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Melbourne Catholics caught in surge of new COVID-19 cases, 500,000 now dead globally

Testing time: A nurse tests a patient for COVID-19. There has been an upswell in community transmission moved through 10 hotspots in Melbourne’s suburbs in the last two weeks. Photo: CNS

MELBOURNE Catholic Vivien Dolar watched with unease as an upswell in COVID-19 community transmission moved through 10 hotspots in Melbourne’s suburbs in the last two weeks, with acquaintances door-knocked for testing and rapid lockdowns on nearby suburbs.

Miss Dolar, who was The Catholic Leader’s 2019 Young Leader of the Year, lives only 10 minutes away from some of the hotspot areas.

“It’s all definitely hitting close to home,” Miss Dolar said.

The number of cases in Victoria jumped by 71 last Monday alone.

Melbourne parishes had expected to increase the numbers at their Masses to 50 people by June 22, but the uptick in cases meant those plans were revoked and numbers would remain at 20 people.

Even with the continued restrictions on Mass, Miss Dolar was tending to her faith.

“I recognise the grace that is in it in the invitation to choose to make Christ part of your day, your life, this new ‘normal’ – and really claim your faith and your relationship with Christ for yourself,” she said.

And being able to tune into virtual Masses brought freedom to choose and even to watch Masses celebrated by priest friends of hers.

Overseas more than one million global COVID- 19 cases were reported by John Hopkins University in under seven days in June.

In total, COVID-19 has infected more than 10 million people and killed half a million people globally, and the World Health Organisation warned the “worst is yet to come”.

The US, which had the most infections of any country, surpassed 110,000 deaths.

Brazil, a close second to the US, counted 1.3 million cases and 58,000 deaths at time of publication.

Spirituality: “A group of my old youth group friends started getting together every month pre-COVID for fellowship and bible study, which we continued via Zoom a few times.”

In Melbourne, Miss Dolar said she and her friends had reflected on how much of a stripping back the lockdown had been.

“One of my friends usually walks around the neighbourhood with her kids and noticed how different these times were seeing so many families and especially fathers being able to be with their kids more during the day,” she said.

“A group of my old youth group friends started getting together every month pre-COVID for fellowship and bible study, which we continued via Zoom a few times.

“We also would pray rosaries together via Zoom twice a week for the first few months – definitely was special being able to pray and connect with each other while in isolation.

“With restrictions easing last month, we were able to get one physical gathering in which was lovely.”

But with a second spike in cases, Miss Dolar (pictured) said her group may have to go back to Zoom temporarily.

For now, she continued to work from home and her study, a Masters in spiritual direction at the Jesuit College of Spirituality, continued online.

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