Living our faith in a pandemic

Cellphones and tripods became the go-to tools for parishes to share their liturgies with parishioners at home. Here, Father Jose Ugalde, priest administrator of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in  Bothell, celebrates a Lenten Mass in an empty church. Cellphones and tripods became the go-to tools for parishes to share their liturgies with parishioners at home. Here, Father Jose Ugalde, priest administrator of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Bothell, celebrates a Lenten Mass in an empty church.

On March 11, Seattle Archbishop Paul D. Etienne became the first bishop in the United States to suspend the public celebration of the Mass in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — an example that would eventually be followed by the rest of the country’s dioceses.

“We do this, not out of fear, but out of love for our neighbors,” the archbishop wrote in a March 24 letter urging Catholics to follow Gov. Jay Inslee‘s ”Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.

The pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, including the way we practice our faith. But it has not stopped the Catholic Church from continuing to carry out Christ’s mission in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Well over 100 parishes and missions around the archdiocese started livestreaming Sunday Masses.

With K–12 schools closed, Catholic schools quickly pivoted to offering instruction at a distance.

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and parish food banks adapted to social distancing guidelines to continue serving people in need in our community.

And priests continued to celebrate the sacraments — including, when possible, bringing the anointing of the sick to those dying from COVID-19.

“This is a historically significant moment — and an opportunity for us to truly live out our faith,” Archbishop Etienne wrote in his March 24 letter.

“I pray that we will look back on this time and be delighted by how people witnessed their love of God and neighbor. I pray that we see courage, kindness, and selfless acts of love that foster community, help the needy, and encourage everyone to grow stronger in their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be Catholic.”

Read the Spanish version of this story.

Northwest Catholic - May 2020