Works of Mercy ministry continues despite virus complications

Liz Boudreaux

Staff Writer

COVID-19 has affected us all, and some more than others. However, the struggles of coronavirus have opened the door to charity.

Jacob Bowers, the coordinator of Works of Mercy, spoke on the effects that the coronavirus has had on his department.

The Works of Mercy office had to make immediate changes during the coronavirus shutdown. Initially, these were transportation changes. More busses are required to shuttle students while keeping them socially distanced, and masks are required in every ministry.

The most negative effect has been in the ministry to the elderly, Bowers said. The nursing homes are no longer open for visiting, and many high-risk elderly people also suffer the depression of loneliness.

Prudently working for the safety of the elderly, Works of Mercy instituted rosaries to be said in place of the weekly visits.

“Just pray for the local people,” Bowers said.

He encouraged students to take 20 simple minutes to pray a rosary for the elderly isolated in their nursing homes.

Rosaries are also being prayed for the families of Students Serving Moms, another remote ministry, Bowers said.

However, for the ministries that are able to continue in person, COVID-19 has opened new opportunities to aid the local people.

“People need help now more than ever,” Bowers said. The coronavirus has caused many low-income workers to lose their jobs all-together. Many families in Steubenville struggle to put food on the table each day.

Urban Mission works to solve this disaster.

“This is the first time we’ve worked with them at such a large capacity,” Bowers said. “That actually started because of COVID.”

In this unpredictable time, Bowers raises awareness for an essential work of mercy. Urban Mission provides and distributes food for the local people, giving them constant aid in a time of uncertainty.

Another flourishing ministry is Encounter Steubenville. Encounter Steubenville is a “door-to-door ministry in LaBelle,” which can also be described as a relational ministry.

“It’s more for the sake of the residents,” Bowers said.

Each week in this ministry, students reach out to the local people simply to talk with them in Christian kindness. This is an important and effective way to keep hope alive in an age of despair, Bowers said.

COVID-19 has disrupted the Works of Mercy department, but it has been riding the waves. Bowers is looking forward to the end of the virus, saying, “Next year we’ll just reestablish.”

He is even hoping to encounter nursing home residents again before the end of the year.

In the meantime, Bowers said, “We have an active ministry going out almost every day.”

He said students should reach out to the Works of Mercy department with any questions and to find the ministry best suited for them individually.

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