Resilience, strength and faith go hand in hand when talking about Church. What now feels like the ending to an everlasting dark time with the Coronavirus pandemic, society is able to collectively see light at the end of an over year-long tunnel. The Church was seen as a light for many during these dark times, providing a space to find faith and resilience. The Sacred Heart Church in Manchester-by-the-Sea was able to collectively empower those in our community giving out the message that although this is a difficult time – we surpass difficulty together.
I had the opportunity of sitting with Father Paul Flammia to talk about what Sacred Heart did in order to benefit the community around these COVID times.
In order to facilitate worship, the churches of Saint John the Baptist and Sacred Heart Church were combined into one. This integration will be officially merged on July 1st of 2021. The new name of this Parish will be called The Visitation Parish due to the story on the Bible and derived from the concept of coming together, in both happy and hard times. This was derived from the idea of the Manchester-Essex school system which has been an integrated school system between the two towns for decades.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sacred Heart was able to resume slowly but surely. In April of last year, small groups were able to come into the church and were able to reserve seating online due to contact tracing. Groups gradually became larger reaching a higher percentage of capacity each time.
Due to the continuous cleaning and maintenance of the Sacred Heart Church, Father Paul reports that there were no cases of the Coronavirus coming directly from the Sacred Heart Church.
In more recent months, The Council of Aging posed an idea: vaccination clinic in the Sacred Heart Church. Instead of people nearby driving far distances for the vaccine, a more local alternative was put in place. There were 20 different vaccination clinics that took place overall. From February until the last one which took place just a bit ago for those 12 and older.
Additionally, the Montessori Early Childhood School for those infants till age 5 was able to stay open during these difficult months due to strictly following the health guidelines. By adhering to protocols and keeping everyone safe it was able to keep running and facilitate the life of parents who perhaps had more kids at home due to the stay-in-home-order.
Stories of courage, faith, strength and resilience encapsulate the hard and troubling times that impacted everyone one way or another during these times. But with helping hands such as integration of churches, resume of service, vaccination clinics and open daycare – things are facilitated. Collectively through the strength of those around us we are able to find light and hope at the end of a dark tunnel.