March 12, 2020, PJPS staff & volunteers who were scheduled to attend a 3-day retreat were all excited for the long awaited date with the Lord, which was going to take place somewhere nearer heaven – IF indeed, heaven is above us – at a place 5,200 feet above sea level, in Mirador Jesuit Villa Retreat House in Baguio City.
But everyone’s anticipation was killed by a little known new virus – the Novel Corona Virus, now known as Covid-19 – as the retreat had to be cancelled due to the imposition of “Community Quarantine”. Little did we know back then that this virus was going to kill and continue to kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide thereafter.
Fast forward to June 24, 2020 – people are now living a new normal life – whatever that entails - in an attempt to avoid getting infected by Covid-19 for which there is no known cure or vaccine.
In PJPS, our new normal includes Work From Home arrangement for some employees and “Work and Live in the Office” for some. Thanks to Fr. Eli & Fr. Jun-G for opening their home to our co-workers who live in the Staff House. This is a safer arrangement - for all of them to be quarantined together in one place.
We do not see each other everyday, and our weekly staff meetings have been replaced by occasional Zoom meetings, Messenger chats, and weekly reports submitted via email. But the bond of the team is still very much there, still strong, despite the physical distancing that the virus cruelly forces us to maintain.
It took a while for us to find our footing in this new normal, but find our footing we did! I remember the frustration in the first few days when we could not answer our beneficiaries’ call for help for relief goods. But instead of letting our frustration get the better of us, Fr. Jun-G initiated a daily chain rosary as an indirect way of helping them, while we tried to find ways to attend to their physical needs. The office team, together with some volunteers and a few beneficiaries, takes turns praying the rosary throughout the day for the intentions of PJPS beneficiaries, among others, so that at any given half hour, there is or are people praying the rosary.
Prayers work! No doubt about that. We are closing our fiscal year ending May 31, 2020 about 50% above budget & previous year in terms of revenue/receipts. Donations kept pouring in. Covid-19 may have the power to make people sick and even kill people, but it cannot kill the goodness in people’s hearts.