By Fr. Ray McHenry

Like the two-faced Roman god, Janus, we look backward and forward at this time of year. Looking backward, I think it would be safe to say that 2020 is a year we want to put into the rearview mirror. We can list the turmoil of this year: pandemic, social and racial unrest, a contentious election, and an economic crisis that most of us haven’t experienced in our lifetimes.

Since the pandemic began, the entire year has been a sort of Advent with hopeful waiting. It has been a year of perpetual expectation. Waiting, hoping and expecting the end of our trials.

But what else did this year bring us in the turmoil? We discovered different ways to work, attend school, and to worship. While they were not all ideal, many of these changes will be with us long after COVID. I only had a passing knowledge of Zoom in February; now, like many of you, I have Zoom fatigue.

There were joyful high points to the year. We celebrated the traditional 8th Grade Clap Out with a Honk Out; we celebrated Good Friday with a drive-through Stations of the Cross; and I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my ordination with your help with a drive-through celebration. We put a new roof on the church, and upgraded our worship space and technology that will serve our worship and ministry well into the future.

While we are still in the grips of the pandemic, there is hope for 2021. The much hoped for vaccine is being administered and recovery from this awful disease is on the way. We will be fully back to school, to work, and to worship in 2021. We need patience and trust in the Lord that we will come out of this trial stronger, more knowledgeable, and faithful.

Pope Francis said: “The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life giving. We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce and transport goods.”

As we begin 2021, the Holy Father’s advice can be a blueprint for how we emerge from the pandemic and this chaotic year.

God bless you.