Province of St. Albert the Great, USA

Letter to the Province on COVID-19

Dear Brothers,

    “Athirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?”

We have closed the Provincial Office and invited our staff to work remotely this week. We will evaluate this plan on a week-to-week basis. Don, John, and Jimmy, however, will mostly likely be in the office every day. 

What an unusual moment in our lives! Schools are closing for the foreseeable future. The Eucharist is not available, even on Sundays. Meetings have been cancelled and travel is increasingly restricted. 

We presume brothers are taking all necessary precautions and are up to date on the recommendations coming from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Self-care at this time is a moral responsibility, not only for ourselves but for the protection of others. We need to follow guidelines assiduously. We ask our communities to take the steps necessary for the containment of the virus and the protection of our members.

Obviously, our lives will continue to be disrupted for some time to come and sacrifices will surely be demanded of each and every one of us. Frustrating as they may be, our sacrifices will probably not be as great as what is asked of so many others. 

As challenging as these days are already proving to be, this is not a time when we absent ourselves from ministry. Quite the opposite. There are many who need care, to whom hope must be given, for whom fear must be allayed. We ourselves, by our own convictions and attitudes, can witness to fear and anxiety being overcome by love and prayer. Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and so we continue to serve, even in light of the Coronavirus. 

We encourage all our ministries to follow diocesan guidelines at this time as we try to accommodate those whom we serve to the best of our ability. Thank you to those of you who have already shared the creative ways you are reaching-out to your people. Live-streaming Masses and recording our preaching can be a significant way to remain connected to our people. Please continue to share your ideas. They help us all.

Here are a few items being done at the province level:

  • St. Pius Priory has closed itself to outside visitors since it is a vulnerable community with infirm or aging men. The nurse assistant takes the temperature of every member of the community twice a day. So far no one has had the need to be tested.
  • Resurrection Life Center, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Our Mother of Good Counsel Nursing Home in St. Louis are closed to visitors. None of our brothers in these places show signs of having the virus.
  • Jay Harrington will be returning early from his sabbatical in Rome, probably on April 21. When he returns, he will need to self-quarantine for two weeks. We have reserved the house in Galena for him for that purpose.
  • Gilbert Thesing will be returning from Nigeria on a permanent basis as of April 3. We are staying in touch with him. 
  • Raphael Christianson and Vincent Davila are both following the decisions of CUA and Notre Dame, where classes have at least temporarily moved to e-learning. The Fenwick Staff and Faculty are meeting today to finalize their plans.
  • To our knowledge, there is no one in the province, either here in the States or overseas, who has tested positive for the virus.

Here in the Provincial Office, we plan to continue producing the weekly KNOW BEFORE YOU GO preaching, as well as a new daily-recorded offering titled, A WORD OF HOPE. We encourage communities and ministries to keep the province updated with how you are doing. Either send a report yourselves to the listserv or to us and we can pass it on.

Let us continue to pray for each other, brothers, and for all those we serve, trusting that God is with us every step of this strange way.

St. Jude, hold us in your care,