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Giving thanks for new ‘normal’

Opinion

There is no doubt we are living in unprecedented times, where the new ‘normal’ encompasses social distancing, hand washing and Zoom meetings, not to mention the need to get tested as soon as you have a sniffle.

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It seems like an eternity since we started writing about the coronavirus pandemic in The
Southern
Cross
and over the past few months I’ve used the terms ‘uncertain’, ‘difficult’ and ‘challenging’ more times than I care to mention.

Our conversations in the workplace and at home are now also smattered with references to COVID-19.

Indeed, as much as I try not to, whether I am pounding the pavement with my running group, chatting around the dinner table with family or enjoying the company of friends, the talk at some point invariably touches on coronavirus. Whether it is the latest case figures, what new restrictions have been introduced, which countries overseas are struggling, or the latest developments with a vaccine – there are so many aspects and angles to cover, and so many different points of view and misinformation to digest.

As I have found in recent months discussing the pandemic can be exhausting, distressing, stressful and in some instances, frightening. There is no question your mental wellbeing is affected, and if you are unlucky enough to be afflicted with the virus, that opens a whole different range of physical issues.

So how do we move forward, with the knowledge that things will probably not return to ‘normal’ until a vaccine is found?

In this issue of The Southern Cross there are some wonderful stories of how parish communities are coping and continuing to connect, despite the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Some initiatives have started at the grassroots level and been spearheaded by individuals determined to keep parishioners who are feeling isolated in touch with the community, while other programs have been introduced by parish leadership to ensure faith needs continue to be nurtured.

For example, Isabel Storer took it upon herself to set up Zoom coffee gatherings after the live stream of Sunday Mass, as well as producing a weekly newsletter – both initiatives which have been warmly received by the St Mary’s community in North Adelaide.

At Blackwood, parishioners have been receiving regular phone calls and letter box drops to keep them connected. This month many of them have spoken of their joy at now being back worshipping together – although a ‘noodle distance’ apart.

Long term volunteers at Vinnies stores are also grateful that the doors are back open and they are able to serve the community.

While looking different this year and delayed by four months, the Chrism Mass in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral was also a sign religious celebrations in the Archdiocese are getting back to some type of ‘normal’.

However, probably the most inspiring story about the impact of the pandemic comes from ‘miracle man’ Paul Faraguna who contracted COVID-19 on the Ruby Princess.

His life and death struggle with the virus and the importance of his Catholic faith provide a timely reminder of why we should give thanks and not complain about the new ‘normal’.

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