Covid-19 has impacted Providence Catholic High School and its students, faculty, and staff immensely. When we transferred to e-learning last semester, obviously no one expected to return to school in this way. During this time, many Celtics wondered how their faith would be impacted. Luckily, the Pastoral Department helped by having our “Dear God…Love Me” prayers available on a podcast with students being able to record and safely submit their voice memo prayers. Additionally, Masses were available online, and the members of the Pastoral Department were only one email or Teams meeting away.
This raises the question about what differences would be displayed during the 2020-2021 school year. With everyone wearing masks and enforcing social distance, it is difficult to be able to do our beloved Masses and all-school prayer. We have already seen changes with our Kairos retreat, which will be co-ed and held over 3-day weekends here at Providence. I interviewed Mrs. Persicketti, Associate Director of the Pastoral Department, and Fr. Merk, President, to learn more.
Q: What religious differences did Celtics observe when Providence went remote in March 2020 to the end of the school year? (ex. livestreaming Masses, hygienic precautions, etc.)
A: There really aren’t any religious differences, it’s just a matter of the way we connected with the Providence Family. Instead of ‘live’ prayer, students were able to record it and then it was sent via text to all current faculty, staff and students. It was also posted on our website. Masses were recorded and posted on YouTube. We still celebrated our Baccalaureate Mass and Mother’s Day Mass. This year we even celebrated a Father’s Day Mass. The Augustinian Friars continue to celebrate a weekly Mass for the community that is posted on YouTube
Q: Is this different to precautions the Pastoral Department takes now? If so, how?
A: The Pastoral Office follows the guidelines of the Diocese of Joliet. Communion is currently being distributed by faculty and staff in the classrooms. Everyone who would like to receive communion is able to sanitize their hands before they receive the Eucharist. The Eucharistic Ministers move from person to person in the classroom to distribute Communion.
Q: What do you foresee Providence Masses will be like this school year?
A: We started out with a recorded Mass and will take steps to get to a live stream. There is a lot of technology and prep that goes into doing this. Not to mention figuring out ways to play some of our favorite Mass songs that follow copyright laws and licensing.
Q: On New Celtic Welcome Day, the new Celtics, volunteers, faculty, and staff were able to hold 3 different Masses on campus outside. Do you think this is a possibility for people to have Masses in small groups this year instead of all-school Masses?
A: That is our ultimate goal! We would love to be able to live stream and have a small group of students who would be in-person at the Mass. We are working on a plan as we speak!
Q: What technologies have the Pastoral Dept. used? Do you think that when things return to “normal” any of these will carry over?
A: We have used Teams for training students for the New Celtic Welcome, recordings have been posted to YouTube. Just to be safe, we are still having students record their All-School Prayer, but it is played over the PA, just a minor adjustment from our regular routine. This may be one of the things we keep. There has been such a willingness to write an all-school prayer. I think recording it ahead of time takes away some of the pressure of doing it “live”.
Q: Do you have any advice, inspiring words, or ideas to keep Celtics close to God and their faith during this time?
A: Your relationship with God depends on you! No one can take your faith away, it is within you. Have regular conversations with God and take some quiet time, you will feel His presence!