The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to live with restrictions on large gatherings that have kept them from their churches.
But Jeanne Gower refused to let the pandemic stop the traditional May Crowning at her church, St. Michael in rural Robertson County, the oldest active Catholic Church in Tennessee.
“It’s something we do every year there,” said Gower. “I just couldn’t stand that we couldn’t.”
So she, her husband Pat and their son Jonathon, the organist at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Springfield, went to St. Michael, decorated the statue of Mary with flowers, and recorded a video of the scene.
The video shows Mary wearing her crown of flowers and scenes from an empty St. Michael Church while Jonathon sings “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother.” (To see the video, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lvg7kxoQHI)
Jeanne Gower sent the video to the parishioners of St. Michael, where she has been a parishioner for more than 35 years, and and to members of Our Lady of Lourdes.
“The comments I got have been unreal,” she said. “It touched a lot of people. … This is what people are hungry to see again.”
Events like the May Crowning are important “for me personally and for the parish,” Gower said.
“I think Jesus Christ left us outward signs of our faith” in the sacraments and in familiar prayers and devotions, Gower said. “In times like this it can be a reminder (from Jesus) that ‘I’m still here. I’m on your side.’”
Gower, whose father was Deacon Kelly Sharbel, has been relying on her faith to help her persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Faith does not make us not scared but gives us courage,” Gower said. Although she is anxious that she or a loved one might be infected by the virus, “My faith tells me tomorrow’s OK.”
“If I get sick, I’ll have the power to get through it, and if I don’t get through it, I’ll be on the other side with my Creator.”