Not by choice, Father Robert Marciano, president of Bishop Hendricken High School and pastor of St. Kevin and St. Benedict Churches, has been forced to slow down for the past 10 days. He’s been quarantined and he’s taking COVID-19 seriously.
While he hasn’t been at his school office, conducting masses, visiting the sick, or conferring with the police and fire departments where he is chaplain, he’s been planning to keep the wheels of education turning at Hendricken and St. Kevin School that both went to virtual learning on Monday. He said the virus is forcing us to “reshape education as we know it.” The long-range impact, he believes, could mean fewer schools and classrooms as well as fewer teachers, as other means of teaching become accepted.
In the case of Hendricken, some teachers will be in classrooms familiar to students only the desks won’t be occupied. A camera will live-stream the lesson to students at home and on their computers and laptops. The school day will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Father Marciano came out of quarantine Tuesday.
His possible encounter with COVID-19 occurred during First Penance that he and Fathers Roland Simoneau and David Gaffney performed at St. Kevin. One of the girls giving confessions for a first time related that her mother couldn’t attend because she was home sick. Concerns were raised when the symptoms were described and her mother later tested positive for the virus.
Father Marciano said the Department of Health showed no leniency. Everyone who was in the church, even those well removed from the child, was placed in quarantine. In total he estimated 70 people including adults and children were quarantined. Father Marciano said he remained in the parish house where he received a text daily about 10 a.m. inquiring whether he had a fever.
On one of the calls, Father Marciano said asked if he was restricted to being inside. He was told he could take walks outside and drive around.
“I feel like I’m a puppy dog,” he said with a laugh.
Father Marciano said he is living by the PSO motto – pray, stay and obey.
Father Marciano understands the importance of mass and communion to the faithful. Nonetheless, he is in agreement with the Pope’s unprecedented action to “postpone Holy Week” and close all Roman Catholic churches. “Easter Sunday packs the churches. It’s just not right to do this,” he said.
“These are challenging times and the governor is doing a good job,” he said. He is also “encouraged” by President Trump who he described as being “sturdy.”
As a chaplain with the National Guard, Father Marciano was sent to minister to those in the Pentagon immediately following the attacks of 9-11. Although COVID-19 is a crisis of even bigger proportion, he said we don’t have the means of consoling and supporting one another by hugging and touch. That lack of contact he sees as redefining our personal relationships. He’s unsure what role our electronic devices and our ability to communicate with them will play out.
But he’s confident we’ll have company.
“The Lord is never going to leave us alone,” he said. Father Marciano offered the following prayer: PRAYER TO BE SAID IN LIGHT OF THE CORONA VIRUSGod our Father we come to You in our need to ask your protection against the coronavirus that has claimed lives and has affected many. We pray for the Grace for the people tasked with studying the nature and cause of this virus and of stemming the tide of its transition. Guide the hands and minds of medical experts that they may minister to the sick with charity, compassion and competence and of those governments and private agencies that must find cure and solution to this epidemic. Pour out your Grace on all who are sick that they may recover quickly and thoroughly. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.St Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.