Corona-Virus 19 and Doing Alright (Volume 1)

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Preface

The draft of what has become this booklet on CORONA VIRUS and DOING ALRIGHT brought insightful and encouraging reactions from readers with calls for reaching out to more readers and one person went even to the extent of asking the humbling pro-active question: “What can l do?”
Pondering over these reactions in my personal space in practicing “self-distancing”, they have
become compelling data of my recollection for the social space of practicing social distancing with you out there. Here is my ‘Re-collection‘ of some of the reactions beginning with my take on each person’s text (underlined) followed by the actual words and sentences of same:
a) A call for inward action for gospel social action — “This is not just a wonderful reflection but practical boost to help practicalize the core value in the gospel. I am edified and challenged. Permit me to share with others. Thanks for sharing”

b) A call to broaden the personal and social spaces or wholesome enlightenment — “This is powerful reflection. I hope you are sending it out to be published in one of the dailies around. Thanks… for sharing … I really appreciate the write up”

c) A moment of enlightenment through self-distancing into pro-activity — “A wonderful write up. I just finished reading it. It has opened my eyes to What l should be doing this time. I am grateful that you shared it”

d) An open — ended invitation to like minds to think more in order to do more by the many now
— “Thank you for sharing. It is open piece that can set minds for ongoing reflective-actions in this time”

e) A call for a wholesome self-appropriation to make sense out of this time and to become an agent and benefactor to humanity — “I thank you for inspiring me with your write up. I took time to savour it and recommend it as a wholesome read in this time. Please let me know when/where there is need… “

f) A call to a renewed pastoral re—configuration. at this time. on one of the core gospel  values of ‘Fraternal Charity” – “Thanks for this beautiful insight on the lessons bordering on COVID-19. It is a period of personal and collective soul searching to discover our common threshold. Humanity is once again reminded o fthe need to promote the ‘Common Good’. Of the many people you educated before the lockdown, everybody heard you and followed your instruction but only one person, the gentleman in your write up reminded us that social distancing cannot take away an act of Christian Charity. The world I believe will become more knitted towards seeing ourselves as being created in the image and likeness of God, irrespective of creed, colour; economic and social status. ’We are the world” the famous song of great world artist reminds us once again that giving, no matter how meager; it will make a difference. This is a period for many of our colleagues (priests) to see how important the flocks we feed are in our work and lives because without them we cannot have and if we don’t have we cannot give. My lesson in this period is not to undermine anybody’s generosity no matter how small; the intention itself makes it to multiply as you did with the ‘social distancing gentleman’ who in action was in your heart serving the needy in the parish”

g) In the cacophony of the toxic modern religious agura, faith and hope are restored for humanity — “Thanks for sending. I have just finished reading. Reading through this gives me delight that there are still people in the world who truly deserves to be called men of God.  It gives me hope for humanity.”

Some others called me by phone to tell me orally of their appreciation for the write up. Others still have longed to visit with me but for the sake of the golden rule for social distancing, they have accepted things as they are for now. One colleague from far, far away in Assisi in Italy, made a passionate appeal which I totally identify with: Please tell our people not to be afraid; tell them to keep the stay home and hygiene rules religiously!” He went on to call on government to partner more with credible Religious and Traditional Rulers in order to reach the common people with the much, much needed “Palliatives,” I noted with satisfaction the point he made on trust between the religious leaders/royal fathers and the people. In other words, these reverend leaders who are closer to the grassroots of society” smell their sheep” better more often than not! Now of all times, the philosophy of “UBUNTU” beckons and we cannot re?ise its summons to us all to tighten our loins around our waists to right to contain the burden of the uncertainty of our time.

The above paragraphs are recollections of the great story around the new pastoral initiative in St. Paul’s Parish, West Itam, called; “The Neediest from A Distance Project”.
It came about because of the Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic. The story told is about human experiences. The particular human experience in this little book will fascinate and inspire you because it turns the so called “Social Distancing” into relationship of solidarity, collaboration, togetherness, human dignity and oneness in the wholeness of God-in-Christ. I wish you a rewarding time with CORONA- VIRUS 19 and Doing Alright!

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Michael Otto Ekpenyong is a Catholic Priest who holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy and Doctorate Degree in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University Pittsburg, U.S.A. At the Catholic Secretariate of Nigeria, he served at the Secretary General for a couple of years. In September 2012, he was appointed Papal Chamberline (Chaplain to the Holy Father) by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. He is the author of Story telling Imagination and God-Talk (2002) and Beware of gods (2005), The John and the Paul in John Paul II (2010) and much more which can be accessed here.

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