Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Charlotte, NC, is one busy place. When I arrived, it was easy to adjust to the parishioners and my fellow Vincentians, Frs. Leo, Gregory, and Hugo.
I served various parish groups, gave talks, and visited the sick. It was well organized and enriched my pastoral experience. Shortly after I arrived, everything shut down due to COVID-19. All activities were canceled; it was hard to see the parish go into silent mode. On weekends, five-thousand people attend Mass; hundreds attend first communion and confirmation classes. It was sad to see the parish go from very busy to almost desolate.
At the start of the shutdown, my Vincentian confreres prayed and discussed what they should be doing, and by their openness to the Holy Spirit, they were inspired to be creative. They found amazing ways to serve the people and made sure that I was involved with them in every activity, from taking the Blessed Sacrament to various neighborhoods (including mobile home parks) to “drive-thru Communion.” Though the church was quiet, the priests worked harder than ever. They were an example of how to give oneself fully to the mission, showing me a true Vincentian never stops, even when there is a pandemic.