Life in time of coronavirus is not easy for anyone, least of all for the Filipino priests studying in Italy, one of the hardest-hit in the world.
While some priests residing at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome have returned to the Philippines recently, classes carry on for most of them.
Fr. Gregory Gaston, PCF Rector, said that the priest-students are taking part in online classes since lockdown forced universities to shutdown.
“Our online classes continue. We are on our last month because June is the exam period and the end of the second semester,” Gaston said.
There are at least 35 Filipino priests at the Collegio but five of them decided to return to the Philippines amid the pandemic.
Three priests had gone home as early as March and two others joined the repatriation flight from Milan to Manila on April 28.
“It’s normal for some to go home for different reasons but majority have remained with us here,” Gaston said.
Some universities in Rome have already laid their plans to finish the current semester and for the next academic year.
The Pontifical Gregorian University, for instance, continued doing online classes including exams. It is set to open the next school year in October depending on the gravity of the situation.
Meanwhile, the Pontifical Urban University, wherein Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is the grand chancellor, will not open for the next academic year.
Also called the Urbaniana, the university is administered by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples that Cardinal Tagle now heads.
The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross is also doing classes virtually.
Aside from the Filipino priests, the PCF is also a home to at least 15 priest-students from different countries.
Although he has his residence at the Congregation, Cardinal Tagle has been staying at the Collegio since his arrival in Rome in February. He travels to his office at Piazza Spagna daily despite the pandemic.
The cardinal also eat meals with the collegio priests and celebrates Mass with them.
Italy has eased coronavirus restrictions on May 4 after a two-month lockdown that has seen a significant decrease in the daily death toll and hospital admissions.
But authorities have insisted that strict physical distancing measures must still be observed.
The country was the epicenter of the infection for most of March. There have been more than 30,000 deaths in Italy and 219,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus.
Public Masses and other religious services will also resume in Italy beginning May 18, under conditions set by the government officials.