In March 2020, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The two years since then have been full of fear and heartbreak — but there are also reasons to be hopeful.
To mark the anniversary of the shutdown, we teamed up with the University of Chicago to ask faith leaders from across the city to share short sermons reflecting on the pandemic for people of all beliefs.
Below are remarks from South Side Rev. Norman Hernan Moran, pastor of Saint Basil Visitation Catholic Church. Press the “Listen” button to follow along.
Dear friends, when God speaks to us in different forums and circumstances, we are reminded of the wonder of His love and mercy. God is always with us, especially in the most difficult times of our history. I want to invite you to take a second or two and meditate on how God has been present to you during this pandemic. We can’t ignore the significance of all the difficult situations that we have to endure since the beginning of COVID-19, nor can we minimize the challenges of solitude, fear, desperation, job losses, hunger and losing loved ones. Despite all of the sadness and pain, we must recognize and celebrate moments of heroism, encourage moments of sacrifices and dedication, moments of generosity, and friendship. These beautiful moments show that the love of God and the love of neighbors do exist
On the second anniversary of the onset of COVID-19, I asked young people from a church in Englewood on the South Side of Chicago how the pandemic made them feel. A group of Mexican American teenagers that meet every Friday night offered these reflections, and I want to share with you some of them:
“After being locked down, I appreciate more the company of my family and friends.
“I don’t think I was ever going to say this, but I missed school.”
“After feeling a lot of fear, now I am stronger.”
“I thank God for technology and the times that I live in; I don’t know what I would have done without the internet!”
“I realize that there are many problems in the world, and we cannot ignore them.”
“There are many ways to be in contact with people but the most important is to talk face to face.”
“I realized how much my sanity, my loved ones and my freedom have been taken for granted.”
“I definitely have learned to pay attention to the little things in life.”
And when I asked about their spiritual experiences during the pandemic, their answers were both insightful and refreshing to the soul:
“Now I pray for what I didn’t pray before.”
“I have learned to listen more to my parents.”
“I started to read the Bible.”
“Before, we didn’t pray as a family. Now we do.”
“I didn’t like it before, but now I like going to church.”
“I like to help others.”
“In my family, we learned to appreciate each other.”
“I learned more about God.”
“I had time to get to know myself.”
“I saw God in the generosity of people.”
These are beautiful thoughts, and I appreciate their honest and sincere responses. But also I noticed that they avoided talking about their loss, mourning and pain. I encouraged them, as I encourage you, my friends, to talk and express themselves — share their feelings, listen and work toward healing.
On this second anniversary of COVID-19, our respect and gratitude must go to all the essential workers, especially those in the medical field. We offer our prayers for those who are gone, and we express our wishes and hopes and comfort for their families and relatives.
God speaks to us in different forms and fashions. He speaks through the Bible, through a sermon, in a song, through our good friends’ advice and even in the rain. Today,I want to thank God for his love and mercy, and I pray that these words may be from God to you. Peace.
This piece was produced for broadcast by WBEZ’s Adora Namigadde, together with The Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Chicago. Follow them @adorakn and @UChiDivinity.