Goan Chaplaincy Contact Magazine June 2020


My dear people,

It is with deep love and concern that I am writing to you. I know that the whole world is gripped with fear and uncertainty caused by Covid-19. All of us, except the key workers are forced to be indoors as the world is struggling to keep away from the deadly Corona Virus. As of today, 10th of June 2020, 418,122 persons have fallen prey to Covid-19 and the United Kingdom alone has lost 41,128 persons. Exactly 10% of the world statistics.

It is heart-breaking to imagine one of our own family members contracting the virus and dying of it. It is worse to think of our own dear ones being isolated having no one around to take care of and to be with. It is still worse when the whole family tests positive for the virus. It is unimaginable to even think of such a situation. Current reports tell us that the elderly and people with morbidities are more likely to contract the disease.

It is really sad to say that over 35 persons of our own Goan community died of Covid-19 in the UK. We pray that God may grant Eternal bliss to every one of them. We pray that the Almighty God console the families of the dead.

I have heard, some say that the cause of the outbreak of the virus is – God’s punishment for the sins of the humanity. True, there is no doubt that the humanity has sinned and gone away from God individually and as whole humanity. But surely, our loving God will never ever punish us for our iniquities. God knows that we have sinned in our personal lives, hurt our neighbour, we have sinned against God by worshiping Gods of our own making, and we have not taken care of God’s creation by being too greedy by feeding ourselves beyond limits on the natural resources of our World. In a way we can say that Covid-19, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, storms and earthquakes and other natural and manmade disasters are cause of our selfishness and greed.

Thousands have lost their  lives to Covid-19 , it has brought to stand-still the whole of the economic activity, leading to unemployment, poverty and homelessness, etc. but at the same time lockdown has brought in so much goodness to individuals and in the world. It has reduced considerable amount of pollution all over as a result of non-functioning of the industries and all modes of transport and thus adding to the enhancement of ecology and biodiversity. It has made the family members give time and love to one another thus building up relationships among themselves. It has made people pray more than ever before, bringing them into deeper union and closeness to their God. May this experience of Covid-19 bring us ever closer to God and to one another like never before.

Dear readers, we apologise to you for having not been able to send you the March edition of ‘Contact’. We assure you that in this and the following editions, we will try our best to make up for what we have not been able to.

In this edition, Paulo Dias reflects with the message of Fatima amidst pandemics – Spanish flu and Covid-19.

Dr. Bernadette Pereira in her article on Corona Virus makes us understand what this virus is? She updates us on the medicine and the vaccine for the virus. She also recommends some ways and means to protect ourselves against infection by further spread of the virus.

Elliot Bocarro’s interview with Fr. Philip Pak, the Hospital Chaplain at St. Heliers, London brings out how important, challenging, and joyful it is to be a Hospital Chaplain.

Dr. Fiona Pereira opens to us the lives of two Saints martyred in Wuhan – St. Francis Regis Clet & St John Gabriel Perboyre – both of them were strangulated. While, St Francis Regis Clet was martyred in 1820, St John Gabriel Perboyre was martyred in 1840. These martyrs seem to be the best intercessors since they suffered death out of asphyxiation.

Lauren, Cyril and Jennifer Da Silva narrate their family’s experience during Covid-19 lockdown. Ivone Fernandes reflects on her personal experience of longing to listen to and share the word and to the breaking of the bread as a faith community.

Our youngsters Larissa, Leonardo, Ian, Louise, throw light on how the pandemic has affected their education, the implications, and their lives in general.

We have been live-streaming the week-end mass via St. Boniface tooting YouTube channel. My sincere thanks to Fr. Shaju, the parish priest of St. Boniface Tooting for providing us with the facility to celebrate and live-stream our weekly Konkani mass and our choir members who have given their time and talents added joy to the celebration.

My sincere thanks to the Goan Association for having reached out to our Goan brethren by providing food provisions to those of us who found it difficult as many of them were out of employment. My sincere thanks to Goan Welfare Society under the leadership of Mr Flavio Gracias who assisted and helped the families to organise funerals or cremations of those who died.

As Covid-19 cases in Goa are on the rise, we pray for our Golden Goa and the whole world that God Almighty may have mercy on us and take this evil away from us. We intercede for Goa, our Mother India and the whole world through the intercession of Our Lady, and our patrons.


Fr. Patrick Goan Chaplain UK


Dr Bernadette Pereira

London. UK

The Coronavirus Pandemic.

“This was to fulfil what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” -Matthew 8:17

In Nov 2019 there was a cluster of pneumonia cases in China. Investigations found that it was caused by a previously unknown virus now named as the 2019 novel Coronavirus or Covid-19. In this article we will take a quick tour at what is currently known about the virus, the science bit, keeping in mind that this is a new virus and what is known about the virus now, might change in the future, as scientists race against time to gather more information. We also will throw light on how this has affected our lifestyles and how we can look to the future.

BACKGROUND Corona viruses are a large group of viruses, common across the world. They consist of a core of genetic material surrounded by an envelope with protein spikes which gives it the appearance of a crown and in Latin is called Corona which gives these viruses their name.

There are different types of Corona viruses that cause respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. Respiratory disease can range from a common cold to pneumonia and in most people the symptoms tend to be mild. However, these can cause severe disease which include:

  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) the Coronavirus first identified in China in 2003.
  • Middle East Respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Where did the virus come from?

This Novel 2019 Coronavirus (Covid-19) was first identified in China. It initially occurred in a group of people with pneumonia who had been associated with seafood and live animal market in the city of Wuhan. The disease has since spread from those who were sick to others including family members and health care workers.

It is known that Coronaviruses circulate in a range of animals. Sometimes these viruses can make the jump from animals to humans. This is called a ‘spillover’ and could be due to a range of factors such as mutations in the virus or increase contact between humans and animals: for example, MERS-CoV is known to be transmitted from camels and SARS-CoV from Civet cats. The animal reservoir of the Novel 2019 Coronavirus is not known yet.

How is it transmitted?

In general, respiratory viruses are usually transmitted through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes or through something that has been contaminated with the virus. People most at risk of infection from the Covid-19 virus are those who are caring for people infected with the virus such as family members or healthcare workers.

How does the disease present?

Well from what is known so far there can be several symptoms ranging from mild to severe. They can be:

  • High fever
  • respiratory symptoms such as new continuous cough, shortness of breath
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • in more severe cases: pneumonia ,
  • kidney failure and
  • death.

Generally, Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune system, older people, and those with long term conditions like Diabetes, Cancer and Chronic Lung Disease.

The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild. Those who have died in Wuhan appear to have had pre-existing health conditions. A recent Public Health England report has found that people from Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups are dying disproportionately from Covid-19 than those from White British backgrounds. The report still needs further clarifications as to the reasons why.

How can we tell whether someone is infected?

Currently there are 2 tests available.

PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction Test (Antigen test):

It tells you if you are currently having the infection. This test identifies the virus, based on its genetic fingerprint. This entails taking a swab from your mouth and nose.

Antibody testing:

A positive antibody test will tell you if you have previously had the Covid-19 and that your body has produced an immune response. However, if you receive a positive antibody result it does not mean that you are immune or that you cannot pass on the virus to others. It also does not mean that you can ignore social distancing measures. This is a blood test.


There is currently no specific medication for the virus and the treatment is supportive care aiming to relieve symptoms while your body fights the illness. Antibiotics do not help as they do not work against viruses.

The Department of Health and Social Care has approved Remdesivir, an antiviral drug and made it available on the NHS. It is currently a part of clinical trials worldwide including the UK with current data showing that it can shorten recovery time by approximately 4 days. Although Remdesivir may aid recovery and possibly stop people having to be treated in intensive care, the trials did not give any clear indication whether it can prevent deaths from Coronavirus. There is no clinical evidence yet that Hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent Covid-19

When will we have a coronavirus vaccine?

Research is happening at breakneck speed.  About 80 groups around the world are researching vaccines and some are now entering clinical trials.

A vaccine would normally take years, if not decades, to develop. Researchers hope to achieve the same amount of work in only a few months. Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become available by mid-2021, about 12-18 months after the new virus, known officially as Sars-CoV-2, first emerged. That would be a huge scientific feat and there are no guarantees it will work.

Four coronaviruses already circulate in human beings. They cause common cold symptoms and we don’t have vaccines for any of them.

How do we prevent transmission of the virus?

Coronavirus has become a full-blown pandemic with most countries being affected some more than the others. Once thing is noticeably clear that the Lockdown measures and Social distancing has greatly helped to control the transmission of the virus. I cannot stress enough that the basic hygiene rules and social distance measures advised by the Government and Health professionals should be strictly followed in order to prevent a “second wave”. It is entirely up to each one of us to follow this guidance and most of us have been doing a marvellous job so far.

The following are the several standard hygiene practices that have been recommended to protect against infection and further spread. These include:

  • stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with when outside your home
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
    use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • wear something that covers your nose and mouth such as masks when it is hard to stay away from people, such as in shops or on public transport. This is now being made compulsory by the Government in the UK from 15th June 2020
  • do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean

As the Governments of the World ease Lockdown measures, UK has started the Test, Trace and Isolate scheme where you will be contacted if you have been tested positive or in contact with a Covid-19 positive person and asked to self-isolate for 2weeks. So instead of the whole country being in Lockdown, only pockets where the virus is more prevalent will have to isolate. Anyone who develops symptoms can ask for a test to check if they have the virus and book a test online or through your GP in the UK.


The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted on everyone’s daily lives, as the Government and NHS take necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention. It may be difficult, but by following guidance on social distancing, staying at home, you are protecting yourself, your family the NHS and your community. We have to start getting used to the “new normal”. Find ways and means to adapt to the new lifestyle. Undoubtedly you will get bored, frustrated, anxious about your health and those close to you. It is important that you take care of your mind and body and to get further support if you need it. We are all in this together…

Here are some websites that you can visit for further information and support:




“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand”.            – Isaiah 41:10