The Covid-19 pandemic may have shut down much of Kentucky in 2020, but Sister Vivian Bowles was adamant the children of St. Alphonsus Parish were going to receive the sacraments they prepared so hard to achieve. It looks like nothing is going to stop her this year either.
Sister Vivian is the director of Faith Formation at the parish across the road from Mount Saint Joseph. She didn’t realize how creative and disciplined she would have to become when the pandemic struck.
“Initially, at the request of our bishop and governor, we just dismissed our Faith Formation Wednesday night classes and cancelled our first Communion and confirmation celebrations,” she said. “After looking at all possibilities, we decided to request that our pastor replace the bishop to administer the sacrament of confirmation to our class of 13. Then we decided to have a Safe Distance Day of Celebration in late July for both our first Eucharist and confirmation children with only parents, godparents and immediate family in attendance. Luckily three families have a child in each class and quite a few others are cousins with the same grandparents.
“When we concluded this was a good plan for St. Alphonsus, we used the same plan at St. Elizabeth in Curdsville, since most of those children also attend our Faith Formation classes,” Sister Vivian said. “Things were different, to say the least, but the plans worked well and all children were able to receive the sacraments for which they had spent seven and a half months preparing. Some took two sets of family pictures – one with and one without masks.”
The next plan was how to have Faith Formation classes this academic year, when none of the parents seemed to want virtual classes.
“We explored every available space at St. Alphonsus and – due to some of our smaller classes –we were able to use a couple of classrooms, our large kitchen and the conference room,” Sister Vivian said. “We made a partitioned classroom in the large parish hall. We even used the church as a classroom for a few weeks. We require all children and catechists to wear masks and keep safe distance. So far, they are very blessed – none have contracted Covid-19.”
Additional changes in Sister Vivian’s ministry include sanitizing the whole building each week before and after classes, and having much more contact with parents via emails, texts, phone calls and letters.
“Communication is always important, but now more communication is devoted to Covid-19 restrictions than previous communications,” she said. “I spend more time than I would prefer on Zoom meetings, conferences, and mini retreats with the diocesan office staff who oversee our Faith Formation programs. I am more a face-to-face person, but I appreciate their concern and assistance.”
She also appreciates the effort put in by the catechists, who teach the children the sacraments directly.
“More time is needed to work with the catechists to determine meaningful activities and arrangements for classes,” Sister Vivian said. “I am so grateful to our wonderful volunteer catechists and cooperative parents who have contributed so much to making Faith Formation classes safe, successful and enjoyable. May God continue blessing this ministry.”
To keep up with what’s happening at St. Alphonsus Church, visit www.saintalphonsusparish.org.