Much of the success in China’s controlling the Covid virus was due to local communities taking responsibility. Volunteers manned roadblocks and prevented strangers from entering into their village or estate.
In the countryside this enabled life to go on almost as normal after an initial one month of strict confinement to homes. Once that ban to movement was lifted people could do business as usual within their own village or district, safe from outside threats.
In certain parts of the Chinese countryside the proportion of Catholics is so high that they are known as ‘Catholic Villages.’ Their population could be from 3,000 to 6,000. These villages have a similar sense of autonomy and responsibility. Despite national programs to eradicate religion, they continue to gather for morning prayers (at 5.00 am!) and again for evening prayer.
Even though a priest, when available, only visits them once a week or a month they themselves continue to instruct their young in the faith and gather to celebrate. These are the communities which produced a new generation of priests and Sisters, keeping their beliefs and hopes alive.
Because they are in the countryside these communities may be expected to be old fashioned and conservative but in fact they are using the latest technology and social media to share and develop their faith. They use the media to discuss the new challenge facing them and look for ways of responding.
The creation of such communities in Ireland would not only help create safe ‘bubbles’ in which people could return to normal life but be a solution to the challenges of passing on the values of faith from one Irish generation to the next.