Priests, Religious Women Rise to Pandemic’s Challenges


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SAN DIEGO — “A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people,” Pope Francis tells us.

The priests and religious women and men serving across the Diocese of San Diego have continued to plant the seeds of God’s love across the region, even as the coronavirus upended every facet of life in the last 20 months.

The U.S. Catholic Church observes National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 7 to 13, to foster an appreciation for all vocations and pray specifically for those discerning a vocation to ordained ministry and consecrated life.

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged priests and religious men and women to find a way to continue to serve amid lockdowns and restrictions. They responded with creativity, compassion and a calming hand, even as they confronted their own fears and risked their own lives.

“I’ve never seen such human suffering in my entire life,” said Father Lawrence Agi, a chaplain for 15 years who works at Scripps Mercy Hospitals in Hillcrest and Chula Vista.

Sister Madeline Fitzgerald, OSC, from the congregation of Sisters of Saint Clare, reached out to RCIA candidates from St. Francis of Assisi Parish via Skype, text, email and Zoom videoconferencing. She was committed to finding a way to keep their spiritual growth going despite the restrictions.

Father Agi and Sister Fitzgerald are part of the 200 priests and 228 religious sisters and brothers who serve in the San Diego Diocese. The priests include those of the diocese itself, from other dioceses and from religious orders; and the religious men and women include those based locally and those whose communities are based elsewhere.

A supplement published by The Southern Cross in November highlights the contributions of a few of the religious orders that contribute to the diocese. Their members work tirelessly at parishes, schools, universities, religious organizations, prisons and jails, college campuses, nursing homes, and in other places where there is good soil to plant a seed of God’s love.


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