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Life in Rome and the Oblate General House During the Covid-19 Virus March 23rd, 2020
By Fr. Salvador González, OMI
Fr. González ministers at King’s House Retreat and Renewal Center in Belleville, IL
Oblate Fr. Fernando Velazquez, OMI, is an Oblate from the US Province studying in Rome on his doctoral degree in Missiology. Together with the whole community of the General House in Rome, Fr. Fernando is experiencing first-hand the consequences of the Corvid-19 virus. Fr. Fernando and I have been friends since 1994. I got to know him when I was in the pre-novitiate program in Tijuana, and Fernando was a young man who would visit the house of formation as part of the affiliate group we had in Mexicali, B.C. Upon hearing of the drastic measures put in place by the Italian government that included home confinement, I called Fr. Fernando on Wednesday March 11, 2020, to see how he was doing and I want to share some of our conversation with you all.
The Corvid-19 virus has quickly changed the way we live here in the United States but the measures are not yet as stringent as they are in Italy. In the city of Rome and all of Italy, residents are confined to their homes. Residents are only allowed to leave to get food from grocery stores or medicine from pharmacies. Checkpoints are placed throughout the city to make sure residents follow the instructions. Police are present to verify that people on the street are only visiting authorized places. Fr. Fernando tells me that the closest police check point for their neighborhood is at the famous small chapel of the Madonna del Riposo, which is well known to any visitor to the General House.