The rapid development of the pandemic has caused many problems, and as usual, it has affected the weakest, poorest, neediest and sickest. So, after the initial shock, many institutions started to get involved to help those who found themselves in the difficulties created by COVID-19. The new situation strongly challenged us as followers of St. Francis, who espoused Our Lady Poverty and gave us the example to follow by caring for the poor, sick and abandoned.
Friars of the Province of the Assumption of the BVM in Poland responded to this cry in various ways, both spiritually and in practical, direct action. It is difficult now to present all the initiatives because the situation is very dynamic, and every day we need to find the appropriate way to respond to the cry of the poor in times of pandemic. Each day calls us to give an answer that brings above all the ray of hope that all be well!
Right away, we all offered our spiritual support through personal and community prayer. Every day we pray the rosary together for the victims of COVID-19, for doctors and volunteers. Many fraternities have launched online transmissions not only of the liturgy, of prayer, but also of an educational type, even presenting some possible recipes for cooking while we all stay at home
All this has been done in record time…Just think about organising video cameras, internet and other means necessary for good quality transmissions. Thanks to the collaboration with our friends, members of the SFO, volunteers or other pastoral groups we have been able to connect with many people in their homes and offer them our Franciscan support and presence (even if only in digital form).
Another dimension of help is financial support. We have helped hospitals in Tychy, Cieszyn, Mikołów with our own offerings. We have financially helped the cloistered women’s communities of contemplative life: Sisters of St. Clare, St. Dominic and St. Charles Borromeo. Apart from that, we have sent money for a parish in Ukraine and northern Italy.
We help quarantined priests, and we have also hosted two friars for quarantine in one of our friaries. One of our confreres, Br. Kamil Skibiński from Katowice, serves as a nurse in an old people’s home. Due to the fact of COVID-19 and the strict hygienic procedures, he has to work for a whole week and remain locked up in the nursing home. His service is highly appreciated by both the elderly and the nursing home staff, where the risk of infection is very high
In many friaries, we distribute food for the poor and needy (Tychy, Cieszyn, Katowice, Koszarawa, Kobylin, Gorki Wielkie). There are many cases where we visit convents bringing food and medicine.
One missionary initiative involves Trinidad (Bolivia) where the friars have bought clothing for the protection of the medical service and the fire service.
Br. Mieczysław Wnękowicz from Katowice despite his age (78 years) heard a cry of the poor from prison. So he organised and coordinated a transport full of books for the prisoners. The management of various prisons and reform institutions gratefully welcomed this gesture of sharing and evangelisation in challenging places and in ever more difficult times. (Cover photo)
So that the pandemic continues … we do not stop listening to the cry of the poor and helping the weak, poor, needy and sick.