Nik Chupkin | The Roundtable
Since Gov. Gavin Newsom limited the number of people allowed to gather indoors in March 2020, schools have been struggling to bring communities together.
Theology faculty and community leaders are looking to make up the time lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have all experienced a drastic change in the quality of our togetherness during the pandemic,” LIFE Coordinator Bryan Lorentz said. “As a School of the Sacred Heart, we are committed to building community as a Christian value, which is the fourth tenet from our Goals and Criteria.”
Weekly chapels are now taking place via Zoom every Wednesday after Advisory. Community LIFE leaders say that the transition to a virtual atmosphere has not stopped engagement during Chapel.
“As such a tight-knit school community, I think that the inability to join together in person has been difficult,” Community LIFE Representative Owen Akel said. “Though I think the fact that we are receiving such great participation in virtual Chapels shows how our community bonds are hard to separate.”
In addition to taking place over Zoom, Chapel has been reduced to 15 minutes following Advisory.
“Because of time delays and the limits of Zoom tech Chapel gatherings, we are not able to sing together in the ways we used to in-person,” Lorentz said. “We have made the best of it though, and nothing can keep us from spending time gathering as a school each week to pray for the needs of the world, inspiring each other with stories of celebration, struggle and triumph.”
Chapel leaders say that engaging can be as easy as turning the computer camera on.
“Assessing how actively engaged students are with their faith in the virtual setting of Chapel has been difficult,” Akel said. “Engagement is so important because in times such as the global pandemic, maintaining a consistent social fiber is essential. Whether it’s weaker or stronger than the community we had in person, all that matters is that it is there.”
Students who regularly attended Mass prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and actively practice their faith say that the inability to join together has been difficult for them and their families.
“As an active Catholic, not being able to join my parish community has been very hard,” senior D’angelo Flores said. “I have been working on maintaining my relationship with God and faith during the pandemic through other ways such as prayer and service.”
LIFE administrators say that they have been working towards creating different ways to join together in a religious setting.
“Our goal as a school is to be even more present to the needs of our community as we move through the seasons,” Lorentz said. “We honor and always strive to be more inclusive of the rich cultural and religious heritage of our students, faculty and staff represented in our community.”
Religious leaders within the school community say that although community time has been limited, the deep-rooted faith traditions in our Sacred Heart Community are still very visible.
“This is the most important time to lean on each other, reach out to friends and family and faculty and staff to receive support,” Lorentz said. “Despite the limitations and changes in the quality of our togetherness, we have not lost our experience of kinship.”