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Pandemic Blessings: Echoes from three years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic

Rev. Ali Jablonsky, '14

Friday, March 13, 2020, was the last day of "routine" operations on the Cardinal Stritch University campus. Faculty, staff and students were making preparations to transition all courses to online learning; residential students who lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota were asked to make plans to return to their homes; all Stritch events were postponed or canceled; only essential staff were required to work from campus; reminders about steps for staying healthy were shared in every communication to the Stritch community.

The University's response to the pandemic was rooted in the Franciscan values that define Stritch - showing compassion, making peace, reverencing all of creation and creating a caring community. As people left campus, they wondered when they would be able to return, how their lives would change, how Stritch would change, how the world would change.

Countless members of the Stritch family have provided critical care and services over the last three years as we were faced with dealing with COVID. Stritch alumni serve as healthcare workers on the front line, educators in virtual and in-person classrooms, therapists helping people cope with the global pandemic, leaders of nonprofit organizations making sure they are available for those in need, business leaders ensuring their companies remain productive.

In April 2020, alumna Rev. Ali Jablonsky, '14, gave an inside look at how she addressed COVID through her work as a hospital chaplain.

Rev. Jablonsky, who is the Director of Spiritual Care at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, shares these blessings with her Stritch family as we mark three years since our lives and world changed:

Pandemic Blessings:
Echoes from three years of living
through the COVID-19 pandemic

Blessed are you who have died in these last three years and never saw life beyond the pandemic; your histories are so much richer than this unprecedented time.

Blessed are you whose physical symptoms have outlived your virus. You who are forced into a marathon—we will not get tired of you or for you as you stay the long course.

Blessed are you who have been infected and have physically healed. Blessed is your recovery.

Blessed are you who have not been infected, you who worry about the what will be. Blessed is your unknown, blessed be your health.

Blessed are you whose care has been changed or delayed in this time. Blessed be your anger, blessed be your frustration, blessed be your healing.

Blessed are you who have missed milestones. You who marry, you who bear children, you who graduate, you who mourn, you who celebrate. Blessed are your milestones and blessed be what is changed and what is lost.

Blessed are you who are children. Blessed are you who grow up in times of fear and in times of conflict. Bless the wounds that have been inflicted so early. Bless your learning. Bless your growing. Bless and illuminate your future.

Blessed are you who are physically or emotionally at risk. Bless your vulnerabilities and your exhaustion. Bless the hypervigilance you are forced to have and bless your lives with patience, understanding, and protection.

Bless you who have found healing for your mental health injuries. Bless your injuries. Bless your memories. Bless your efforts. Bless your healing. Bless you.

Bless you whose mental health is inflamed. Bless you who live in fear. Bless you who cannot find hope. Bless your searching. Bless your agony. Bless your darkness. Bless you. Hold on.

Bless you who have returned, who are returning. Bless your persistence.

Bless you who build anew. Bless you who imagine better, who plan for better. Bless your hope.

Bless you who have helped. Bless your compassion.

Bless you who have been helped. Bless your courage.

Bless you who are living now. Bless you. Bless you. Bless you.

-Rev. Ali Jablonsky