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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Rosales

Finding Hope Through My Faith

Published for Amid Mag

Reconnecting with my religion helped me cope with this chaotic moment


The pandemic has taken away so many things in my life: my last semester of college, a summer with my family back in the Philippines, a proper graduation, and more.

But, recently I’ve tried to get back one aspect of my life that COVID-19 took from me: my religion.

image: Reggie Onorati

Being a devout Catholic is a part of who I am. I went to an all-girls catholic school my whole life. Sundays were spent at church with my family, then at the mall for lunch and a movie. However, that changed when I moved to Boston for college. The distance from my home country all these years made it challenging for me to keep up with my faith. And, COVID-19 especially put a dent in it.

Last March, I had just returned from a service trip with my college’s Catholic student organization when they announced school was transitioning online. Fueled with fears of the unknown, I decided to stop by St. Anthony’s Shrine. I needed some form of peace and quiet. To my distress, I saw a solemn note on the door that the church was closed indefinitely.

Months passed and my mental health took a toll. I stopped exercising and drank a little more than I should have. I decided to get help by seeing a therapist. Still, I was barely hanging on to any hope I had for myself or the future.

For some reason, when I was at my lowest of lows, when I had no sense of the world, I thought: who is the one person who still has faith? As cliche as it sounds, I thought of God. I just had to reach out to him. Maybe what I was missing is his comfort—the comfort of my religion.

image: Reggie Onorati

Pre-COVID, it was as easy as going inside the church or going to mass again. I couldn’t exactly do that in the middle of a pandemic. So I posted on the Filipinos in Massachusetts Facebook group asking for some resources. Everybody was excited to see someone at my age reach out. I received invitations to different churches, ones that weren’t even Catholic.

The first virtual mass I went to was a Filipino mass hosted by Boston College. Up at 11 a.m. on a Sunday in my pajamas, I joined the Zoom call then immediately turned off my video and microphone. The number of participants grew to 90, and although I didn’t know a single person, I was already moved. I couldn’t believe there were 98 Filipinos, from the U.S. and Philippines, who all came together to pray. I was alone in my living room, but I felt comfort in the virtual congregation.

When the mass started, I was surprised at how big of a Zoom production everything was. The gospel missalettes were uploaded on the chat room. There was a technical support team who played videos of the choir right on cue. Each person filmed themselves, earphones on, and their videos were put together — combining all the children and adult voices into a new virtual choir.

When the titles of the songs came up, songs that I grew up singing at church, that I haven’t sang in years, I was already so excited to sing. When I sang Ama Namin, (Filipino version of The Lord’s Prayer), my voice cracked and tears streamed down my face. I prayed the hardest I ever could when they read prayers for frontliners, the sick, the ones who’ve gone too soon, the state of the world, the Philippine government, Filipino journalists, and more. With a box of tissues on my side, I cried throughout the whole one-hour service.

image: Reggie Onorati

Before, my days were spent doom scrolling, crying over the unknown and feeling so helpless. Once the mass was over, I suddenly felt at peace. It may not seem much, but praying and asking for help felt like progress to me.

I came back the week after, and the week after that. I intend to go back every Sunday.

My outlook changed since I started going to mass. I suddenly felt like I had hope by my side. Someone was looking out for me. I started applying to jobs again and even asked my mother to pray the rosary during the job interview process.

My rekindled faith made me realize that all I can do is simply pray that everything will be okay and trust in God’s plan. In a world where there’s so much we can’t do, just the fact I could pray and shout my concerns to the universe gives me peace.

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