(WXYZ) — The Advent season celebrating the preparation for the birth of Jesus will look different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a large impact on the Catholic Church already this year.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron, the leader of southeastern Michigan's 1.3 million Catholics joins us for a discussion of Advent in tonight's 7 UpFront report.
You can see the full interview in the video player above.
"It's a Christmas like none of us has experienced before," Vigneron says. "And it's an opportunity, then, to call on God's help and to help one another to keep one another encouraged and keep our hopes up."
"What we're really tried to do is responds on two levels," he says of the pandemic. "One, on the level of spiritual need, and the other material need. And very early on we were able to use electronic media in order to have people be engaged in prayer, even though they were still at home. That's been very important. And, of course, now that we can, though the numbers are limited, have people back in church, we're seeing people appreciate that all the more."
"In terms of material response, this is hitting people very, very hard," Vigneron says. "I see all the data in the media about the increase in people going to food banks, we're experiencing that ourselves, and I'm very grateful for the way so many communities and so many people have responded."
"There is just one thing that we need to be in touch with, which is our natural resiliency as the American people, and then beyond that, there is the gift of grace, which we who are disciples of Jesus bring to our community," he says. "We have confidence God is with us, he'll give us strength, he'll reinforce our optimism and turn it into hope."
"My message is that even in the trial there can be a grace, perhaps the grace of new bonds, the grace of finding a new way to connect with people. God's with us and he's never going away again," Vigneron says.