As the pandemic passes the one-year mark and continues to stretch into 2021, a profound side-effect has emerged: isolation.
The experience not only leaves people separated from each other through illness, social distancing and quarantining, but often leaves them, “wondering where God is,” writes Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in his new release: “‘Behold, I Am with You Always,’ A Pastoral Letter on the Presence of God.”
The title of the letter is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 28:20, which reads, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of time.” Formally issued Feb. 22, 2021 on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the pastoral letter was published March 1 across diocesan media as a written text and podcast in both English and Spanish. It was also sent to all parishes and schools for distribution in their local communities.
In this, his third pastoral letter as 10th Bishop of Trenton, Bishop O’Connell addresses the painful reality of separation and loneliness, offering guidance to the faithful for developing the assurance of faith and recovering a sense of the presence of God.
The Bishop also remembers those for whom “social distancing has been their way of life for a long time and not by choice: “… The poor, the outcast, the bullied, the marginalized, those living alone, ‘quarantined’ for whatever the reason. Social distance and isolation are sentences imposed by society upon them, without parole. … We must not forget them.”