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s2smodern

For the Moscow Jesuits, celebrating Mass in English in St. Louis Church in Moscow (right in front of the KGB building) every Sunday used to be a little bit like a "hobby", until covid-19 came into our lives. The pandemic has affected many, but migrant workers (predominantly from the Philippines) have been hit harder than others. They find it hard to avoid infection, since they have to move around a lot. They live together in big groups, where all get sick as soon as one catches the virus. Besides, getting sick is worse if you are far from your family and do not understand the local language. 

Add to this the fear for your family and the fact that you cannot visit them and, due to quarantine protocols, you cannot even arrive in time for the funeral if a close relative passes away.

One thing has also completely changed: If people got sick, say, from cancer, before the pandemic, they would go to a doctor, find out about their situation and go home soon. Now, they postpone going to a doctor, they find out when it is late and they cannot travel.

The situation is similar for foreign students in Russia, most of them from all over Africa. Maybe, the risk of an infection is lower for them, but they are strictly isolated, all classes take place only online.

So, the Moscow Jesuits (for the time being, Fr. Sebastián Prieto Silva, Fr. Stephan Lipke, Br. Vladimir Pashkov) recognized their responsibility. Prayer and conversation online, visits, and a safe celebration of the Eucharist have become crucial. There are less people in the church now but the connection is closer and they started helping each other more. Of course, sometimes the pandemic also causes fear and aggression, and yet, this is a special time to "love and serve" in a context where covid-19 keeps causing a lot of harm.

 

Stephan Lipke S.J.

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s2smodern