COVID – 19 Experiences Shared by the Oblate Lay Associates

Some members from the different Units of MAMI (Missionary Associates of Mary Immaculate) of Jaffna Province, Sri Lanka shared their experiences during the nationwide curfew that was imposed to combat the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in Sri Lanka.

The Oblates have 12 MAMI Units in the two dioceses of Jaffna and Mannar. In the diocese of Jaffna, there are 6 MAMI Units viz., Jaffna Cathedral, Valanpuram,  Mandathivu, Mathagal, Illavalai and Kopay. In the diocese of Mannar another 6 Units, viz., Mannar Cathedral, Pesalai, Arripputhurai, Elluthoor, Thalvupadhu and Komarasangkulam.     

1. Mrs. Lalitha Moraes, MAMI Secretary – Mannar Diocese

I take to my heart to finish reading the Bible fully during this quarantine period . I feel like coming closer to God and start reflecting the prevalent situation in the light of Word of God. It is the family members who request me first to pray every day. We light candle, keep incense and continue our prayer. This gives me the feeling of the presence of God in our house. It is true that we were not involved very much spiritually before this pandemic; now we are awakened to a new atmosphere of service and communion. We become more spiritual, and charitable.

Besides the spiritual activities,  I spend time in my garden. Now, we begin to see the beauty of flowering and the plants.

2. Mr. Athonipillai John Pragash, MAMI Secretary – Jaffna Diocese:

In the beginning we didn’t feel the gravity of this Virus. When we felt that it was really a struggle, then, prayer became a beautiful means to overcome our struggle. The Rosary was the prime source for us. We were very happy that our prayer and meals brought us together as one family. Since Fr. Surenthirarajah, OMI sends us the Liturgy of the Hours in Tamil we were able to pray with the whole Church. On Good Friday the Way of the Cross was conducted for the first time at home. We felt it so meaningful. The nearby members also accompanied us during the Way of the Cross. We didn’t show interest to watch Mass daily on the Television so, we recited together the Mass-prayer. We developed home garden that was already there. We also started cleaning the house and the house compound. We learned to eat without wasting when many lacked food and also because of the increase of the prize of essential commodities which had an impact on the vulnerable and the poor.

3. Miss Quinslin, Kopay Unit Member:

It was the first time that I did not participate in the Mass nor liturgical services during the Holy Week. It made me feel the importance of going for Holy Mass. In my family we become more together. I developed my desire for caring the garden. Since we are physically close  to Sangamam – “the Oblate Spiritual Animation Center”, we visited it. It is also one of our concerns. We shared with others what we had in plenty. We had enough time to talk to others from our home.

4. Mrs. Renald Mary Justa Croos, Aripputhurai Unit Coordinator.

Since we were deprived of our usual parish liturgical services we longed for the spiritual activities more than ever before. Every day we were praying at home with the family members together. It was really very hard to be at home without going out and meeting the relatives and friends. We had no job. We, as Lay members, once organized a Shramadana to clean our parish church. It was very much appreciated by the Parish Priest. Reciting Rosary was our daily schedule. Listening to the Masses through the loudspeaker when the Parish Priest was offering was the only consolation for us. All the six members in our family showed interest in reading the Bible. We never think about the Television in the morning as we were discussing about our family matters. There was competition among us to grow plants at home. It was really interesting to feel that we were together.

5. Miss. K. Arulvili, Mandaitivu Unit Member

Since my mother was very sick during this period I had to spend my whole time with her either in the hospital or at home. Doctors also suspected that my mother was suffering from Corona, but it was not so. However, my mother died during this period. We neither had funeral Mass nor people came for the funeral as a large gathering was totally prohibited. It made me so upset. The only consolation now is rosary. As a family we recite it every day. The members of MAMI were very helpful during this sorrowful moment. I offer this situation as a penance for the whole world to be protected from this COVID-19 pandemic.

6. Mrs. Eucharista, Keeri Unit Coordinator

Though we have the fear about this spreading of the virus, now we come to realize the real intension of the political leaders and their concern towards the safety of the country. We observe the changes in our lifestyle. We begin to take care about our cleanliness at our home and our surroundings.

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