students in quarantine continue to practice faith

Della Johnson | Staff Writer

For followers of various religions, practicing their faith while being recommended to stay at home has been the spark to many new ideas and innovations.

Whether it is a reliance on the internet or more old-school tactics, the quarantine has expanded the boundaries of following a religion. Senior Haddon Foley has practiced Catholicism her entire life and attends the St. Susanna Church. Before the COVID-19 quarantine, she practiced her faith at home through specific religious daily readings and attended youth groups as well as church services. 

“I fit time into my schedule to pray every day and I read a daily devotional at night,” Foley said. ”My family attends mass every Sunday. I am also a part of St. Susanna’s youth group, LIFE (Living in Faith Experience). In this youth group, we seek to strengthen our relationship with God, as well as our faith. We usually talk about certain Bible verses and how we could incorporate them in our daily lifestyles, as well as many activities including a group prayer at the end of the session.”

Now that she, along with the rest of Ohio, is encouraged to stay home and isolate herself, Foley’s religious practices look a bit different. Thousands of churches have ended all face-to-face masses and events for the next few months. Foley now integrates live streams, group video calls, and music into her new routine.

“Since all of us are supposed to follow the social distancing rule, my family and I have been watching St. Susanna’s live streaming mass online,” Foley said. “Also, my youth group has been participating in many Zoom calls. We have read sections of the Bible, prayed the rosary, and talked about everything that is happening with the coronavirus. I have been trying to listen to more Christian music as well since I have more time in my schedule.”

As a member of her church, Foley has been able to lead programs discussing faith to those younger than her. She said her time away from them has caused her to miss them.

“I am also one of the leaders of a program for grades three through eight at St. Susanna called SPRED (Special Religious Education Development),” Foley said. “Every other Monday, I went to the church to help teach lessons to special needs children about faith and God. The part that I miss most during this quarantine time is seeing the children. It’s truly a gift to have a relationship with each of them.”

Sophomore Dayna Pinsky practices Judaism. In the springtime, she usually has a large celebration with her family for the Jewish holiday of Passover. She said this year it won’t be able to happen how it has traditionally.

“My family is Jewish and [April 8th] was the first night of Passover,” Pinsky said. “For a traditional celebration of Passover within Judaism, we typically have a Seder where my family gathers for a meal and we retell the story of Passover and the 10 plagues in remembrance of what the Jewish people went through. This year, since we didn’t want to be in the same room with my grandparents due to the virus and social distancing, we had to do it over Zoom. [My family] pre-made the food and everything to take up to their house to give to them.” 

Even though the quarantine has separated her from her extended family, Pinsky used the time to strengthen her bond with her immediate one. They are celebrating together and doing faith-related activities.

“In other aspects, though, my family has been celebrating Shabbat more often since we’re all home on Friday nights,” Pinsky said. “It’s really nice. I’ve been making homemade challah, a traditional braided bread, which is something fun I’ve never done before.”

Though her time with in-person worship has been restricted, Foley’s relationship with her faith hasn’t been damaged. She said that, being fueled by gratitude, it has only become stronger.

“I think this quarantine has changed my relationship with God for the better because I have had more time to reflect and pray for many people during this difficult time,” Foley said. “Instead of seeing this quarantine in a negative light, I have been looking at the positives. Many people at Mason are fortunate enough to have many blessings, such as food, shelter, a strong family unit, great technology, and more. I am grateful for this extra time that I can spend in my religion as well as family time before college.”

Illustration by Della Johnson.