By Samantha Hilyer
Saint Vincent sent its students home to abate the spread of COVID-19 among a concentrated community of students and staff – but what preventative measures are being taken for the Benedictine monks, who are still living in close quarters at the monastery?
As in any community, explained Kim Metzgar, Director of Archabbey and Seminary Public Relations, the monks are complying with social distancing rules through changes to their routine. They have switched the location for the bulk of their morning, midday, and evening prayer from the intimate Saint Gregory Chapel to the more open and spacious Basilica to provide interpersonal distance.
Dining services for the Benedictines have also been adapted to conform to social distancing. The cafeteria is now being used by the monks instead of the monastic dining area so that monks are able to sit more than six feet apart, as recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Food is also being served to each individual monk to prevent multiple people from using serving utensils.
“[The monks] also pray for our students and their families, our alumni and friends, and their families.” - Kim Metzgar
The monks are confined to their living spaces, and are not allowed to travel without prior permission and a valid reason, such as a medical appointment.
However, despite the grim circumstances and the distancing rules that they must adhere to, the members of the monastic community are still praying, especially for those affected by COVID-19 at this time and for all the medical personnel who are in the midst of the pandemic.
“[The monks] also pray for our students and their families, our alumni and friends, and their families,” Metzgar said.
Bishop Malesic has suspended all public Masses and closed all churches in the Diocese of Greensburg, and Saint Vincent Archabbey has complied with the request. But that does not mean that parishioners and students are not still being ministered to. Saint Vincent Seminary is offering livestream broadcasts at 8 a.m. daily for the morning Mass. Students are also invited to virtually attend daily Mass via Instagram livestream at 12:05 p.m.
Important occasions in the parish are not being foregone either.
According to Metzgar, there was a livestreamed funeral Mass on Thursday, March 26 for family members and friends of a parishioner who passed away.
You can follow these links for Mass information and streaming:
Livestream Mass: https://livestream.com/accounts/7242207
Recorded Mass: https://vimeo.com/manage/showcases/6878017/info
Seminary Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaintVincentSeminary/