March 2020 – Executive Director’s Reflections & News from El Salvador

Ordinary Time

Catholics will be familiar with the term, “Ordinary Time”.  It refers to times within the Church’s annual liturgical cycle when there is no focus on a particular feast (such as Christmas).  Rather, it is a celebration of our life with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each other in the Church, in its fullness.  This has not been ordinary time.  Lent began with Ash Wednesday, February 26th, this year, at about the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed everything else. Though there have been no cases of COVID-19 at COAR, to comply with El Salvador’s stay-at-home orders, our Director, Marta, and a handful of the staff moved in to live with the children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  What have they done? They have drawn strength from the example of St. Romero’s life and death (March 24th), the traditions of communion (Jesus’ Palm Sunday reception in Jerusalem and his Last Supper at Passover), facing the human condition that includes fear, injustice, and suffering (the Way of the Cross every Friday), and finally, the miracle of the resurrection at Easter.  That resurrection celebration lasts eight weeks, until Pentecost, May 31st. Thanks to your faithful support of the children, we have faith that they will be restored to ordinary time, life in its fullness, healthy in body, mind, and soul, by June. Thank you.

News from El Salvador

The news from El Salvador during this pandemic is similar to everywhere else.  By late February the government began taking actions to restrict entry to the country to all but returning Salvadorans, closed all schools and non-essential work and businesses, and issued stay-at-home orders.  As of Easter there were 137 reported cases with 6 deaths. The good news is that El Salvador is a young country, median age 28 years old, and has a good, if basic, public health system. The bad news is that the economy will take a tremendous hit with the government unable to compensate lost businesses and jobs.  Most observers of El Salvador’s history hope that the government will not use this crisis to return to oppressive political rule with excessive use of the military. Time will tell if lessons learned from the past will be forgotten, or remembered.