Today, May 1, we celebrate Religious Brothers Day, an important day for our Congregation as brothers are such an integral part of our mission and ministry.
The vocation of brother often includes a sense of accompaniment, of walking with the people of God. That’s particularly difficult in these days of COVID-19, when face-to-face interactions are so restricted.
Brother Tom Bohman, C.PP.S., who is in ministry at St. James the Less Parish and School in Columbus, is trying to look into the future while at the same time taking life one day at a time. He’s been in contact with the St. James School principal throughout the crisis. “We’ve been talking about how our finances are doing, and how things might work this next year. We’re looking at different scenarios,” he said.
He credited the school’s teachers for finding new and innovative ways to teach, but kids are still kids, he said. “They are hoping for the end of the school year, and some of them aren’t turning in their homework—that much hasn’t changed,” he said.
In his parish ministry, he’s been standing in for the people of God during the livestream Masses. “I’m the person kneeling and standing in church,” he said.
He’s also been reaching out to people, calling them to let them know their parish family is still thinking of them and praying for them. “Yesterday I called a World War II vet who’s 94. I said, ‘We have a lot of people praying for you,’” Br. Tom said. “He said, ‘Who’s we?’”
Brother Tom misses the people who are involved with the parish’s RCIA program, which is suspended indefinitely like most RCIA programs. He regrets that First Communion for the parish’s second-graders has also been postponed. “This weekend (April 25–26), we would have had our First Communion retreat and practice and confessions, then they would have had their First Communion on May 2,” he said. “There are a lot of changes going on; everybody’s doing what they can do to get through this. It’s a better situation when we’re all together.”
He wonders how many of the changes will turn out to be permanent, and how life will change due to the pandemic. Not all of the changes are bad, he said. “I’d like to think that when this is over, I’ll be a little bit less about being on-task, and I’ll be more of a person who is willing to reach out to help somebody, to stop what I’m doing when someone needs me. We may all be different people when this is over.”