By Will Shaw
The Coronavirus (as of this writing, March 11) has now been declared a pandemic with over 1,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and about 120,000 world-wide. Fear of spreading the disease has caused universities and schools to cancel classes and some companies are urging employees to work from home. Public and private events and gatherings are also being cancelled, including the Missionary Oblate’s planned Convocation, which had been scheduled for mid-April.
This gathering, which is held every three years brings together U.S. Oblates and members of the Mazenodian Family, along with guests from around the world for a week of prayer and fellowship. Usually numbering a few hundred individuals, the Convocation and the related travel is exactly the kind of event that medical professionals are recommending people avoid, especially those aged 60 and older with any under-lying health issues. This was precisely the concern expressed by Provincial Superior, Fr. Louis Studer in his announcement of cancellation:
“For me, the most compelling reason to cancel is the fact that as a group, most of us fall into the “high-risk” category. The medical community is now specifically recommending that individuals aged 60 and older avoid travel and being in close quarters with large groups of people….
No meeting, no matter how special is worth risking the health and well-being of our men, therefore our message to you must be, “Stay home, stay safe.”
No alternate plans for the event are being made at this time.