By Katie Beckmann Mahon, Communications Manager
“The eyes of God in the time of COVID”
Peggy Roach, an Associate of the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, has described the past seven months as “life-changing.”
After being “verbally diagnosed” with COVID-19 in the pandemic's early days, Peggy experienced an elevated level of angst.
Being in New York City during the most challenging days of the pandemic, it was discouraged going to the hospital or even a visit to the Doctor’s office, unless “you were in severe distress.”
“I remained home with my symptoms and didn’t get tested until the end of April. By then, the virus had left my body, and I tested negative,” shared Peggy, the Dean of Students of Saint Raymond Academy for Girls in the Bronx.
“All I knew for sure was that I was extremely sick and weak for many weeks. Fortunately, I was home from work, so I could take care and slowly regain my strength. Today, all that’s left is some fatigue and body ache on occasion. I feel very fortunate considering my age and other factors.”
Peggy’s own experience with COVID-19 has made her “much more compassionate and understanding of others’ struggles.
She elaborated, “We have been traumatized by this pandemic in so many ways – too many to count. Its tentacles have been far-reaching in touching every aspect of our lives.”
One of the aspects of Peggy’s life that has significantly been affected has been her ministry.
“Teaching methods have changed, the discipline has changed, and day-to-day interaction with the students has changed. Discipline has taken a back seat to safety protocols. I’ve had to change my focus and, in so doing, allow minor behavior infractions to go unnoticed. More importantly, mask-wearing and keeping a safe distance from one another has become paramount.”
One of the most significant changes that Peggy has experienced in her ministry has been the interactions with her students.
“Because of mask-wearing, most interactions with the students are faceless and nameless. All I see are the students’ eyes. So many eyes, expressing so much emotion! I never realized how much emotion can come from our eyes. So, there is nameless, faceless sadness, pain, fear, tiredness, laughter, surprise, confusion, and so on. Necessity has caused discipline to morph into something else. Correction has lost its place. Now, I find it is more important to provide kindness, patience, support, and encouragement. Eyes say a lot right now, and I hope mine are conveying the right message. Words, which sometimes cannot be deciphered through our masks, have become secondary to the message in our eyes.”
As Peggy and others at her ministry continue to navigate through these turbulent times, she hopes that others can develop a sense of empathy and faith in each other, especially when it comes to sharing our own experiences with COVID-19.
"Pain is personal, and there are all kinds of pain related to COVID-19, even the unverifiable kind. Your woes may be financial, while mine may be emotional or physical, so let’s be compassionate, kind, and understanding to all, regardless of proof of need. Jesus gave freely where there was pain. Let us be the eyes of Jesus, providing comfort as we minister to each other and to those we serve in our ministries.”