteer your services or know others who could, please register securely here. The committee will then reach out to you later this week.

What havoc the COVID-19 storm is creating! However, it’s not the first storm that Jesus’ followers ever encountered. As the story in Mt. 14:22-33 notes, the wind storm created a time of fear, but it was an opportunity to encounter the miraculous (walking on water), to worship and to acclaim Jesus as the Son of God. So, let us remind ourselves that Jesus is with us during this COVID-19 storm, keep our eyes on him and heed his words: “Take courage it is I, do not be afraid.”

In Christ,

Fr John Nemanic
Former Pastor



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