By Drew Bergman
This article is part of an ongoing series in The Adair Progress about how churches in the Adair County area are adapting to the social distancing restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
As each church retools its services according to its strengths each church reveals what those strengths are. For some, their ability to draw on the talent within their community. For others, it’s the adaptive use of the technical infrastructure they had in place. For the three mission parishes that comprise Southern Kentucky Catholics, it’s the very structure of the church itself.
The three parishes under Southern Kentucky Catholics are Good Shepherd in Columbia, Holy Spirit in Jamestown, and Holy Redeemer in Green County. All three parishes are ministered to by Father Joseph Thomas.
“Normally I’ll celebrate the Mass one week at one church and another week the other church and so on like that,” Fr. Thomas said. “But now the church is closed, so I am alone celebrating the Mass.”
Because of the Catholic Church’s limited presence in the area, the parishes do not even have a full-time office, so their independent outreach efforts are limited compared to other churches. Both Good Shepherd and Holy Spirit had been operating thrift stores in support of the community, but both stores closed early on in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, while the parish communities have been forced apart, they have had the leadership and support of the Archdiocese of Louisville including Catholic Charities of Louisville. The Archdiocese of Louisville is one of four dioceses in Kentucky, the governing church body for the parishes in 24 of Kentucky’s counties through the central geographic area of the state.
It is through the archdiocese’s website that area Catholics have access daily and weekly Mass or other services from over 30 churches in the archdiocese, including from the Cathedral of the Assumption, the cathedral church of the archdiocese. Also available are Spanish-languages services from Church of Annunciation in Shelbyville, St. Helen and Our Lady of the Caves in Glasgow, and St. Peter the Apostle Church in Louisville, as well as ASL-interpreted services from Epiphany Catholic Church and St. Martin de Porres of Louisville.
Catholic Churches order their church year on a liturgical calendar celebrating various holy seasons and feast days. Along with the calendar is a universal schedule of readings from the Bible meaning that no matter what Catholic Church a person attends they would have common readings from week to week, allowing them to reach out and distance-celebrate with other Catholics easier.
The archdiocese’s website also includes resources and devotionals for Catholics from across the country and world, including messages from their bishops as well as the Pope. Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville even has a podcast wherein he leads in the Rosary and invites Catholics to join in at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. Central Time.
With the larger archdiocese taking leadership and responsibility for keeping their followers together Fr. Thomas and other local priests remain available for the immediate ministry so often necessary in times like these. Fortunately, he has not yet had to field any of those calls but he still remains ready to do so.