The pandemic changes everything
We have been fighting the COVID 19 pandemic in Kaliningrad for a long time. Since March 2020 we have a different order in our parish and charity center to support and care for our visitors. For security reasons we unfortunately had to close our ambulance. Only the soup kitchen remained in operation at first.
By: Sister M. Gisela Noky
Help for the homeless and other vulnerable people
There was no curfew until mid-March, so the homeless could come to eat. In the beginning, they were sitting on benches eating the soup and there was a big mess, so we decided to clear the benches away. Everyone got their soup and left the area.
For the other visitors of the soup kitchen (seniors and other needy people) we prepared food packages so that they did not have to come every day. In the beginning three times a week, then every Monday and finally every two weeks. But then the situation got even worse: curfew, everything closed – that’s how we officially closed. Everyone who came was given something to eat on the street. And it is still like that now.
It is difficult to work with such people who do not assess and perceive the danger. We asked again and again to keep our distance, to refrain from shaking hands and hugging – it didn’t help. Some were completely inconsiderate and thought they were disinfected from the inside.
Unfortunately we do not know how everyone is doing. Some are currently abstaining from coming, some are in hospital. Some have also been infected and have died.
Solidarity within the parish
Our parish also lives at a distance. For some, whose need we heard about, we packed food packages to help at least a little bit. For many it is not easy; everything has become expensive and life is more difficult.
Of course there are also people who have helped us and continue to help. A small bakery brought us bread for a while, which we could continue to give. A man from the community went fishing with friends and brought us several fish almost every day, which we used to make families happy. Many parishioners transferred their donation, which they usually put in their basket on Sunday.
Community life online
Since the middle of March, we have also been cultivating a completely different life in our community. “Online” was the new word. Our pastor has been leading an online group for a long time, with which he shares his catechesis. The group includes not only parishioners, but also other interested people. So we had the idea to add other parishioners to this group. Since only 250 people can belong to one group, we now have two groups of 230 people each, who more or less participate in our parish life.
We did not broadcast online services, as they were already broadcast from the Bishop’s Church in Moscow and from the neighboring parish. We chose a different way:
On the respective holidays the pastor and I decorated the church. During the Holy Mass we took photos, audio and short video recordings with the director of our social center who was in quarantine with us. These we then sent to the members of the two groups so that they could relive everything. Short sermons by the pastor and short audio introductions and suggestions on how to celebrate the respective festivals in the house church were also sent in this way. In May we held a short prayer after each Holy Mass, on Sunday with Eucharistic adoration and blessing, which then reached our families online.
In the meantime we started again with public services, but only in small groups, with masks and distance. Families with children and older people still stay at home.
We still do not know how things will continue here and hope that our lives will soon return to normal.