Being a Church Worker-Mother Amidst COVID-19 and the New Normal

As a mother, I am just as frightened and fearful as the others. But as a church worker I am challenged with questions of effectiveness in the JPIC ministry. What should be our priorities? What adjustments should be taken? How can I serve in more relevant and meaningful ways? How do I re-imagine the work for justice, peace and integrity of creation ministry? How can I be more creative? How do I change ‘gear’?

Being a Church Worker-Mother Amidst COVID-19 and the New Normal

Miss Bibing

Bibing Mordeno, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)-Mindanao Animator

A new reality has unfolded in the last seven (7) months after people throughout the world have realized the devastating presence of COVID-19. To date, more than a million people worldwide have died from COVID-19. In our country alone, the death count has risen to 5,000 and a total of 304,000 people have been afflicted.

Despite the urgency of a comprehensive plan to mitigate its effects, existing bureaucratic practices and patronage politics still dominate the scene. Moreover, short-term exacerbation of the situation is the government’s national approach, by prioritizing economic recovery, sanction-based and quick controls of the virus’ spread in communities. What happens is that having access to aid is more of a privilege than a right. Poor and needy families, bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s impact, have limited access to basic support and other social services

The economic and psycho-social impact are real: cases of hunger, massive displacement and loss of jobs, bankruptcy among businesses, and increased incidence of abuse among children, women and vulnerable adults are graver than ever.

Depression and trauma cases are also on the rise. The emotional and mental turmoil have already resulted in cases of suicide and even parricide. Even front liners have called for a time-out to regain their strength. Meanwhile, students have to conform to virtual learning. This is an added pressure and burden to subsistent households.

In the so-called ‘new normal,’ complying with health protocols and using safety devices are an added expense on breadwinners’ meager incomes. Still, securing food is preferred by most for sure than the purchase of protective gear.

Other manifestations of the ‘new normal’ such as disruptive mobility, overt losses of livelihoods, working-from-home, virtual meetings and restrictions on celebrations even with family members are taking a toll on human relationships. Gone are the face-to-face interactions: now, computers and gadgets rule the day. In this aspect, the impact of the pandemic does not discriminate. Everyone feels confused, restive, unhappy and insecure. 

As a mother, I am just as frightened and fearful as the others. But as a church worker I am challenged with questions of effectiveness in the JPIC ministry. What should be our priorities? What adjustments should be taken? How can I serve in more relevant and meaningful ways? How do I re-imagine the work for justice, peace and integrity of creation ministry? How can I be more creative? How do I change ‘gear’?

Uncertain of COVID-19 and the threats of infection and contagion, the option to stay at home has become typical even among church leaders and workers. I could simply say that it is better to adhere to the government’s protocol to stay at home and be with my family.

In my quiet time, I was reminded of the Christian concept “kenosis” which means emptying one’s own will, for love of others, especially those in dire need. This pandemic is the special moment where my life’s choices are put to the test.

My conscience is trying to tell me of something. Where do I really want to be? Where do I align my mind and my heart? Being a mother and church worker, I know that survival matters. But a part of me also aspires to be with the poor and marginalized communities.

Hard questions need deep reflection. At the very least, what I can do at this time is to be grateful I have been given the opportunity to realize that this pandemic is a test of my faith; a challenge to align my commitment to my actions; and a humbling reminder that just like others, I am dispensable like dust in the wind. For now, the call of the ministry is to listen and discern, nurture and strengthen solidarity with others and keep the faith.

Padayon….

Bibing ZOOM