Mission in a
Mission in a COVID-19 World
by Lloyd D’Souza | Formation Student in the Diocese of Perth
During the last couple of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging to many if not all of us. It has, however, been particularly challenging to the most vulnerable people of our community, namely the elderly and those without any welfare support. I know this first-hand since I work in an aged care facility.
During this testing time, I pondered deeply on the words ‘essential workers’ - on every aspect of the term. While I was not providing the more sophisticated services of healthcare workers, I know for a fact that food is an equally essential part of health care for the residents at RAAFA Bull Creek, where I work as the Chef Manager, catering wholesome meals to 160 residents in the two aged care facilities as well as those residents living in the 390 independent units and apartments.
When the government announced the closure of all hospitality venues, it became necessary to close Café Dean indefinitely to the residents on the Estate and to our regular patrons. This was coupled with the compulsory lockdown of all aged care facilities across Australia, further increasing my dilemma about what to do. I was stuck in a situation that I didn’t know how to handle.
There were residents who relied heavily on Café Dean for their meals and had no alternative. And then there was casual staff whose employment was to be terminated, most of them international students not entitled to financial help from Centrelink. After much negotiating with the management, I was able to retain the casual staff by offering them a bare minimum of 10-15 hours of work every week and for the residents continued meal delivery by providing a takeaway service before lunchtime, five days a week.
My faith has sustained me during this time, by my practising the presence of God through prayer and silence, by my gathering inspiration from reading the stories of Saints and the resilience they had shown in their times of trial and by my extending that presence of God to the residents within the aged care facility, every time I was called on to offer pastoral care to those who were sick and dying. Lockdown made it difficult to have family members and visitors, but there was no locking down God’s love for the residents. I may not be classified as an essential worker, but it has become essential for me to put my faith into action and live out my baptismal calling.