Family finds hope, connection despite social distancing

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Bethany Karlberg
  • 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing

During a time when social distancing forces physical disconnection, a family within the 22nd Attack Squadron found hope and spiritual connection with the help of the Creech Chaplain Corps, who helped the couple fulfill the desire to baptize their infant, done from their home in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 19, 2020.


Every family has seen unique challenges since COVID-19 responses have locked down the nation. This family, in particular, welcomed a newborn into the world, but rather than focusing on the fear and uncertainties, they embraced the stability of their faith.


“Everyone’s suffering in some way from this and for people, faith can provide compelling answers to that suffering and provide hope beyond it,” said 1st Lt. Nick, 22nd ATKS MQ-9 Reaper pilot. 


Spiritual fitness plays an important role in Nick and his family’s life and is something they keep strong through their Roman Catholic faith. 


According to Nick, it was important to incorporate their child into the church through baptism, and baptism is one of the most important spiritual milestones in that journey.


“Baptism puts the person on the pathway to walk with God,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Brian, presiding Catholic priest with the Creech Chaplain Corps team. “The church is a spiritual family. Just like at birth you become part of your own biological family, during baptism, you become part of God’s family.”


Nick had known Brian from previous experiences of practicing his faith at Creech, so Nick was looking forward to Brian baptizing their daughter. Nick and his wife began planning the baptism before the global pandemic and had originally decided to host a baptism ceremony at a downtown Roman Catholic Church with Brian presiding over the ceremony. Unfortunately, by the time their daughter was born, all the churches had been closed for social distancing purposes.


 Brian helped Nick and his wife explore other options such as an on-base baptism, but due to only mission-essential personnel being allowed on base, the remaining option was to perform an in-home baptism; the in-home baptism followed all safety guidelines passed down from the Archdiocese for the Military.


 “It was obviously not what we had originally planned, but I don’t think it really mattered,” Nick said. “We probably would have felt the same whether it was in a big church or just at our house.”


 According to Nick, he and his wife were grateful to have Brian perform the in-home baptism.


“[The baptism] gave us that physical connection to the church that had been missing for a little bit,” Nick said.


A priority during the baptism was to continue to follow social distancing requirements. Despite the intimate setting and number, the family and Chaplain did their best to maintain a six-foot distance, wore face masks and only performed the essential portions of the baptism so the infant would not actually need to be touched, except by her parents. Brian even carried around a disinfectant wipe, in case he needed to touch something, to immediately wipe it down.


Prior to the COVID-19, Nick and his wife had chosen two people to be their daughter’s godparents, a critical piece of the baptism. However, to follow social distancing requirements, and still be part of the ceremony, the pair video chatted into the baptism to accept their new roles in the infant’s life. 


 Although the ceremony couldn’t be celebrated as elaborately as planned, Nick and his wife were able to find support through the Creech Chaplain Corps. 


“A significant portion of the world feels as if their world has turned upside down,” Brian said. “Their daily life has radically changed… Faith becomes a solid anchor, something you can hold onto and rely upon during this time.”


The Creech Chaplain Corps is committed to serving all Airmen throughout this unusual time and is dedicated to helping the Hunter Family’s spiritual fitness thrive, whether through practice of faith, counseling or through resiliency tools in isolation or times of stress.