County of Ventura Doctors:
Daniel Cox, MD, Palliative Care
Nessa Meshkaty, MD, Infectious Disease
Melissa Barger, MD, Infectious Disease
In the near future, we are going to experience a coronavirus surge here in Ventura County. We don’t know exactly what it will look like or feel like, but it will affect all of us.
Here’s what we all need to understand: this virus is dangerous. For many of us – including younger people who are indeed contracting the virus at a high rate – coronavirus will feel like a bad flu. With luck, rest, and fluids, one could ride out the fever, cough, and body aches and start to improve over a period of weeks. However, if our experience in Ventura County is similar to other areas, up to twenty percent of confirmed cases will have a different experience.
Let’s put this in perspective for our county, population ~850,000. In a worst-case scenario, 1 in 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 will progress to serious illness requiring hospitalization. One quarter of those hospitalized patients with COVID-19 will further decline to the point where they need a ventilator and life support to survive. Using an epidemiologic model recommended by the California Department of Public Health, we find that without strict social distancing, we will need 18,000 ventilators to take care of the sickest patients at the peak of the surge on day 58 of the outbreak. Yet we have only an estimated 180 ventilators across the 8 hospitals in Ventura County. Hospitals in Italy, Iran, and now New York City have been overwhelmed when the infection rate spiked, and many have died that would otherwise have had a chance at surviving.
We realize that what we are saying is difficult to hear, but we also want to be very clear. These patients are not going to remain abstract statistics. This may well be someone you love, someone you know. Nonetheless, as your community health care providers, we wish to share this message: we are here for you. We are preparing for the surge every second of every day. We will care for you. We take our responsibility to the community seriously. But you have a responsibility to our community as well. Ultimately, despite our best efforts, we cannot adequately care for a sick population that exceeds our capacity. If the rates of coronavirus spike and our county residents all need acute care simultaneously – there will not be enough beds, and many will be denied the care that we would all expect to receive, leading to loss of life.
We understand why most people struggle with the idea of sheltering in place. It imposes limits on our basic freedoms. We are social animals by nature and our joy is tied to our interpersonal connections. Layer on top of that the real need to earn a living to support our families and it can feel like an impossible ask to stay at home. And yet human interaction is the fuel that spreads this virus. Everything we do and everywhere we go – the sum of our normal activities – are like dry brush in a forest fire for coronavirus. But by staying home – when we deny the virus pathways and carriers to spread – the virus starves. Ironically, after weeks of sheltering in place, if we see that nothing much has happened – that’s when we’ll know that our sacrifice made all the difference.
So here is the good news. If we are able to sustainably reduce social contact by 60%-70% and improve testing and treatment, the aforementioned epidemiologic model suggests we could improve from that worst-case scenario of 18,000 ventilators needed on day 58 to a much more manageable peak of 475 ventilators on day 170 of the outbreak. That extra time is critical for our hospitals to build ventilator capacity and allow for the development of novel treatments. Thousands of lives would be saved. The key is sustaining the recommended reduction in social contact for that prolonged period of time.
As your physicians in Ventura County, we care deeply about our community and providing the best care possible to our patients. That is why we are asking you to honor Governor Newsom’s order to stay home. Each week that we shelter in place gives our health care system a chance to adapt and build our defenses to better prepare for the coronavirus surge. Your efforts and sacrifice now will save lives of people you know and love in the future. We thank you.
Public Information Officer
County of Ventura, CEO
This is a long one, but I have a number of important items to pass on to you. The first is that I am praying for you, for your patience, for your confidence and fearlessness, for your generosity of spirit, and for your health and safety.
The second is that I and the parish pastoral team and staff are fine. The seniors have all gone home to work from a safe place, and most of the staff do as much from home as possible, which is quite a lot. We had some confusion as our first round of responses, limiting exposure, have all been undone by subsequent instructions, eliminating exposure. Sigh.
Dominic MacAller and I are working on next week’s liturgy. Be there at 10:00 am on Sunday.
Brett Becker, our youth minister, is doing amazing things online in Zoom meetings and the like with the teens. If you have a lonely teenager twiddling her thumbs, suggest she look in on Brett’s online gatherings (firstname.lastname@example.org). Guys too!
Tere Delgado is working with her lovely team to get lessons home to all the children in faith formation, to do with their parents. This will be a team effort, parents. Do your best!
Among Teresa’s goals at this time is to keep people in ministry connected to each other. If you belong to a parish ministry that needs to meet, please contact her (email@example.com) and ask how we can help set up a Zoom meeting. It’s fairly easy, even for this 60 year old who never attended a Zoom meeting until this last week.
Among the parish ministries that deserve particular praise is St. Vincent de Paul and members of the Young Adult Ministry, who are working very creatively to take care of households in financial crisis. Now would be a very good time to consider a donation to St. Vincent de Paul!
On that point, the parish collection this last weekend was under 1/5th of what we would normally receive. I know that many people have financial stresses. If you can contribute to your parish, now would be a very good time. Checks can be mailed or online offerings can be made at: www.osvonlinegiving.com/4191
Appointments with me:
The sacrament of reconciliation / confession:
Pastoral care of the sick
(Please read even if no one in the household is sick yet)
Sunday and weekday Mass
Stations of the Cross
Holy Week and Easter
Baptisms, weddings and funerals
If you have general questions, email the parish (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the parish number (805) 482·6417 and Jane will direct your question to the right person.
In everything, we have to keep seeking those ways in which we can experience Jesus, even in a more constrained environment, and be His disciples in these troubled times.
Love from your priest,
Some of you have asked how to enter the moment of Communion, when our current circumstances make it impossible for you to receive. The centuries-long practice of making a spiritual, rather than physical, communion while sick certainly applies here. The essence of it, as St. Thomas Aquinas puts it, is to express “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in communion at Mass, and to lovingly embrace him as if we had actually received him” I have a few options for you to consider. The first, which allows you a lot of freedom to say what you need to the Lord, is good for those whose words come easy to them. Some more traditional versions give a tried and true approach for those for whom that’s helpful. Be free to do what you want here…so long as you do something at that moment.
Four worthy steps for a deep spiritual communion, to do in your own words:
A traditional spiritual communion suggested by Pope Francis (only slightly altered by me):
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire you with all my heart. Since I cannot receive you now sacramentally, I ask you to come into my heart spiritually. I embrace you as if you were already in my heart, and unite myself to you completely. Please do not ever let me be far from you. (St. Alphonse Liguori, (1696-1787)
A spiritual communion suggested by Archbishop Gomez:
I wish, my Lord, to receive you with the purity, humility, and devotion with which your most holy Mother received you, with the spirit and fervor of the saints.
The prayer (taken from Matt 8:6) in the Mass just before Communion can be enough:
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
A final suggestion from me is to pray Psalm 63, vv. 2-9:
O God, you are my God — it is you I seek!
For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts,
In a land parched, lifeless, and without water.
I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life, my lips shall ever praise you!
I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.
My soul shall be sated, as with choice food, with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!
I think of you upon my bed, I remember you through the watches of the night
You indeed are my savior and, in the shadow of your wings, I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.
So...I’m certainly having a different Lent than the one I set my mind to those days before Lent. You too? The governor’s announcement has thrown my plans for keeping the parish open into complete disarray. I accept what Gov. Newsom is hoping to accomplish (flattening that curve of infections / not overwhelming the medical personnel and facilities).
As we move into this odd Lent of restrictions on our movements, and our current inability to work and support ourselves, I remember the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Ash Wednesday: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” (Matt 6:16-17).
That has a renewed meaning for us as we deal with enforced enclosure, boredom, difficulties in shopping, loneliness etc., that we are to do it with good will, with calmness, and with a supportive attitude to others who will be having a harder time than we are.
Regarding the parish:
I will leave you these words that have been attributed to Pope Francis:
“Tonight before falling asleep, think about when we will return to the street.
When we hug again, when all the shopping together will seem like a party.
Let’s think about when the coffees will return to the bar, the small talk, the photos close to each other.
We think about when it will be all a memory, but normalcy will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift.
We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us.
Every second will be precious.
Swims at the sea, the sun until late, sunsets, toasts, laughter.
We will go back to laughing together.
Strength and courage.
See you soon!”
What challenging times!
As I hope you already know, Archbishop Gomez has waived the responsibility to attend Mass for the next three weeks, through the end of March. There may well be extensions of this decision.
I am the last person to suggest we take our liturgical obligations to God and each other lightly, but these are exceptional circumstance. We will continue to have Mass, but I ask you to consider the following concerns.
Also visit: Regarding COVID-19 at Padre Serra
Regarding COVID-19 / the current novel coronavirus and Padre Serra Parish
Dear Padre Serra Parishioners,
Many of you have sent me emails regarding COVID-19, the current coronavirus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently evaluates the risk of people living in the United States, at this time (5:30 pm on 3/6/20), as being low. That might change, but we’ll do best if we evaluate the risks calmly and act in reasonable ways.
I would like to make the following suggestions:
Sessions at Serra Center
Deep dive into Matthew
Fr. Patrick Mullen
4 Part Series
This Bible study, beginning in The University Series, and continuing in the following months, will do a close study of the text, always asking, “How can we apply the teachings of this Gospel to our lives?” Bring your bibles, an open and inquisitive mind, your love for God, and your willingness to encounter Jesus. Come to one night, or come to all!
* The original published date of March 16 date was cancelled due to a parish event.
Rekindling the Flame
Sr. Carol Quinlivin
Tuesday, March 3
The Celtic Christian motivation to find Divine in all created nature speaks with uncanny relevance to many of the concerns of our present time. The ancient wisdom, visual images, poetry, and prayers of Celtic Christian spirituality can re-ignite your imagination, restoring what you have neglected or forgotten. The stories and legends surrounding Sts. Patrick and Brigid of Kildare and their tireless evangelization can help you become a better friend to yourself and others. Come learn more about the Celtic tradition.
Where is the Pope taking the Church-now?
Tuesday, March 17
Will we have married priests? Women deacons? A Vatican bank free from scandal? A new slate of cardinals? What are we to make of the daily news from synods, papal trips, and competing factions? Hear the world’s foremost Vatican reporter and learn how to answer “What is going on in the Vatican?”
Good Grief: Telling A Thousand Stories
Dr. Ross Porter
Tuesday, March 31
It has been said that grief ends when a thousand stories are told. Because this life is filled with loss, grief is an essential part of healing and growing, and a virtue everyone needs to understand. Dr. Porter will address the “why” and the “how” of good grief.
Fr. Patrick's Picks
Teresa Runyon and Renee Ramonette
Photo by Julius Acero
Consider having an open, honest conversation with your teen about dating and appropriate relationships. Talk about what they want out of a relationship, and what their values are. Make sure they know how to communicate what they feel comfortable with, and what makes them uncomfortable. Talk with them about Catholic morals, and make sure they know you are always available.
To request a copy of the VIRTUS® article “Talking with Your Teen about Dating Safety” email email@example.com
For specific questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents, familiarize yourself with the extinguishers in your home, and teach children where they are and how to use them safely. Use the PASS trick to help remember what to do: Pull the pin, Aim at the fire’s base, Squeeze the handle, Sweep from side to side.
To request a copy of the VIRTUS article “Fire Extinguisher Tips Everyone Should Know,” email email@example.com.
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