AFRICA/KENYA - Covid 19 pandemic: effects on the physical and mental health of religious

Friday, 6 August 2021 consecrated life   psychological counseling   coronavirus  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "The Covid-19 has affected the physical and mental health of religious, so we need to take care of their psychological well-being after some of them experience particular stress that can lead to traumatic experiences", said Fr. Marcellin Ouédraogo, diocesan priest of Burkina Faso, during a webinar hosted by the Association of Bishops' Conferences of East Africa (AMECEA).
"Covid-19 affects not only physical health, our psychological well-being, our social life and ecclesial commitments, but also our spiritual life", said Fr. Ouédraogo.
"The suspension of religious activities in the congregation, communion or assembly, which is the very essence of expressing one's spirituality in a religious sense, is a life-changing experience for many religious".
According to Fr. Ouédraogo, “Pastors, imams, rabbis and other religious leaders find the experiences and regulations of the pandemic unpleasant, as they directly affect their duties of care, their responsibilities and their livelihood just like many others in the workforce from which they depend".
The pandemic that led to isolation, lockdown, quarantine and the imposition of a curfew in some situations "may affect and condition our relationships as members of the community and lead to trauma and disorientation", said Fr. Ouedraogo.
The Catholic priest therefore called on religious to take care of their mental, social and spiritual health by "avoiding loneliness and boredom, occupying themselves and using time for fellowship and exchange with others in order to receive spiritual support".
During his address to dozens of consecrated persons from various countries, Fr. Ouédraogo, who is currently studying psycho-spiritual counseling at Kenya's Marist International University College, encouraged support and assistance of lay people, religious and the clergy.
According to AMECEA coordinator Fr. Paul Mung'athia Igweta, who convened the virtual conference on "Psychosocial well-being and psycho-spiritual counseling for clergy and religious in the midst of the Covid crisis", the series of conferences organized with the support of the Catholic Agency for Development abroad (CAFOD) are intended to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on religious and clergy, but also to equip them with knowledge so that they too can support others who face the same challenges. . "We hope that after these talks about psychosocial and spiritual care the religious and clergy will be able to educate other people about their well-being", concluded Fr. Igweta. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/8/2021)