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Brisbane Catholics pray for Victorians stuck in lockdown after coronavirus cases swell


Prayers of hope: People maintain social distancing as they attend Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: CNS

HARD lockdowns imposed across metropolitan Melbourne have prompted Brisbane Catholics to prayer as the number of active COVID-19 cases surpassed 1800 people in Victoria.

Bracken Ridge parish priest Fr Gerry Hefferen wrote and shared a prayer to Jesus on Facebook on July 10.

“We pray to you, Jesus for each of the parish communities and the gifts of hope, patience and pastoral support they offer,” one line of Fr Hefferen’s prayer read.

The full prayer can be found on Facebook.

Prayers were needed as Victoria recorded 270 more cases last Tuesday.

In lockdown areas across metropolitan Melbourne, people were under strict curfews including being unable to have visitors at their home or go to others’ homes.

On Tuesday, Queensland Health declared local government areas Liverpool and Campbelltown in New South Wales as COVID-19 hotspots after a cluster of cases erupted in Sydney.

Residents of those areas would not be allowed to travel to Queensland.

Queenslanders who have travelled to those hotspots, or travel there in the future, would be forced into hotel quarantine when re-entering the state at their own cost.

The designation change followed a cluster of cases connected to the Crossroads Hotel on the Hume Highway in south western Sydney.

More than 30 people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 from contact at the hotel.

Sydney archdiocese was observing a strict four square metre rule and was monitoring developments from NSW Health.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher likened the feeling of isolation to the Jewish people in Babylonian exile, who were unable to visit the Temple in Zion.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health restrictions have prevented our attending Mass and other celebrations in our parish communities,” Archbishop Fisher said in a pastoral statement.

“For the first time in a century, Catholics in Sydney and around the world could not gather to celebrate Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday or Corpus Christi.

“It has been inspiring to witness the creativity and collaboration of clergy and laity in response to the pandemic.”

The number of cases was expected to grow in NSW over the next few days as testing ramped up across the state.

Victorian parents were re-sharpening their pencils as they returned to teaching their children at homes across the state.

But experts were warning them not to over do it.

Australian Catholic University Victoria head of school education Dr Matthew Zbaracki, and education consultant Jane Plunkett said teachers did not expect parents to run their home like a classroom.

The educators, who have two school-aged children together, said there was a “misunderstanding about teaching at home”.

It was not about homeschooling but home learning – there was no expectation to run the kitchen table like a school.

Dr Zbaracki said the main goal of home learning was to keep children connected with their schoolwork and engaged in age-appropriate learning activities.

“These are unprecedented times for all of us, and Victoria is trying to cope with dramatic changes to its day-to-day existence,” he said.

“It’s important that we recognise that parents will facilitate learning in very different ways and that’s okay.

“When teaching children at home, parents must take the pressure off themselves.”

On the international level, COVID-19 was proving to be as much a food crisis as it was a health crisis.

Many African nations had already experienced widespread food shortages and with pandemic lockdowns added on top, conditions were set to worsen.

Organisation of African Instituted Churches general secretary Reverend Nicta Lubaale urged people to “pull together and know that we are living in a world where malnourishment has been spiking up from levels of 2015”.

“With the disruptions of COVID-19, we can see more hunger,” he said.

Coronavirus deaths have hit clergy and religious across the world too.

CNS reported a leading Bangladeshi archbishop died just weeks after apparently recovering from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Chattogram Archbishop Moses Costa died while hospitalised in Dhaka on July 13 after suffering a series of strokes.

He was 69.

Chattogram Archdiocese pastoral co-ordinator Manik Willver D’Costa said the archbishop’s death was an irreparable loss.

“Besides his extraordinary efforts in laying a strong socioeconomic foundation for the church and revolutionising the systematic reorganisation of church apparatus, he emphasised a spiritual awakening and missionary zeal for clergy, religious and laity,” he said.

“He believed that without becoming a local missionary and helping self-growth and thriving, the church has no future. He was a great visionary and there will be no one like him.”

The World Health Organisation said the United States and Brazil accounted for half of new daily COVID-19 cases.

The US and Brazil collectively reported 111,319 new cases last Sunday, roughly half of all the new cases disclosed to health authorities worldwide, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction,” he said.

“In several countries across the world, we are now seeing dangerous increases in Covid-19 cases, and hospital wards filling up again.

“It would appear that many countries are losing gains made as proven measures to reduce risk are not implemented or followed.”

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