Lenten season perseveres in face of coronavirus

By Gabi DiPaulo | April 8, 2020 5:07pm

The novel coronavirus pandemic fell during Lenten season, making celebrations of Palm Sunday and Easter far different from tradition. Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash.

More than a month ago on Ash Wednesday, members of the University of Portland trailing out from the Chapel of Christ the Teacher were asked why they celebrated Lent. Some students were renewing their Catholic faith; others were just beginning their journey. 

In the weeks since Ash Wednesday, communities have experienced a global reset. Some priorities from before the outbreak of COVID-19 can suddenly seem much smaller; others have gained an even deeper importance. 

The Beacon reached out to seven community members to see how their celebration of Lent has been affected by the coronavirus. Their responses were emailed to The Beacon and can be found below. 

Campus Ministry will also be celebrating the Easter Liturgies virtually through livestreams beginning April 9. The Servant Leadership Team (SLT) is also providing a space for spiritual reflection for students on their new Pilot Ministry page.

Jade Harloe (left) and Isa Carrillo (right) are freshmen nursing majors.

by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

Jade Harloe (She/her/hers), freshman nursing major

“I would say that my celebration has definitely been different because with everything going on it doesn’t really feel like Lent anymore. But being at home, my mom definitely reminds us, so I’ve been able to try to stay consistent with what I decided to do for lent.”

Isa Carrillo (she/her/hers), freshman nursing major

“I gave up snacking for lent and with COVID-19 it has been a challenge. When I was at school, I had less access to snacks. Now I have a kitchen full of snacks steps away at all times. I have to find other ways to distract me and I have been getting through it.”

Rebekah Padua is a senior math and theology major.
by Lisa Erenstein / The Beacon

Rebekah Padua (she/her/hers), senior math and theology major

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, my eyes were open to how beautiful and open the Catholic community is. I learned that reflection with God is possible in any circumstance, whether that’d be in the overwhelming demands of school, or trying to get by in the midst of a global health crisis. I chose to celebrate Lent this year to remind myself to stay grounded in my faith, which has been difficult under the stress of life. Given the amount of love and support that has come out of this chaos though, I’ve been reminded that there’s always a spare minute to reflect on my blessings, and that’s enough reason to stay strong in my faith.”

Fr. Mark Poorman is the president of the university.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Fr. Mark Poorman (he/him/his), president of the University of Portland

“In my response to the earlier question posed by the The Beacon, I noted that Lent is a time of penance in which many Christians pray, fast, and offer support to the poor as practices that bring us closer to our own need for God’s grace and mercy, a time of spiritual renewal in preparation for Easter. The outbreak of this pandemic has marked my own observance of this season of Lent with a renewed hope in God's providence in the face of so much uncertainty; a renewed sense of dependence on God’s healing power in the world; and a renewed appreciation for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who draws us into communities of love and support.”

Taylor Gilliland is a senior electrical engineer.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Tyler Gilliland (he/him/his), senior electrical engineer

“My Lenten celebration certainly has been changed, but at least for now, it’s made certain opportunities even more clear. I and four other close friends resolved to participate in Exodus 90, a 3-month practice of prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. It includes practices like a daily hour of quiet prayer, cold-turkey cuts of media entertainment, snacks, sweet foods, alcohol, hot showers … the disciplines are designed to help unite inner conversion with external acts of penance and offering. As one of the few students still on campus, I have plenty of time to read and pray in solitude, and it’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I fully intend to spend the rest of Lent offering up whatever I do for everyone else who is being more directly affected in their lives—or worse, the lives of their loved ones."

Brittany D'Souza is a senior biology and Spanish major.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Brittany D’Souza (she/her/hers), senior biology major

“I originally said that ‘Lent is a beautiful way to stop and reflect and focus in on faith tradition.’ COVID-19 has completely disrupted usual practices of Lent, going to mass and seeing the community come together to celebrate this season. However, I think COVID-19 has forced me to stop and reflect even more (hello, free time!) and instead of seeing the community come together only at mass, I think it is amazing how our global community is sacrificing by socially distancing to help our health-care workers and others of our high-risk community members. Thinking of how much of a global effort this is, gives me hope! I am spending a lot of time reflecting on that this Lenten Season.”

Tyler Wagner is the Immersion Program Manager in the Moreau Center for Service and Justice.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Tyler Wagner (he/him/his), Immersion Program Manager in Moreau Center for Service and Justice

“Lent has been more challenging, like so many things, due to COVID-19. Community is so important to how I live out my faith so losing weekly Mass and planned Lenten events like discussion groups on Pope Francis’ encyclical On Care of Our Common Home that was going to happen at my parish have been losses. Yet I have been finding new places for community like the Ignatian Solidarity Network hosting virtual faith and justice-focused happy hours or being able to find some joy and peace in the poem “Lockdown” by Brother Richard Hendrick. So I think my faith has helped me carry forward with others in these challenging times, while still feeling grief for so many who are struggling.”

Gabi DiPaulo is the Living editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at dipaulo21@up.edu.