Father David Beaubien, pastor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Leonardtown, Maryland, says that since public celebration of Masses have been temporarily suspended because of quarantine measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, he hopes his parishioners will have a greater appreciation for the opportunity to attend Mass.

“I've been reflecting on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Mass and the importance of the people's real presence at worship,” Father Beaubien said. “The two 'presences' go together in order to live the authentic Christian life. The Real Presence of Jesus consists not just in receiving him in Holy Communion, but in the people's joining together as the Body of Christ with the ordained minister at the altar... My hope is that our people will come back to Mass with a renewed appreciation of their ministerial role in baptismal priesthood.”

The priest said that since the pandemic has virtually halted all types of gatherings, his parish continues its mission “with online prayer sessions, book study, pastoral and finance council meetings, livestreaming Sunday Mass, and Flocknote audio and written communications with parishioners.”

“To say the least, my priestly ministry has been severely restricted,” he said. “We're reaching out to parishioners by phone calls to express our prayers and hear any of their concerns. We're finding that many land lines have been discontinued and that a significant number of older parishioners do not have online access, except, one would imagine, through their mobile phones.”

He added that “many of the parishioners are working from home. Others and those who are retired are making do for now. No reports have come in about parishioners suffering from the virus.”

Father Beaubien noted that his parish had to cut back on staff hour and furlough some parish helpers “until the Paycheck Protection Program came into play.”

The Paycheck Protection Program is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and helps small businesses keep their workers on the payroll. Loans will be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and if the money is used only for payroll, rent or mortgage or utilities.

The priest said at Father Andrew White SJ School, “teachers continue to be actively engaged in the distance learning process. “

Father Beaubien noted that the shelter in place order has provided him with the opportunity to pursue studies that he previously did not have time in which to engage.

“Prior to the outbreak, I was looking forward to taking a personal retreat in June. That seems now not to be necessary, since I've had a lot of time on my hands to read, study and pray, though I wouldn't mind getting a change of scenery,” he said. “There have been some areas of study that I have not been able to pursue on a consistent basis and come back around to every couple of years, which I've been able to do now that there is a lull in the work routine.”