NEWS & EVENTS
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OF THE GOOD (GREAT!) WORKS OF THE
Excerpt from Joe Gibbons' Letter to parishioners, supporters, volunteers and staff members.....February 16, 2021
Wyandanch has been hit hard with both a very high Covid infection rate and economic damage as most of our clients who are in the service industry have lost their jobs and their sole source of income for their families.
However, on Friday, February 12th, we successfully hosted a vaccination pop up site for this hard hit community where 400 plus people were vaccinated. After days of negotiation with the Governor's Office, Stony Brook Hospital and the Diocese including site survey visits, the Outreach Center was selected and approved as a community based Covid vaccination Pop Up Site. This was a vital step towards protecting this vulnerable community as most of our client base and senior citizens do not have access to technology for obtaining vaccine appointments. Once selected, we had only a few days to contact our clients, OLMM parishioners, Noelle's network of churches of all faiths, the Senior Center, some local organizations, and then complete the registration process.
Once News Channel 12 and other local media announced the pop up site, we were besieged with requests from the tri-state area but kept our focus on registering local residents and a few outreach volunteers. The demographics of the vaccinated population fully represented the demographics of the community; this also included many seniors in their 80's and 90's, even one who was 101 years old. Although it was cold outside, registrants patiently waited outside to avoid overcrowding inside and this allowed for a very organized and peaceful event. One example was where a young woman with her 101 year old great grandmother in her car came to me so I told her to pull up. As she did, I yelled to the people waiting on the line that she is 101 and she gets preference for the front of the line, at 101 you get a buy; everyone cheered and clapped for her and that encapsulated the spirit of the day! The Outreach is used to organizing large events like this as we support similar size crowds for the Thanksgiving and Christmas distributions. One small bottleneck occurred where the vaccinated folks are required to sit for 15 minutes in an observation area to be monitored by the EMT team. Since this was the first time many seniors were able to see their friends in person for a quick chat, they were reluctant to leave; you could see them all smiling and talking as they felt relieved they got the vaccine and thrilled to see their friends.
We also distributed 450 10-pack masks and over 500 bottles of hand sanitizer to everyone; special thanks to Felix at Berenstein Textiles and Bob Crossan for their generous mask and sanitizer donations respectively.
Special thanks to Father Bob and Tom Fiorini for standing with me in the 25 degree cold weather for 5 hours as we checked ID's, scheduled appointment times and made sure that each person had their vaccine ticket confirmation.
This initiative started back on December 28th when I contacted Rich Schaffer and Tony Martinez to see how I could get the Outreach Staff vaccinated and they provided a contact in the governor's office; the rest is now history so thank you Rich and Tony!
Back to regular business; the Outreach is open for food, winter coats, and blanket distribution.
POPE FRANCIS' HISTORIC JOURNEY TO IRAQ
Story from The Vatican News
March 16, 2021
By Massimiliano Menichetti
"For us it was like waking up from a nightmare, we could not believe our eyes, the country really can get back on its feet." These simple words summarize the hope of an entire people, the Iraqi people, who embraced the Pope from March 5 to 8. The image of this trip is captured in a snapshot in Mosul, the former capital of the so-called Islamic State, where the rubble is riddled with thousands of bullet holes; where seeing churches, houses, mosques destroyed and disfigured, one touches the violence of the fighting and the fury of man who destroys, tramples and annihilates his brother.
In that context, where horror seemed to prevail, the Pope was greeted by the singing of children waving olive branches. Others, not far from that encounter, were playing on a dirt road; asphalt remained only in the central streets. A little girl of four or five, dressed in a pink floral onesie and a pair of slippers, broke away from her group of companions and walked backwards. Unconsciously she stopped at the feet of a soldier. She looks at him, running her eyes over his entire figure, from his head to his feet.
The soldier - with the explosives on his waist, the helmet, the glasses to protect himself from the sun - bends his neck and meets the gaze of the little girl, her face dirty with earth like the rest of her body. Behind them, only the rubble of what used to be houses. Their eyes met despite those dark lenses, the man stroked the little girl on the head and lifted her up. She bursts into a smile, which he instantly reciprocates. In that image we can see the whole present and future of Iraq.
It was a memorable trip for Pope Francis, the first Pope to set foot in the land of Abraham. He encouraged and confirmed in the faith the Christian community, which together with Muslims and minorities such as the Yazidis, had experienced unspeakable suffering. It was a historic journey, bridging the gap with the Shiites after the efforts made with regard to the Sunnis in Abu Dhabi. It was historic on account of the welcome he received. But above all, it was a historic journey on account of the light of goodness and redemption he brought to a place devastated by war, violence and persecution perpetrated by ISIS, and now experiencing the scourges of poverty and the covid-19 pandemic.
What is particularly striking for someone visiting Iraq is the militarization: everywhere there were men in war gear, with thick bulletproof vests, belts with hand grenades, helmets with precision visors, and heavy weapons; along the road, tanks, armored cars, dozens of pick-up trucks with machine guns. Along the streets, just meters from those greeting the Pope with small flags and banners, unauthorized persons were held with hands behind their backs. In Baghdad, Nassirya, Ur, Mosul, Qaraqosh, Erbil, yellow and white Vatican flags were flown along walls topped with barbed wire.
Click on Vatican Flag to read entire article and other related articles at the official site of the Vatican.
To view excellent 3+ minute re-cap of the Pope's visit to Iraq, click on YouTube video, and to view full screen, click on YouTube logo after video begins.