Dear Fathers / Brothers / Sisters,
When people are confronted with insurmountable problems and adverse situations in life they are invariably comforted by the hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the case of Covid-19 I am afraid, the end does not appear to be too close. The devastating effects of the pandemic keep threatening the world more alarmingly than ever before. The doctors and the scientists are running out of ideas as to how to put an end to this catastrophe. When human efforts/ attempts come to a standstill there is but one option- turn to God. Dear friends, let us firmly believe that Jesus is the only answer at this moment of crisis and it is only he who can deliver us from this dreadful situation.
The Corona pandemic has been particularly cruel to our diocese. As many as 36 priests and deacons were infected by Covid Virus and three of our dear brother priests have sadly succumbed to the deadly virus. The sudden demise of Fr. N. R. Charles, Fr. B. John Suresh and Fr. K. Victor Immanuel is indeed an irreplaceable loss to our diocese. As we remember their ministry with love and gratitude, let us continue to pray for the repose of their souls. Let us remember their parents, their dear and near ones for whom this loss is painful and life – changing. I have only spoken about the affected priests. There were, I am sure, hundreds of our good Catholics and quite a few religious men and women who were badly affected and some who have fallen victims of the pandemic. Let us keep them all in our prayers.
Speaking of prayers for our people, I wish to thank you sincerely and personally for your valuable prayers and kind wishes when I myself was hospitalized. This was indeed a special time for me when I experienced the genuine love and concern of so many people. It was also a time that made me realize that I need God more than anything in life. Please do continue to pray for me and for the diocese.
Finally, my dear brother priests, please do take special care of your health in this pandemic period. Please do not venture out of your parish house unless it is absolutely necessary. When you have any health issues, go to the doctor immediately – do not delay. Procrastination is our biggest enemy. You surely do know what needs to be done when you have weddings and funerals. Follow the guidelines of the Government as faithfully as possible. As I have not been able to meet you personally for quite some time we will try to organize zoom meetings at the Vicariate level.
God bless you and your ministry!
Yours in Christ,
+ Most Rev. Dr. A. Neethinathan
Bishop of Chingleput