The so-called metropolitan area of the Port of Veracruz has a population of about one million inhabitants; and the Piarist presence consists of a college, three schools, a social center, a parish, a pastoral center and a retreat house. We work with about 5700 students and more than 700 collaborators.
The coronavirus pandemic began to be felt significantly in Mexico from March on, and since about 60 days, a high level of quarantine or confinement has been promoted, with the suspension of courses and social and pastoral activities. This restrictive scenario will be maintained for at least much of June, causing the school course of all cycles to finish online.
At the time of writing, the area is at the peak of contagion, with an increasing daily rate in mortality. There are already several of the collaborators infected and many families who suffer from the disease and loss of loved ones. The traumatic experience associated with the fear of the pandemic and its possible labor and economic consequences has led to the overflow of social and psychological disorders, including from depression to domestic violence.
The Piarist religious are well, and our work has focused fundamentally on:
- Maintaining the regularity of educational activities remotely, using technological platforms. This has required technical and human accompaniment from the teaching staff who have carried out their tasks with great responsibility and professionalism. However, it has also been necessary to develop parallel activities that guarantee education for students who do not have access to technology.
- Promoting spaces of psychological and spiritual accompaniment through means of remote assistance, where people are referred to different companions and counselors according to their need. The Sunday Eucharist online and the daily Eucharist in person for essential collaborators have been maintained. We seek the greatest closeness to members of our community who are sick or have lost loved ones.
- Guaranteeing the salary and social benefits of employees and promoting the deadlines and discounts necessary for the payment of families. We seek the greatest empathy with everyone and a financial balance that is difficult, but not impossible.
- Designing the next school year with the greatest enthusiasm, adapting to the new challenges and opportunities that will also come.
If the present is being very hard and full of difficulties, the truth is that the future is also unpredictable. Beyond the reality of health, the evolution of which we do not know, it is clear that the country will experience (already does it) a very serious economic downturn with the ultimate loss of hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs. However, it is also true that the future is built among all and we must be ready to offer the Veracruz society the best.
The “exit” of this is going to be very hard, not only because of the painful sense of personal, professional and material losses, but also because of the eventual alteration of the fragile social and political balances that are in the country and in the state of Veracruz. For now, it is time to sustain with effort, accompany with creativity and dream boldly.
Fr. Rodolfo Robert Sch. P.