The Covid19 year of 2020 has certainty left its mark on our Ukrainian community in Australia. The travel restrictions, quarantines, masks, shutdowns, sickness, suffering, deaths, and the promise of a vaccine have all shaped the year we have just survived.
Speaking with people from around the Eparchy, it seems that what they missed the most was the normal community life and included with that the chance to go to church to pray.
In Victoria, our churches were effectively closed for over seven months. In other states in Australia restrictions also existed. Some are still under very strict restrictions.
Our human nature insists that we meet our spiritual and social needs. We have a strong and deep desire to live a strong community life. Covid, very often isolated us, and that for a long period of time.
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Bishop Peter Stasiuk visited the Cathedral, Geelong, and Ardeer parishes during the Christmas season. The parish priests reported that in each of those parishes, it seems that near the maximum allowed numbers attended our Christmas celebrations. Big crowds were also seen on the second and third day of the holidays.
In some parishes in the Eparchy, extra services were scheduled. In Sydney, a midnight liturgy was well attended, despite the fact that the hour was not very family friendly. About 80 people came for the service.
As one parishioner said, “We missed going to church.”
In his address at the various parishes Bishop Peter thanked the parish priests, the parish councils, and the parishioners for supporting the churches during the crisis. Many people donated by direct debit and planned giving. The churches’ expenses were met.
The Bishop also remarked how the use of social media for broadcasting our services “live” was a real blessing. It differed in various parishes, but the use of Facebook and YouTube attracted hundreds of people to worship on-line. This use of the mass media has attracted people from around the world to pray with us. Numbers close to 1000 viewers on Sunday were common throughout. Other parishes saw numbers around 500 each Sunday. Bishop Peter expressed his joy and satisfaction with the hard work of our priests around the Eparchy.
2020 was different and we have all emerged different and better off for the experience. Indeed “God is with us”