By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
ALBIA — Many older Catholics are experiencing feelings of isolation, boredom and depression as they shelter at home to avoid contracting COVID-19. That’s something Sharon Crall has observed in regular phone calls to Catholics in Monroe County. “A lot of these people are pretty social. It’s hard on them,” said Crall, pastoral associate, director of religious education and youth minister for St. Patrick Parish in Georgetown and pastoral associate at St. Mary Parish in Albia. They especially miss their faith family.
Knowing the challenges these Catholics are facing — especially those who have limited access to technology and live-streamed Masses — Crall spoke to Father Mark Yates, C.PP.S, pastor of parishes in Albia, Georgetown and Lovilia, to see if he could make social-distanced visits to older parishioners. He supported the idea and waited for a warm, sunny day to allow for outdoor chats with individual parishioners.
April 30, with a high in the mid-70s and no chance of rain, seemed like the perfect day to make the visits. Crall called everyone beforehand to see who would be interested in a visit, and then greeted households with a horn-honk. “Some people had lawn chairs outside, waiting for us.” From six feet away, Father Yates chatted with his parishioners, prayed with them and offered blessings.
Cleone Cap, a member of the Albia parish, said the visit was “a boost I have been needing badly. … Because of distance, I haven’t seen any of my children in two months and have been staying inside my house except for a few short trips for errands. I was so glad to see Father Mark.” Later, she emailed her children and told them it was a “good surprise and a very good day.”
Albia parishioner Barb Salato said it was “exceptionally great” for Father Yates and Crall to take the time to visit. “We know Father is thinking of us and realizes what we are experiencing. We are not being forgotten.”
Crall said she and Father Yates plan to make more visits to people in Albia, Georgetown and Lovilia in the coming weeks. “They can’t come to us, so we’re coming to them.”