Salesianum School celebrated Mass April 29 for those on the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus, and representatives from the law enforcement, scientific research and healthcare fields participated in the service remotely.
Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father Christian Beretta, the principal of Salesianum, celebrated the Mass from the school chapel. It opened with Delaware State Police tropper Scott Mauchin, an alumnus playing bagpipes outside the school. Father Beretta explained why the Mass was being called the “Gold, White and Blue Mass,” which can be viewed online.
“Gold to pray for scientists and researchers who are working hard at this time to develop responses to the virus we are facing; white for doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals who are on the front lines of easing the pain and suffering of others; and blue for police, fire and first responders who continue their lives of service during this time of stress and difficulty,” he said.
“We pray in gratitude for them. We pray for their health and safety, and we pray that all of us will be inspired in our own lives to follow their example of love and service.”
In the Gospel, from John, Jesus declares that he is the bread of life, and that he will be there to raise us up on the last day. It is a message we can all use today, Father Beretta said in his homily.
“I know that we’re all feeling right now that need to be raised up,” he said.
There are those among us who are called to make the ultimate sacrifice, or to put their lives on the line, “and sometimes the best that the rest of us can do to be part of that effort is to raise up the spirits of those who are putting so much on the line.”
Father Beretta recalled a quote from President John F. Kennedy in which the president said not to pray for easy lives, but to be stronger men. Father Beretta modified that a bit to fit the current situation.
“We gather here not only to pray in gratitude for the sacrifice of others, but to pray that we, too, will be made stronger men and women as a result of their example,” he said. “This, in so many ways, is the consistent message of our faith. It’s the message of this Gold, White and Blue Mass. Gratitude for those lives of love and service who are doing so much for us right now, but realizing that it’s the same path that all of us are called to find, each in our own way.”
He called upon people to live lives of service, as those fighting the coronavirus are living. No act of service is too small, and no act of love goes unnoticed. The first responders, researchers and healthcare workers show us what it means to lay one’s life down for one’s friends.
The petitions were presented via a video link by three Salesianum alumni: Chris Sutton, a state police trooper and 1995 graduate; Frank Fitzpatrick, a professor of pharmacology at Trinity College of Medicine in Georgia and a 1965 alumnus; and Mike Barkasy, a physician in West Grove, Pa., who graduated in 1991. Barkasy was joined by his wife, Linda, a pediatrician.
Jennifer Anthony, chairperson of the science department, offered the Salesian reflection. She talked about the difficulty she and her husband had starting a family and how that affected her relationship with God and her faith.
“We couldn’t understand why God couldn’t help us with this one thing we asked for,” she said.
Eventually, the couple adopted a son from Russia, but that took about a year and was filled with challenges. On her first visit to Russia, while holding her son, a sense of calm came over her. Anthony talked to God for the first time in two years.
“I thanked God at that time for his patience with me,” she said.
They had to leave the boy in Russia while the adoption was finalized, but three weeks later, they were back in the country. Just as her patience was tested, ours may be as well each time we face a new change or restriction because of the coronavirus. We should remember, Anthony said, that when we need God the most, he will be there.
“Don’t lose faith, be patient with yourself and others, and know that God is with you in all that you do,” she said.