On a hillside in the Comox Valley, looking out towards the majestic glacier that takes its name from the valley stands the “wedding cake” church of Christ the King. It is impossible to miss. This is a church where Christ reigns in the hearts of the parishioners guiding them along unknown paths, to find new joys amid the pandemic.
“Who would have thought that the Catholic Women’s League would get together and have Zoom meetings?” Dale Jeffries asked. Dale is the Parish’s Office Coordinator. “This is a vibrant church that has found new connections through COVID-19 which, we hope, will grow even stronger once we can all meet again.”
Dale, together with Mary Nichols, a member of the Parish Pastoral Council, explained a few of the activities that have started since the onset of the pandemic, activities that have connected the youth and the elderly. They said that at the beginning of the COVID-19 shut down, the youth group, along with Roger Collin, the Youth and Family Coordinator, phoned all the elderly and those shut-in or alone, to see how they were doing. They also had another project. They took care packages round to those who wanted a distance visit. Inside each package, there was a calendar, a prayer book and some treats. “One lady phoned back in gratitude to say how much she felt she was part of the parish community, when she received the gift,” Mary said, adding, “…the youth really enjoyed it too.”
Mary has noticed that COVID-19 makes us more aware of our own mortality. “What is really heartening is that Roger in his outreach with the youth, was connecting with people who have left the church and who want to come back to meet with their priest,” she says.
Roger Collin and Abby Buckley with care packages
Prior to the latest Provincial Health Order, and the suspension of Masses, daily Mass was celebrated daily with cohorts of parishioners and, once every three weeks, Fr. David traveled to Hornby Island to celebrate Mass at the mission church of the Holy Cross. Fr. David continues to live-stream Mass daily. “This has opened up the opportunity for us to reach more parishioners. We hadn’t done something like that before,” Dale says. “Now it is so consistent. The parishioners who are at home are so grateful.”
The parishioners of Christ the King are still able to help in the community, albeit in a modified way due to the pandemic. They work at the soup kitchen, although they are currently making up brown bag lunches without the soup. They still visit care facilities although the visits are outside. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is collecting food donations for the poor, although they will store the donations for a time, to meet COVID-19 protocols.
What is on the Horizon of Hope for Christ the King parish? Both Dale and Mary are very excited that some of last year’s appeal funds have been used to commission a stained-glass window from Italy. It will portray the Canadian Martyrs, our ancestors who gave their lives making new connections for Christ. The message that Dale and Mary would like to share with our diocese is simple. “Happiness! That’s it. And really do the best you can, given the circumstances.”