RIVERSIDE—Turning to their faith in a time of fear and anxiety, a family quarantined at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside amid the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus reached out to the Diocese of for spiritual and sacramental support on Feb. 7.
Church ministers were prohibited from entering the quarantined area to meet this request, but they did the next best thing – they prayed with the family over the phone.
Sister Chilee Okoko, D.M.M.M., led a paraliturgical prayer service with a small group of diocesan employees in a conference room in the Pastoral Center. On the other end of the line was a small but grateful group of Catholics who were in their final day of quarantine at March Air Reserve Base.
“We want to be in solidarity with you in true prayer,” said Sr. Chilee, Director of the Diocesan Department of Life, Dignity and Justice.
The 20-minute “tele-prayer” took place on Feb. 10, the Feast of St. Scholastica. Sr. Chilee led participants in an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be to begin. A Responsorial Psalm was read followed by the day’s Gospel reading. Prayers of Intention were then offered for those quarantined and for God’s intercession and healing during the coronavirus outbreak.
Monsignor Gerard Lopez, S.T.L., Vicar General of the Diocese, closed by offering a Catholic blessing for travelers. The family quarantined at March Air Reserve Base was preparing to return to their home in North Carolina the following day.
“Thank you for taking the time to pray with us,” said one little girl through the speaker phone. “It really means a lot to me and my brother.”
On Feb. 18 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement in response to this health crisis.
“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus. We offer our prayers for healing and support for those organizations, both domestic and international, working to provide medical supplies and assistance to address this serious risk to public health.”