In January 2020, our country was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, we have been forced to adopt a completely new lifestyle of mask wearing, social distancing and remote work. Many have experienced financial hardships; some being forced to go to food banks or homeless shelters. Families have been ripped apart by stay-at-home orders and the death of loved ones.

However, throughout these devastating times, health-care workers have remained strong in fighting for our country’s health. Experiencing stark PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) shortages at the beginning of the pandemic, many were forced to wear disposable face masks for up to 10 days, intensifying their exposure.

In early March, my grandparents’ nursing home was struck by the virus. That’s when I knew it was my obligation as a Catholic to live out God’s message of charity and give back to those who care for my loved ones. Utilizing my sewing skills and a simple tutorial, I went to work making reusable face masks to help prevent further infection among staff and residents. In total, I have donated 200 hundred masks to the nursing home.

My biggest motivation in starting this project was my faith. As a child of God, I felt it was my duty to use my talents to provide love and support for those struggling during these challenging times. Just as Jesus gave his life to save us from sin, health-care workers give every ounce of themselves to help their patients. However, they too deserve to be cared for. Making my contribution, I felt better connected with my faith and humbled as a good Samaritan in God’s mission to spread love.

The pandemic has also taught me the importance of faith. When overwhelmed by hopelessness or anxiety, I often question whether God is with us during these challenging times. However, reflecting upon past life experiences, I realize He has always been there, guiding us to the light at the end of the tunnel, now more than ever. This pandemic journey has also taught me the importance of human connection and the strengthening ties of humility and love. Although we have experienced plenty of hardships, our unity has led to many triumphs, a testament to our strength. Connecting our suffering with that of Jesus’ journey on the cross, we can be comforted and inspired. Giving me the tools to help the world, I know God is with me and helping me develop a better version of myself.

However, without the contribution of Catholic education, my faith would not be where it is today. Having attended Catholic school since I was in kindergarten, my faith has grown with me through the years. Whether at Mass or theology class, I have been taught to value my faith and use it as a tool to enrich my life. In my last year and a half at Holy Names, I hope to further strengthen my faith and continue to help the world by spreading God’s love.

Rebecca Jorgensen is a junior at the Academy of the Holy Names in Albany.