"They have been exceptional in their care for those in need," he said. "I'm just so proud of them."
Buckley has not neglected the spiritual needs of his flock, even while he is still not able to celebrate Mass publicly. He is hard-of-hearing--and without one of his hearing aids that he sent for repairs pre-pandemic--he had to work with the diocese to figure out a way for him to continue safely, and literally, hearing confessions.
While the diocese recommended a space of at least six feet between penitent and confessor, that would not work for Buckley's situation. He is now hearing confessions twice a week, for two hours at a time, in his office with the door closed. A penitent must make an appointment for confession in order to ensure that the church would not become crowded.
Buckley said he's "very excited" to resume hearing confessions.
"The need for the Sacraments is so important," he said. "Especially confession and the reception of the Eucharist."
Once Buckley is permitted to have public Masses again, he will have a backlog of at least 15 memorial Masses he promised to celebrate for parishioners who have died from COVID-19.
"We've had one after another of parishioners, or family members of parishioners[...] that have died. It's been a lot," he said. He has regularly posted prayer requests on social media, to the point where "I worried that people are going to get sick of me asking for prayers for somebody else."
In dealing with the pandemic, Buckley said that the most challenging spiritual aspect for his parish is the inability to mourn in the standard manner.
"They can't go to wakes and funerals. So, it's very hard on them. They can't say goodbye," he said. He told CNA that he has been dealing with much of the grieving process on the phone with parishioners.
Despite everything, Buckley insists that his parish has been blessed; blessed with a small, yet smart and capable staff who moved programming online, and blessed with the outpouring of assistance from others.
"I'm very grateful that there's so many incredible people out there that are willing to help, volunteer, sacrifice themselves to help others," he said.
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"We're so blessed and so touched. God is good."
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.