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April 2, 2020 –

My brothers and sisters,

Who would have thought a month ago how much the world around us would have changed by now? The COVID-19 pandemic has put so much on hold and has reminded us, as Father General Arturo Sosa said recently in a video message to Jesuits and collaborators, of both our fragility and vulnerability and of the call to support one another during this difficult time. If ever our culture’s sense of power and invincibility might awaken to our need for solidarity and for a need to turn to God, that moment is now.

That call to rely upon God’s mercy and to act on the Lord’s mandate to care for one another, especially for the most vulnerable among us, comes through clearly now, particularly in this Lenten season. While the need to remain at home limits our abilities to act, our zeal bids us pray with greater intensity and reach out to comfort and console wherever possible.

Thanks to the efforts of so many people, our senior brothers at Jesuit Hall in St. Louis, St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La., and Xavier Jesuit Center in Denver are safe. Provincial Assistant for Healthcare Ana Casey has worked hard with the superiors, ministers and staffs to provide for their wellbeing, recognizing the needs of the most vulnerable.

With so much up in the air now, I ask for your patience regarding events normally scheduled in the near future. We continue to plan for the ordinations, Jubilee celebrations and the Colleagues Retreats, but uncertainty surrounds our planning. We will communicate schedules as clearly and as quickly as possible. Consult your local parish or retreat house for their schedules.

Through it all, let us keep in prayer all those who bear the brunt of the burden of this pandemic, the elderly and those with compromised health, the healthcare workers who so valiantly serve the sick, those seeking cures and treatments. As Pope Francis suggested, let us “beseech the Lord in these days of suffering, as the world is sorely tried by the pandemic. May the Lord, good and merciful, grant the concerted prayer of His children who, with trustful hope, turn to His omnipotence.”

With prayers for your safety,

Ronald A. Mercier, SJ