Lent in the Era of Social Isolation

With the rapidly developing news of the coronavirus outbreak and the many and changing ways our nation, our Church, and our university have responded to the threat it poses, it can be easy to forget that we are in a special season in the Church year. In the blink of an eye, my social media feed went from “Tips for Fasting during Lent” to “Tips to Surviving Quarantine.” My campus ministry planning went from “how can I help my students grow in their prayer life” to “when will I actually see my students again?”

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An important message from Deacon Matt

Dear Campus Ministry family,

Suffice to say, things have been changing rapidly as our country, our campus, and our Church have taken steps to ensure the safety of our community in response to the Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic. Western Carolina University, like many other schools, has closed residential halls and transitioned to remote instruction for the rest of the semester. The Diocese of Charlotte, like many other dioceses, has suspended the celebration of all public Masses in compliance with CDC recommendations limiting gatherings to ten people or less. The diocese has also instructed all parishes, ministries and organizations to cancel any gathering of more than ten people. This is in effect at least until Holy Thursday (April 9). A decision will be made about Masses and activities for Holy Week and beyond closer to the time based on how things progress.

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Christ the Life-Giving Spring

3rd Sunday of Lent (A)

The gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent tells of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. This is one of the richest and most beautiful passages in all of scripture. There is so much spiritual wisdom to mine in this passage, but I focus in this week’s reflection on one aspect — that of Christ as the living water, a life-giving spring that never runs dry.

Spring Break Extended due to concerns over Coronavirus

Yesterday WCU announced that it is extending Spring Break by one week, with classes resuming on March 23. This is to give professors time to transition as much as possible to online classes for the remainder of the semester. Campus is remaining open, with gatherings of over 100 people being cancelled.

In light of this announcement, we will not be holding any campus ministry events next week during the extended break period: this includes Mass on campus this Sunday. (Our normal policy is that there are no campus Masses during breaks). Our next campus Mass will be Sunday, March 22. We will resume our normal campus ministry schedule at that time.

If any student needs a way to get to Mass this Sunday at St. Mary’s please let us know (posting in our Facebook Group is the easiest way to find a ride). Masses are Saturday night at 7pm (Spanish) and Sunday morning at 8:30 and 11:30 (both in English).

I will primarily be working from home next week during the extended break, but I will make myself available to any student who needs to meet with me.

A reminder that illness is a legitimate reason to not come to Mass (or any other gathering). This applies not only to coronavirus but any other serious and/or communicable disease. If you are not feeling well, stay home and rest.

Please join us in praying for all those affected by illness during this time, as well as those who care for them, that God grant them healing, strength, comfort and peace.

In Christ,
Deacon Matt