Most people in the state have transitioned to working from home. This is the “home office” of Mike Matvey, editor of The Evangelist. (Mike Matvey photo)
Most people in the state have transitioned to working from home. This is the “home office” of Mike Matvey, editor of The Evangelist. (Mike Matvey photo)

Words we never thought we would ever use — quarantine, self-isolation, social distancing and flatten the curve — have now become commonplace. Gone are all semblances of human contact; no hugging, no handshaking. Now we stay away from people by at least six feet. We can’t go outside. Kids can’t go to school. We can’t go to Mass. Some people are sheltering in place.

We are in uncharted territory as a Diocese. After all, the last time the Diocese canceled Masses was back in 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic and that was for only two weeks. It is more than likely there will be no public Masses for longer than that, which seems unfathomable.

This is life in the time of the coronavirus.

But it must be done. It has to be done.

COVID-19 can cause serious — and possibly fatal — health problems for the elderly and people with underlying conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Take every precaution you can, including staying away from people, washing your hands and working from home. 

The alarm bells are sounding loud and clear. And this will likely get worse before it gets better. Don’t be complacent. Yes, 80 percent of the people who get it will only have mild symptoms, but it could devastate certain populations. Listen to the experts! They are the ones with the medical degrees and experience in pandemics. When it comes to the coronavirus, stay off social media it is a morass of misinformation. And pray for the retired priests — there are 56 in their 70s, 33 in their 80s and 14 in their 90s in our Diocese alone — and sisters. They always need your prayers; now more than ever!

But make no mistake, we will get through this together. 

We are hard-wired for human contact as a species. We want to be around people. We feel good talking to people and getting and giving hugs or that pat on the shoulder. Now we can’t do that. So, if you have the time, pick up the phone and call someone! Someone you haven’t talked with in a while or that elderly couple you know could use a little pick me up. That makes all the difference. It can be depressing enough living in the Northeast with the constant chill and gray clouds. A simple phone call, a prayer together, can brighten someone’s day.

The Evangelist will continue to bring a little light into your life as we try to offer a sense of normalcy in the paper and on the website. Sure we will have the latest on COVID-19, but we will offer features, stories on faith, Lent and Holy Week. We hope to take your mind off the stress that this new life has brought.

That is why we also want to hear your stories. How are the people of the Diocese of Albany dealing with this new normal? How has your life changed? Are you working from home? How are you juggling teaching your kids and working from home all at the same time? Are you in self-quarantine? But most importantly, how are you practicing your faith in this time of crisis? Do you have a spiritual spot in your home now? We want to know! We think it will help everybody in the Diocese cope. Send your stories — and photos — via email to mike.matvey@rcda.org or at info@evanglist.org. You can also send mail to 40 N. Main Ave., Albany, N.Y., 12203, although the Pastoral Center is now closed to visitors. The staff of The Evangelist, however, will be picking up mail at least twice a week.

You can also keep your Catholic faith alive by watching a local Mass live streamed online, or by watching a Mass on your TV from a variety of platforms. Also, head to the Diocese of Albany’s comprehensive website,rcda.org/coronavirus, for all the latest information.

And make no mistake we have the best shepherd you could possibly have in Bishop Ed. He is here to guide the Diocese of Albany through this storm. With his steadying hand and lots of prayer, we can make it through this crisis.