LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Father Rafael Pereira serves a faith community in Las Vegas of about 500 members.
“Most are from Mexico, South America, Central America, many Hispanics, and some were born here in the United States,” says Pereira, the priest in charge of All Saints Episcopal Church.
When the pandemic struck, many generally celebrated happy occasions were replaced with gloomy ones.
“Now sometimes being with them, when they are in the hospital deceased, it was very difficult,” says Pereira.
Not to mention the statewide shutdown and the possible limit on gatherings in places of worship.
All Saints Episcopal Church was forced to close its doors on March 15, 2020, along with all other churches and businesses affected during the early stages of the pandemic.
“We closed the building, but we never closed,” Pereira says.
If parishioners couldn’t come to him, he was going to find a way to reach them, and he did, through technology and social media. The Church on Washington Avenue and Valley View Boulevard has become a base for greater awareness.
“Preach through a camera, to no one in the building,” Pereira recalls. “But yes, it was different without the spirituality of having everyone in the church praying, singing, and now I was alone through a camera, reaching out to them.”
It turned out to be a challenge at first, but it turned into an opportunity to expand its reach.
“Before the pandemic, you just reach out to your community here in Las Vegas. Now, now you can reach the whole world. Even friends, family sharing services in Italy, Spain, Venezuela, everywhere. They are part of the community, ”he says.
Pereira also sits on the board of the health department, spearheading efforts to get his community immunized.
“How he really took the lead, not only to offer his church as a vaccination site, but really to serve as a trusted religious leader to raise awareness through social platforms,” says Ericka Aviles, owner of his own consulting business .
“Through the media, through the community only, and make sure people feel it’s safe to get vaccinated, or wherever they want. It was really important for me to have that support in him, to make him do that, ”says Avila.
His work continues.
“It is important to raise awareness in the community,” Pereira says. “We are not done with the pandemic yet. It is important to get vaccinated. Even being vaccinated, it is still necessary to keep some preventions. “
“It’s part of our faith. You got to believe in doctors and science, and follow it. And faith, keep your family safe… that’s when you show your true love, ”Pereira says.