TOROK: The Holy Spirit’s presence during COVID-19

May 26, 2020

On Easter Sunday, our parish held an Easter parade to greet and honor our priests for all they have done during COVID 19. They worked hard to keep us connected to God while missing the physical presence of our incarnate faith. A long winding line of cars formed around our Church parking lot as families waited for the opportunity to drive up and wave at our priests.

There was a visible, felt presence of the Holy Spirit among us. Adults were excited, but the young people were over the top with gestures and preparations. The young people decorated their parents’ cars with streamers and posters, wore bunny ears, and held balloons to greet our priests.

This youthful vigor is what Pope Francis writes about in his synodal exhortation Christus Vivit (#139): A young person stands on two feet as adults do, but unlike adults, whose feet are parallel, he always has one foot forward… ready to spring ahead. To talk about young people is to speak of promise and …joy.

During COVID 19, young people have leaped into offering random acts of kindness. The following are responses from youth who were asked: What random acts of kindness have you done during this pandemic that made you feel the presence of the Spirit working through you?

Sarah Doggett of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Needville said, “I am the head altar server, and normally we have a beautiful Easter Mass, but this Easter, the church was empty. My little sister and I decided to do something special for our church. We drew crosses and “He Is Risen” in large block letters with chalk on the sidewalk. I did not want people to forget that although churches are empty, so is the grave, and that is something we must not forget.”

John Paul Ellwanger of St. Mary Catholic Church in Plantersville said, “During this time of disease and hardship, I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me toward a project for a nursing home. Since the elderly are not allowed to be visited, I got a group of people to help me write 85 encouraging, faith-filled letters. I also streamed a talk to 10 young high schoolers about not being afraid and putting their full trust in God’s plan for each one of us.”

Danika Zubizarreta of St. John Vianney Catholic Church said, “While this time has been stressful, I believe that God is giving us this time to stop and breathe so we can see what truly matters: our relationship with our families and God. I felt the Spirit while helping and praying with my family, talking with friends who were feeling anxiety, and connecting with my youth ministry program. We must stay strong in prayer and ask for mercy because God is in control and He is good! God thirsts for us, so He will protect us!”

Morgan McGhee of Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church said, “I have been writing letters to some kids in New Mexico that I met on a mission trip to make sure they are okay and to give them someone to talk to because they have no other means of communication. Also, I have been praying the Rosary every day for our world, and I have really found the Holy Spirit while praying.”

Jayla Harrison of St. Mary of the Purification said, “During this pandemic, I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit while helping others: I have cooked a lot more so my mom could have more time to relax and do her job. I have also prayed for the healthcare/essential workers, and for people that don’t have what I may have during this difficult time.”

Isabella Cabrera of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church said, “I led my family in a Bible study. We talked about how we are dealing with COVID-19 and how it affects the world. We realized we need to come together during this hard time to thank God for the things we have. I felt the Holy Spirit as I talked; my grandma said she could feel it too. I think we really needed it through a time like this.

These young witnesses of faith show us three certainties during this pandemic: One, the Holy Spirit initiates our good works and makes His presence known to us; two, family is of utmost importance; and three, Christ sends his Spirit to reward us with a virtue of gratitude, showing us all he has given us.

Come Holy Spirit, Come.

Norma Torok is an associate director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.