By Fr. Giovanni Zevola, OMI
This Chinese New Year has started in a not very good way. Within a few days, we have seen a drastic change of mood from festive to worried.
Until just a few days before the new year (January 25), most Chinese, as they usually do before the festive season, were busy with travelling to their hometowns, shopping, preparing for the big day and ready to have “a break”. It was also the same for us, with very few activities taking place here in Beijing. We had just finished the activities at the migrant centre and the Mazenod inter-cultural company. Therefore, Johnny (Fr. Johnny RAKOTOARISOA) and I were just as willing to “slow down” our usual rhythm. Fr. Rey AMANCIO in the meantime went back to his family in the Philippines for a well-deserved vacation.
And then the “year of the rat” brought a bitter surprise, as we started to hear news about the coronavirus outbreak! Literally, in no time, the city went into “pause mode”: travels suspended, no organizing of gatherings, shops practically closed and people requested to remain at home and wear masks at all times.
Certainly, those precautions helped to prevent a faster spread of the coronavirus. However, the fact that this happened during the New Year vacation meant that people had mixed reactions. Some were unhappy as they missed a great festival while some others were over-worried, especially on the social (like WeChat) with all kind of news where it was difficult to distinguish between truth and rumour. However, the majority of the people seem to be very calm remaining in their houses or moving around their compounds doing exercise.
Since January 24, the Diocese of Beijing has suspended all Masses in churches or chapels, and will inform us when it is possible to resume normal church activities.
As for the two of us, we are determined to stay calm and continue our daily chores: Morning Prayer and Mass (just the two of us) and taking turns to prepare our meals, with hardly any visitors coming our way. At the moment, it is difficult to say how things will evolve. We do try to keep a positive outlook while observing what is happening around us.
We thank you for your concern and support. Let us pray that the Lord will continue to bless and protect China and its people.