Fr. Joseph Dillon SVD, our Irish confrere, has worked in several parishes. He recently moved to the parish of Saint Mark in Sao Paulo. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Joseph sees the evolution and progress of this catastrophic event as a challenge. He describes here some of his observations and reflections.
Fr. Joseph recalls the celebration of Palm Sunday in the parish. The Churches were empty, and only one mass was celebrated. On top of that, there was no procession of palms, just a virtual one. The restrictions are justifiable, and the death rate has risen to 3000 a day in Brazil. Then Fr. Joseph begins to express his dissatisfaction with how the pandemic is being handled. Lockdown was never practiced in more than one city. At the start of the pandemic, the President would not accept the necessity of buying vaccines and closing the commercial side of life.
The lack of vaccines holds up the vaccination rate. Brazil, before this government, was a country renowned for its campaigns on vaccination. It's lamentable that we have sunk to such a low category in less than two years because of the president's incompetence and his ministers. Then Fr. Joseph expressed his frustration and concern on some parties and clandestine funk dances. The police cannot go to certain areas because of the danger of deaths that may occur. The only way that the police can stop funk dances, which happen in the streets, is to get there before the crowds arrive. The leaders of these funk dances organized their events through social media.
Of course, at these dances, like the ones held at Paraisopolis, there are no restrictions, no mask or alcohol gel. The young participants drink and take drugs. These funk dances start from 2:00 a.m. aided by a deafening music.
Fr. Joseph, amid the negative situations, shares a hopeful action, “In the parish where I worked, a group of people in one of the communities meets every week to produce 280 dinners for the poor. With so many mouths to feed, the problems are only starting.” Fr. Joseph adds, “We can't go back to everyday living. I have seen so much generosity in the Church groups led by ordinary simple people. They are considered heroes by the way they help their fellow men in the face of challenges. Life is too short; I need another 20 years to start to do something worthwhile for others.”
Adopted from the sharing of Fr. Joseph Dillon, SVD