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Magazine: A Modern Twist on Matthew 25

Members of Cristo Rey 2522 in Toledo, Ohio, volunteered at Ss. Peter and Paul Church’s COVID-19 vaccination site, serving inner city residents.

A year into the pandemic, hope arrived in the form of effective vaccines. Now that they’ve been distributed for months, the country has provided much-needed relief to Americans everywhere. That process may sound easy in theory, but the reality of distributing the vaccine turned out to be rather complex. For the people living in Toledo’s inner city who lack access to the internet and struggle with English, the process of registering for a vaccine was complicated. Cristo Rey 2522 in Toledo, Ohio, a primarily Hispanic Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) court, saw an opportunity to get community members vaccinated.

For a few weekends in March and April, members of Cristo Rey 2522 assisted those experiencing trouble registering for a vaccine. Court members went to a few different vaccine sites and helped long lines of people register.

“We recruited and promoted volunteering efforts in helping to register people for a shot,” said Agent Mark Urrutia of Toledo. “We went to vaccine centers and educated people on how to get a vaccine and protect the inner-city communities of Toledo.”

One of the realities this pandemic uncovered was the vulnerability of some communities. Cristo Rey 2522’s efforts are another example of how Feeding God’s Children (FGC) get at the root of who we are at COF.

Across the country, many people eagerly await their second shot. As of late April, Ohio has fully vaccinated over 30% of its population, while over 40% of eligible Ohioans have received one dose. When the FDA suspended the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April, millions of Americans scrambled to adjust. This made an already difficult situation even more challenging. Unfortunately, challenges that all Americans face are frequently amplified in communities in need. There is indeed a global shortage of the vaccine, so knowing how to register to get one is of utmost importance. If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that little things become massive things. For someone who doesn’t speak English or isn’t computer savvy, registering for a crucial lifesaving vaccine was an enormous undertaking.

In these times, the people on the margins of society have little outside help. Left to fend for themselves, some have felt forgotten. Cristo Rey saw this unique need in these communities and decided to provide support through their presence while leaning on their Catholic values. This reveals what makes Cristo Rey unique: their ability to take the initiative in communities. Nobody told them to help, and indeed, nobody gave them a manual on how to do what they did. Instead, they saw a need and went for it. This is an example of how powerful it is when COF members come together to carry out the mission of bringing Catholic values to life. It is the flexibility and ability to organize people at a moment’s notice which makes this undertaking that much more impressive.

Data cannot measure the true extent of the chaos this pandemic caused. Cristo Rey 2522’s involvement in the vaccine registration process was not just good for the immediate and practical care their efforts provided but also for something more valuable: hope. Cristo Rey volunteers revealed what was there all along: that the human spirit, guided by the Holy Spirit, will always prevail in the end. This pandemic and any future disasters that may come our way are no match for our shared Catholic faith.

Article by Michael Cesario

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