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3 minutes reading time (676 words)

A Message Regarding COVID-19 from Director Tom East (April 22, 2020)

Dear Partners in Mission,

Thank you for your participation in Young Neighbors in Action and Just5Days Programs. Like you, our team has been dreaming, working, and planning diligently for nearly a year for these experiences of faith, mission, and service. Like you, we are now facing the reality of COVID-19 and the ways that this pandemic is altering our lives and our ministries. As we develop our summer plans, our guiding principle is to place the safety and well-being of young people and adults as our highest priority. We also recognize the need for expert scientific guidance to help drive the decision-making process for our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have reached the heart-breaking conclusion that we cannot provide our mission and service experiences as planned for Summer 2020. As part of our process, we consulted with Dr. Stephen Hawes, Chair of the Epidemiology Department at the University of Washington. He impressed upon us the challenges of bringing people from different states and communities together during this time of uncertainty. He stressed that because of the high incidence of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, at this time and until proper measures are in place, it is not possible to mitigate the risks that would allow for safe travel, shared living space, and community necessary for these faith experiences.

To provide these programs as planned, we would need to be able to guarantee the safety of each young person, adult team member, and person served in the community. Based on what we now know, it does not seem possible to provide this kind of assurance. Attached you will find additional information about our decision-making process.

At the same time, we recognize that the work of providing service to those in need and helping young disciples grow in faith is vital and urgent. This pandemic has created new needs for service and attention to people who are hungry and hurting. There is also a heightened need for the witness and inspiration of people young and old serving together in the name of Christ. So now, depending on your own reality and guidance from your local health leaders and pastoral leadership, we invite you to consider joining us in service in another way.

The Center for Ministry Development is planning to provide resources for parishes and Catholic High Schools to serve in your community this summer. We are preparing for a multi-day national event in late July or early August that will include live streaming for music, prayer, and faith sharing as a send-off and wrap-up for service in your local community.

We look forward to planning with you and your team for participation in Young Neighbors in Action and Just5Days in our Summer 2021 programs. We can transfer a credit for your 2nd payments toward next year. Please let us know If you would prefer to make this payment a donation to the Center for Ministry Development to assist in offsetting the costs of our ongoing programs.

I realize that you may have questions about this process and decision. You can email me with questions or I would also be happy to meet with by phone or Zoom. Next week, we invite you to gather with us by Zoom for an opportunity to connect, pray, and plan for our Summer 2020 transformed mission experience. If you would like to be part of this meeting or you would like to schedule a call, please send me an email with your name, preferred times, and contact number.

We ask you to join us in praying for all who are impacted by COVID-19, especially for the people who are ill and their families, and for the front-line workers who are providing care. We also ask you to pray for the young people preparing for mission experiences, for their families and leaders, for the program staff leaders, and for CMD as we continue to discern and serve.

Yours in Christ,
Tom East, Director

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