Mike Edwards Interview_otter.pdf


Part of Chris Taylor's Digital Archive Project

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Mike Edwards Interview
Fri, 12/4 1:07PM • 44:43
Mike Edwards, Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor ​00:17
So for this oral history, our interest is really just to look at the ways in which COVID has affected
different people of faith and a variety of different religions, and see how people have reacted to this
thing. And so I suppose my first question then is, how has the spread of COVID-19 impacted the way
that you reach out to your parish or talk to people in your religious community?
Mike Edwards ​00:47
That's a pretty good question. Within our parish, we have different groups that we have, a men's group
and a women's group, and stuff like that, and one way we've reached out is through text messages and
emails. But one of the things that I noticed with our parish specifically, is for the parish to do it it's been
a lot more difficult because people's phone numbers aren't correct, their emails aren't correct. Every
time they've tried to do a Mass live, it hasn't worked out very well, so much so that even this past
weekend, our priests had a flyer to update our information, because it's just been really hard. One of
the things we're gonna try to do, as we open the church back up because we were closed for a while,
was to do it alphabetically, and then he would email or call those families, text them. But the numbers
were so wrong, right off the bat they never really got around to it. So right now, they're trying to go
through and get everybody's numbers updated and correct so they can make a master list. But
interestingly each of the individual groups, and the leaders of those groups have everybody's emails
within that group. The only problem with that is you only get the same people that normally go to church
or normally participate in all the church activities, are the ones that are still going. And the ones that
come occasionally, or only go to church and don't participate in all the other church activities, they're
kind of left out. They don't know when mass is, they don't know when things like confession are, and all
that sort of stuff, just because they're not going to mass regularly. And they're not getting information.
The only downside to that is that every single every day our daily mass is recorded, and streamed live
on Facebook, so we can get some information there, and then Sunday Mass is streamed live on
Christopher Taylor ​02:45
That's awesome. So you've been able to use different social media platforms in order to stream the
same kind of services. Is this something that you guys were doing prior to COVID? Or is this something
Mike Edwards ​03:02
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No, when COVID hit, and they started closing down churches, there was a panic, because, you know, I
feel bad for any religious leader trying to lead. They're fostering this crazy period, because you would
think that as a country like America, we'd have better communication lines set up. I think if you look at it
historically speaking, we were probably better at it when we had fallen trees and stuff like that back in
the day during the Cold War, you know, and stuff like that. Communication's great but it's also I think
created a lot of emptiness and a lot of individuality that breaks up the community a little bit, like the
church community itself. So yeah, we've taken advantage of stuff we haven't taken advantage of
before, like our email or our website's not that great. It's changed hands and who's been in charge of it.
So when certain people become in charge of it, you know, I think it's changed on how they use it and try
to narrow that down. One of our deacons is responsible for some of the stuff on there now and helped
out a little bit, but it was a drastic change, and it took a huge learning curve.
Christopher Taylor ​04:12
For sure. And like with this, now that you've kind of recognized this, do you feel like this is something
that within the church leadership that they plan on continuing to use these kinds of platforms or having
somebody that's more frequently updating those kinds of contacts?
Mike Edwards ​04:29
I hope so, I hope that we do a better job of updating contact and updating those platforms. I do see an
increase. So what was interesting is when we started to livestream the Mass, I actually think initially, we
had an increase in attendance, because then you could sit at home and go to Mass, and the Bishop
has given us dispensation. So dispensation is the right of the ability to stay home and not have to put
yourself in danger by going to Mass because in the Catholic faith, the Sabbath is a holy day. And if you
don't go to church on the Sabbath, which is Saturday night through Sunday, you know, Jewish history
when the Sabbath starts. So if you want to go to Mass on TV, you can do that. And I think originally,
numbers were pretty high, you could look at the counter of the people that were actually logged on and
watching, and it was higher than I thought it was going to be. But I think as COVID has drawn out,
those numbers have dropped off too, which is unfortunate. I mean, there's more people going back to
church now, and we have more people attending Mass regularly, but I don't think the numbers would
match up to the total number of people who are trying to do it online and now they've just kind of
slipped away a little too.
Christopher Taylor ​05:45
Yeah it's like maybe initially, there's kind of that novelty, and it seems like a great idea, so you get kind
of more buy-in in the beginning, and then as it becomes more of the casual, people are like I can go
look at it later. And so I could see that being an issue.
Mike Edwards ​05:58
The nice thing about the Catholic faith, though, is that historically speaking, there've been several
Catholic news stations, Catholic channels that you could get the apps for stuff like that and watch Mass
from your house every Sunday for people that are like invalid and stuff like that, that can't actually get to
church. We have several news organizations and church organizations that actually livestream -I've
been live streaming that for several years. Big networks, like EWGN and Kappa Channel and Ave
Maria Radio and, and a few others are really big. And they reach a lot of people globally. So we had
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access to some technology and access to things like Sunday Masses only. So we're doing daily
Masses that you can log into, but parish, on the parish side of it, it was very difficult.
Christopher Taylor ​06:53
So on the larger scale, there's always been some -or not always- but there has been a longer history of,
you know, at least being able to tune into Mass, but as far as the local parish and doing local
community activities, that's where it's been tough, and this has been a new experience.
Mike Edwards ​07:07
Yeah, a huge hurdle to try to climb.
Christopher Taylor ​07:09
Do you feel like when you look at the types of people that are coming or not, do you feel like there's any
particular group that you've noticed that you've been shocked that they're not coming, like if it's youth or
the elderly or anything like that?
Mike Edwards ​07:25
That's interesting. We have four church services. We have one on Saturday evening, and then Sunday,
8am, Sunday at 10am, and then Spanish Mass Sunday at noon. I typically go to the Saturday evening
Mass, and I participate quite a bit in it. I'm a lecturer, I help out, I've ushered when people are not there,
I do a lot. But right now, in the last maybe month or so, regular attendance on Saturdays has been
pretty stable at about 70ish, which is close, for the size of our church, with keeping distancing six feet
and stuff like that, has been pretty close to as far as we can get. And it's the same people that went
there, who were coming to Mass before the pandemic. And for the most part, there's a few people that
aren't coming because of risk health and stuff like that. And other than that, though, I don't know, now
I've been told that like the 8am Mass on Sunday morning is very poorly attended. All the talk about the
other day is that the Deacon says it isn't too bad. I mean, I don't get up on Sundays anyway. So it'd be
hard for me to go.
Christopher Taylor ​08:53
Do you feel like many of these new kinds of social media outlets are gonna become a staple of the
church moving forward then?
Mike Edwards ​08:59
I really hope not because our sacraments are very very important to us, and receiving Holy
Communion, receiving absolution of penance for going to Confession, those have to be done in person.
You can't do confessionals over the phone, you can't do confessionals over Zoom, because of possible
people tapping into it and stuff like that. And then you can't receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, you
have to be in person for that. And that's a big part of our faith. And to stay online would, I think, do
damage to our faith greatly.
Christopher Taylor ​09:33
I think that's really interesting that you bring that up. I think when most people think of religion, they
think of it as just like learning stuff, you know, learning the doctrine, and yet, like you say, you know,
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there's a lot more to it. And I would say particularly in the Catholic faith, the emphasis of the sacraments
and these kind of, you know, ordinances or rituals that are performed that really can't be substituted
with just some kind of service like this.
Mike Edwards ​09:57
It's hard to do a baptism over the internet. You throw water at your TV screen? Yeah, there's definitely
that. You know I teach the confirmation class which is also another sacrament, and that's actually a
two year requirement of learning to be confirmed. You know, and we've had to make the adjustments
for that too. We went all the way down to just twelve students per class and we have six feet between
each student in the class, and it's been kind of difficult.
Christopher Taylor ​10:30
Are there some of those kinds of rituals that have had to stop entirely as a result of it or been put off
until they could find a solution for it?
Mike Edwards ​10:38
There has. So when they first shut down, obviously Communion was done, and even Confessions were
done, because everything was shut down completely. And then we've moved into a phase where some
people are able to go back to church, Confessional was done sometimes -it depends on the state- and
what the local laws are in the states, a lot of stuff like that, and the rules that the mayors and governors
are placing out there. Luckily, the Supreme Court made a nice ruling yesterday for religious faith,
especially in New York City. But we actually had where you could do a drive by Confessions in person,
but they wanted to keep the distance between the person going to Confession and the priest, so the
priests would sit outside the parking lot, and pull the car up next to them, and they would roll the
window down and do just Confession in the parking lot. Which -crazy- but I mean, because those
sacraments mean so much to us, people are willing to do that. I think there's a lot of frustration out
there, there's a lot of people that would like to go to church, they would like to have a more normal life.
They would like to see the sacraments. But they're also a lot of people that are scared because of
COVID, and the possible, spreading from like that. One of the things that we've done specifically in our
diocese, (so the diocese is the whole state of Utah) we're required to receive Communion in the hand,
historically speaking, received either on the tongue or in the hand. Some people think that in the hand
isn't as reverent as on the tongue, because you could drop it. But all the way back as far as the second
century, there's been guidelines for that, to receive it in the hand, by some of the early church fathers,
from the third century. And there's been a lot of conservation over people wanting to receive it in the
mouth, and actually, what's really weird is you have some people in some places that will refuse to go
to church if the hand receives the offering. Which I mean, for me, I think I don't know if I'd call it petty,
but I think it's the lack of understanding of how to do it reverently in the hand, as opposed to on the
tongue. Does that make sense? There's a way to do it reverently and I think you should be able to
swallow your pride a little bit and if you want to really receive the sacrament, you receive the
sacrament, you know?
Christopher Taylor ​13:14

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Is that something where -because I wouldn't even have thought of that- but yeah, there's probably
some people that would see it as the compromise being made in an effort to to perform these. They
don't think that it's good enough or acceptable...
Mike Edwards ​13:31
Yeah and that's a poor understanding of the faith. I think in recent years, catechesis has been poor, I
know that my catechesis was poor. Now that I teach it, I wish I would have learned the stuff when I was
a kid that I'm teaching now. Because I don't think either I'm ignorant and I forgot that I learned it or it
was never taught to me to begin with. I'm kind of a smart guy, I think I'd remember some of the stuff. So
it's interesting, they say ignorance is bliss, but I don't know if ignorance is gonna get you to heaven.
Christopher Taylor ​14:14
Do you think that recognizing this maybe from a church leadership standpoint, have they maybe
rethought, that maybe there are some of these things that we need to go back through and evaluate
how we've taught?
Mike Edwards ​14:24
Yeah, I think even a little bit before COVID, but definitely because of COVID I think church leadership is
starting to understand that a lot of people don't really understand, you know, how to do the sacraments
correctly or what the church moral standards on certain issues are or you know, what the catechesis is,
you know. We've got the Catechism of the Catholic Church which was propagated by Vatican two back
in the 1960s. We had a catechism before that called the Baltimore Catechism but the Catechism of the
Catholic Church is a pretty thick book, but it's got all the rules of the Church in it and now they're saying,
the vast majority of Catholics have never opened one.
Christopher Taylor ​15:07
Yeah. I guarantee that that's not just a Catholic issue. That's a general problem.
Mike Edwards ​15:14
Absolutely. And so that responsibility kind of falls on us, the laity, and we're not doing a good job of that
either. Obviously, I think, if more people were true to their faith, we'd have a lot less problems as we're
having in society today. You know, the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave when the
Sadducees and the Pharisees tried to corner more, number one, love God, above all else, and number
two, love your neighbor as you love yourself. If you love your neighbors and you love yourself, we're not
gonna have rioting, we're gonna have protests, we're not gonna have racism, we're not gonna have all
that other stuff, right?
Christopher Taylor ​15:48
Yeah. That's really interesting. So you do a teaching class, right? For youth? Have you mentioned any
of that with them? Or have you gotten a feel for what they feel like?
Mike Edwards ​16:03
Oh absolutely. You know, the youth have a hard time. It's probably not just in the Catholic Church, but
they think church is boring. "Why don't have to get up on Sundays?", stuff like that. So, you know, you
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got to kind of try to sell it, as a chatechesis teacher, why it's important, stuff like that. And that was
actually one of my lessons I did this last Monday was loving your neighbor as you love yourself. You
know, and, and part of the thing I talked about is, you know, you would have to understand what loving
yourself means also, you know. It means treating your body with respect, it means doing what's morally
right. You know, how can you treat somebody else that way, if you don't even treat yourself that way. I
think that has been a new direction that some of the stuff the church is doing, at least I'm hoping so.
Christopher Taylor ​17:02
As far as COVID is concerned with either youth or elderly or just kind of the people that you know, what
kind of impact do you think COVID has had on people's faith? Do you think that with kind of these
events like catastrophe that people are drawing away? Or maybe in what way? I'm sure it's kind of a
combination, but maybe in what ways have they drawn closer to the faith? And maybe moved away?
Mike Edwards ​17:22
it's interesting, I think, I think it kind of ebbs and flows. I think, when you have a, we have a pattern like
this, I think a lot of people turn to faith quickly. The problem was that as this happened, turning to faith
is a hard thing to do, because churches were closed down. You know what I mean? I think it butted
heads there, I think in a regular situation, you know, take a typical war, you know, what was church
attendance during the World War, did it increase or decrease? I'm assuming that it increased, right? But
during a pandemic, I would assume the church attendance would increase except for the churches
were closed. So I think you get a lot of pushback because of that. And a lot of distrust in the
government. And, I don't know. I know that in the past few years, laities, for Catholics, I mean, every
church has problems with, with membership leaving in the pandemic, sometimes, but not all. But what I
have seen is that those that still try to go to church and those that remain faithful, their faith has been
deepened. If that makes sense.
Christopher Taylor ​18:32
Mike Edwards ​18:33
They're stronger in their faith, if they've stayed positive, and stayed going to church if they could, or
watching it on tv, and they're taking time to read and listen to Catholic radio and stuff like that.
Christopher Taylor ​18:49
That's interesting, because I agree. I think like you said, you know, when you have a catastrophe,
there's a lot of people I think would naturally turn to religion. But it complicates it when they can't turn to
religion, at least not in the way that you want to because of the pandemic. And that would probably lead
to like you mentioned, the frustration.
Mike Edwards ​19:05
I think that's what you're seeing nationwide, so many churches, speaking out against the government
as restrictions are handed down, you know, it's like Governor Cuomo doesn't allow churches to meet
but he allows supermarkets to be open. And, you know, he lost in that Supreme Court case, so the
churches can remain open. You know, what I mean? It's interesting, I think some governors, I think,
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some government officials have figured out, the mayor of LA just last week, closed everything down,
except for two things, protests and churches. Both of them are rights. And I think a lot of Americans feel
cheated and that they are not able to experience personal rights where other businesses are being able
to be left open. So I think you see a little bit of a ground swelling of faithful -in general- pushing back
against the government in some of these regulations that are being pushed on, not just in the Catholic
faith, but I think the other faiths too. People want to go to church and the government's not letting us do
it, so it becomes okay, where are we at as a society?
Christopher Taylor ​20:07
Yeah, and that's interesting, you know, as far as the political nature, it's like people don't want to
politicize it. But when, you know, a shutdown does close down your church, you I think in a way, you
have to kind of politicize it. Do you feel like that's created any division within the parish or like some
people are more willing to go along with it and other people are not?
Mike Edwards ​20:26
Yeah I think it's interesting, that there are some people that are divided by some of the people in the
parish. I have a really good friend that believes that everything about COVID is a government hoax, and
it's a farce and it's not as bad as it seems, and that we're bowing down to the man. And I understand
that point of view. If you looked at the total statistics, and the total numbers of people that are dying,
and the total of people that are getting sick, and I'm not saying that's a good thing, it's bad when
anybody gets sick and when anybody dies, but if you compare it to things like the Spanish flu, or even
the normal flu, the numbers aren't that dramatically greater, or in some cases they're smaller. So, the
politicizing of the pandemic has, I think, divided people in the parish, for that reason. You know,
whether to wear a mask or not, for people that don't like wearing a mask, they don't think they should
have to wear masks in church, and there's been a lot of pushback in that. We offer free masks as you
come in, if you didn't bring one or you forgot one, and some people have turned around and walked out,
and they wouldn't come into church cause they don't want to have to wear a mask, you know. But one
part about that is if you're truly Christian, and you're wearing a mask, that's charity. It's not for your
protection it's for the protection of everybody around you. And I think we forget that, you know, I think
pride, one of the seven deadly sins, definitely plays a huge factor into that, and it's unfortunate.
Christopher Taylor ​21:55
In your particular Parish, like if someone were to walk in and decide not to wear a mask, would they
have to leave, or have you been given much guidance about that?
Mike Edwards ​22:03
Yeah, they would be escorted out because that's what the bishop has said, that the rule is created. And
he is our shepherd. And, you know, you can politically not like it, but are you gonna follow the rule of
the Catholic Church and the rule that your shepherd has set down or are you gonna be hard-headed
and stubborn and not wear it? Most people, even my friend that thinks the pandemic is fake, he will
wear his mask to church. He doesn't like it -he hates it- but he does.
Christopher Taylor ​22:39

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Yeah, and I like how you mentioned, I'm sure you talk about this in your church, but like you said, it's an
act of compassion, you know, maybe you don't think it's necessary, but there are going to be people
that are here. So for their sensitivity to, to demonstrate that brotherly love to them, you're going to wear
it to, to try to demonstrate that we're gonna all be in this together kind of an attitude.
Mike Edwards ​22:58
Yeah. But how hard is it? It's not like "okay, I don't like it, yay". You know for Catholics church is an
hour. It's not that hard.
Christopher Taylor ​23:09
Have there been other -aside from wearing a mask- are there any other restrictions that have been
placed on the church?
Mike Edwards ​23:33
So we also have spray bottles in front of the church you're required to spray your hands with, whatever
it is, the gel they use to kill the germs, and then, before we go up to Communion we're required to wear
our face masks as we're walking through the church while going up to Communion. And then the
Communion servers, including the priest and the deacons, usually, in the Catholic faith, the priest and
the deacon give out Communion, but we have what's called extraordinary ministers that also give out
Communion just to help out a little bit. They'll go up and receive their communion and they've got to
spray their hands in between each Communion, before they put their hand out for anybody else. So,
one of the things they put in, like I said, the other restrictions are 6 feet between people, between each
family, the reduction in the size of the classes, um you know, things like that.
Christopher Taylor ​24:31
Do you feel like they're...
Mike Edwards ​24:32
It's harder too because you have to open up more classes for catechism to get all the students
educated. We've had to do online for almost -or take home stuff- for almost all the other sacramental
classes. First communion and confirmation are the only catechism classes meeting right now. You
know, that's third grade, fourth grade, and seventh and eighth grade. All the other classes aren't
meeting right now, and those teachers are doing assignments they get to take home and read that, so
we've had to change a lot of stuff that way too.
Christopher Taylor ​25:05
Yeah. Have you had many people that you feel like you've expressed gratitude for the willingness for
the church to comply and to, you know, to at least get something on the field to do as much as you
Mike Edwards ​25:17
Oh yeah, there's a lot of people that are super happy that the church is open. And it's a very warm
feeling, we have a pretty tight community especially. I mean, it's probably like a lot of other churches,
there's groups of people that hang out together within the church and you know, when you've been
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quarantined it's nice to see each other. But another thing that happened is that we can't meet in the
foyar, we can't stop and greet each other on the way in or the way out, and we can meet outside but as
winter comes up, it's gonna be much harder. Yeah, there's a lot of gravity. And there's a lot of people
that wish they could go that just won't go because they're afraid of COVID, you know. If you look at the
demographics of the Catholic Church here in Utah, it's a lot of older people, a lot of post-forty-year-old
people and a lot of much older people too that are Catholic. So they're afraid because they're afraid of
getting the virus, and that's understandable.
Christopher Taylor ​26:15
Yeah. Has the church tried to -and I know, we talked about this a little bit in the beginning- but has there
been any way especially for, like you said, that older generation that may be a little bit more concerned
coming in, to try to facilitate that kind of camaraderie or other kind of, you know, instead of hanging out
in the foyer, or doing that kind of social gathering something else for them to do to replace that?
Mike Edwards ​26:35
Unfortunately, like, it takes me 15 minutes to get to my parish. So organizing events, it's not like it's a
community of men that you can meet down with, you know, at the park on the corner and do something
for Catholics in Utah. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of orientation and a lot of stuff to make
something like that happen. I'm not saying that we can't. And maybe we should, but I think just with,
with what COVID has been, and how its treated people, and how people are tired and worn out and
they don't want to you know, I think it would be very hard to do. And I think even with that, the people
that are afraid to come to church would also be afraid to meet like that. The other thing, that's important
too, though, you know, one of our sacraments is the sacrament of healing, (it used to be called last
rites) but if you are sick, you can call our priests and they'll show up and give you communion and show
you compassion and do your last rites, and he'll pray for you for healing. And he'll do that at the drop of
a hat, him and the deacon. They have ran into problems with people that are sick from the hospital,
whether they can come in or not, because they only allow families, and stuff like that. Interestingly too,
at what point do you restrict clergy from being in the hospital to give people last rites, you know? Not
every church does that. But the Catholic church is willing and it's a responsibility that's hard. You know,
not being able to do that, and have the government say no, it's frustrating for them. But it also puts
them at risk too. I mean, our preist is 54m, our main deacon -who has taken on a lot of responsibility- is
72 or 73. And our newest deacon is 60. So you know, they're old, they're in the high risk areas, but they
are willing to go and they know that help is sacred. One thing I've been trying to really push lately in the
classes I teach, and I think a lot of other Catholic students too, is that we're only here on Earth for a
brief moment, and we're in eternity forever. So is it more important to focus on what's next -forever? Or
is it more important to focus on your time here on the planet. So, you know, I think that's been a little bit
of the change in the focus of a lot of the teachers that are teaching and stuff like that. And our priests
and our deacons really understand that and the reality people face with dying or the possibility of dying.
Christopher Taylor ​26:59
Do you feel like there's been an uptick in the number of people asking/reaching out to the priest or the
deacon to come?
Mike Edwards ​29:57
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They're always just busy. So I don't know if it's been more or less busy than usual. The only downside
of that is when they've been exposed to somebody for 15 minutes, now they've got to quarantine, and
in the state of Utah, we have a limited number of priests and deacons, right? So if, if our priests get
quarantined now, you know, what do we do as a congregation? You know, we can have communion
services with hosts that have already been consecrated, but it's not a regular full mass, and a deacon
can do that but it's not a regular full mass. There's only so many substitute priests in the state of Utah
that can fill in for the priest in your area.
Christopher Taylor ​30:34
Yeah. Do you think that creates any hesitancy at all among people to call on the bishop knowing that?
Or the priest or any of them?
Mike Edwards ​30:47
I don't know. I don't think it's caused any hesitancy for the priest to do, you know, what they've been
ordained to do. I think they're glad to do it. I think they're cautious and they're wary of the possibilities.
But I think our bishop has done a very good job of trying to maintain continuity throughout the state.
Christopher Taylor ​31:16
Okay. For COVID, I think that religion plays such an important role in you know, you hear a lot about a
lot of people that are struggling with depression, with rise of things like suicide, and, you know,
especially with the isolation that a lot of people experience. And even for people that don't have a
chance to go to work, because maybe they've been laid off, or they've been furloughed, you know,
sometimes work becomes that, that outlet that they need. So what kind of value, or why do you think
religion might become so important in stepping in or continuing that role of helping these kind of people
Mike Edwards ​31:54
I think faith gives us comfort, I think it gives us more comfort than anything else. Going to work is nice
and being there for your friends is good, but being able to rely on faith, the benefits of faith I think are
really important. I've seen, I've heard studies where you literally are depressed, or having anxiety, if
they take medication for it, it can be good. If they take medication, and increase their faithful life, it's
even better. But ironically, if they just increase their faithful life, it actually does better than the
medication and the faith, if they just decided to deepen their faith. So I think, I think faith is super
Christopher Taylor ​32:56
Do you feel like within, specifically in Catholicism, are there any particular stories that you feel like are
especially important in a time like this that gives comfort?
Mike Edwards ​33:09
I think, you know, a lot of those stories would be pretty similar across the Christian faith, and whether
it's the New Testament or the Old Testament, you know, for those that endure the hard times, you
know, there'll be greatness on the other end, the meek shall inherit the earth. If you look at the Israelites
as they came out of Egypt, you know, and the 10 plagues that Moses brought upon Pharaoh, and, you
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know, they were able to get out of there. I think that most Christian faiths are going to have those same
stories or same typical events that really gave comfort to those that were away, you know, when you
see a man in the desert, and God provides for you. I think those are all things that we can rely on. As
we look at New Testament verses, and even Old Testament verses.
Christopher Taylor ​34:04
That's awesome. Let me just double check. How do you feel that the pandemic has impacted the way
that you view religion today? Now that having experienced kind of what you see within your own
congregation, and even just within your own family, has that attitude changed or any of that?
Mike Edwards ​34:25
I think I'm more frustrated with the way the government has handled it with restrictions and stuff like
that. I think there's been a huge shift in our society lately anyway, towards a more socialistic ideal, and
one of the basics of socialism is structurally the nuclear family, you know, if you go to some of the basic
socialist theories. I think the only way to combat that is to say, I think faith's gonna be the thing that's
going to be able to combat the socialist movement within the United States. It's ironic though, we use
faith until we don't need it anymore, we don't think we need it anymore. We can rely on it and we can
preach it and we can believe in it, and then once everything seems to be better, we seem to lose our
faith a little bit. So. I don't know, I hope as the pandemic does bring people back closer to the faith, I
hope that they realize that, you know, the material things of the world that we have, they seem to go
away with the pandemic with jobs or the amount of money we have in our savings, or whatever, that all
that's fleeting, and that faith -the eternal reward is much more important than what we have here on
Christopher Taylor ​35:50
Do you think that because of the pandemic, has it been with like your own Parish, any kind of, you
know, community efforts with an interfaith joining with other religious denominations to try to express
that same kind of an attitude like the importance of faith, regardless of what denomination we're a part
Mike Edwards ​36:09
I know that in recent years, regardless of the pandemic or not, I know that our Bishop has reached out
to other faith communities within the state of Utah to create some ecumenical learning,
ecumenical-based ideas across the board. So I think that's a very positive thing. But parish wise, like I
said, our parishioners are so few and far between, and then if you look at the other states, I think, Utah
is what 5% of Utah's Catholic and then so who else with a Christian faith are we gonna reach out to?
We've done some stuff with the LDS Church -it's right across the street from ours. They were really
helpful when we were building the church and our new parish and everything like that. But there's even
fewer Episcopalians, even fewer, you know, Lutherans, there's even fewer Baptists. So they're even
spread out even more, so it'd be interesting. I think they've needed joining with other faiths, but not on a
parish level just because they're so spread out.
Christopher Taylor ​37:09

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That's probably true, probably more of a, from the top position kind of working together. Do you feel like
a joint effort like that, or even do you know, if there has been any kind of movement for them to contact,
you know, local political leaders or state political leaders? Just to kind of get that voice out, to let them
know, because I think, I wonder if some of them think, you know, it is just about, you know, you can
listen to a lesson online, but I think they don't realize kind of the necessity of being in person and that
kind of an impact...
Mike Edwards ​37:42
You know, I don't, I don't know, my assumption in the state of Utah would be that with the government
of the state of Utah as being so LDS-centered, and the governor being LDS, I think they probably have
a closer connection with that, and will have an easier time of pushing those ideas. And I think that's
maybe why the restrictions in Utah aren't as bad as some of the other places. I think the LDS Church is
taking a lead in that, and thankfully so. I know that the LDS Church has had their own restrictions
they've had to deal with and rotate the times for them to go to church and all that stuff, also. But I think
we're lucky to be in a state like this where faith is important, and the government knows that faith's
important to us. But I know that, I'm pretty sure that our Bishop meets with the governor. I know that
representatives will go to the State Congress and talk about stuff, so I know that it does happen.
Christopher Taylor ​38:49
That's awesome that they do have that contact and that hopefully, there's kind of those good feelings
and willingness to kind of work together to try to help, you know to make sure that it's not just an LDS
thing here in Utah but that all people feel heard.
Mike Edwards ​39:01
One of the things I thought was interesting was on charity, and how we responded with families that are
needy and stuff like that. The response for -historically for Catholics- has always been very good. You
know, if you look at the stats, historically, the cabinet's give more to charity than any other religious
faith, you know, in the history of the world. And we still do a lot of that right now. We had a drive for
families for Thanksgiving. And we fed families that way. We'll do the same thing for Christmas and the
few people that do show up for that give way more than you would expect. The families that went home
with turkeys and everything from Thanksgiving drive was, they got enough food for months, for whole
families. And then they have things like Catholic community services that people donate money to all
the time and they're out in the communities, helping out. And you've got The Lenderton House, which I
think, we give money to and donations to, and you've got the soup kitchen down in Salt Lake that feeds
homeless people three times a day, every day of the week. And, you know, a lot of stuff is financed
through our regular donations to the church on a weekly basis and a yearly basis, also.
Christopher Taylor ​40:24
That's good to know, because even though in a time where a lot of people are hurting financially, it's
nice to know that those donations haven't, you know, completely dropped off. And it sounds like from
what you're saying that it's actually increased, a lot of people are being more generous.
Mike Edwards ​40:38

Transcribed by ​https://otter.ai

Yeah, I think people realize that other people are struggling, and those that have are giving more than
they have in the past -it just feels like it a little bit. Like I said, the amount of food that we had has
dramatically increased. The weird part was that we didn't have as many families that requested food.
So the ones that got the food got extra because we didn't feed as many as we thought we would, which
is a whole other issue.
Christopher Taylor ​41:03
Yeah. Do you have within your local area, like you said, you know, leaders checking in on those that
they know would probably be hurting more like when you hear about a family that's, you know, maybe
somebody's lost a job or been laid off for a little while?
Mike Edwards ​41:19
I think our parish does a pretty good job of knowing the families within the parish. And if there are
problems, I think there's enough general concern for one another within the parish that we check up on
each other regularly. Because by seven degrees of separation, right, everybody knows Kevin Bacon.
Within so many steps, so I think word of mouth travels pretty quickly for people in need and stuff like
that. You know, we still do funeral services and stuff like that, and they can call the parish at any time
and ask for help, and what help we can give.
Christopher Taylor ​41:58
That sounds great, sounds like you've got a really well-connected, you know, kind of family unit in your
Mike Edwards ​42:03
Yeah, we try, we try. We wish more people would attend, we have a lot of families that are registered to
our parish, but church attendance is low. It was low before the pandemic, you know, but the pandemic
definitely I don't think has helped out. Like it's really, I think, those that are faithful it's deepened their
faith, it just hasn't spread a lot.
Christopher Taylor ​42:24
Yeah, I wonder if when this is all over, whenever there is a sense of normal, you know, how many,
maybe people that are not currently coming for a variety of different reasons, if you'll see any kind of
spike. Or if you feel like it'll be just kind of the same, you know, the same that are probably attending
now will be the same that keep coming.
Mike Edwards ​42:46
I think we'll have an increase in church attendance cause I know we have parishioners right now that
are aching to come but because of fear, because their immune-compromised, and stuff like that, they
just don't dare come to church right now. But I think we'll have an increase in church attendance, at
least for a while.
Christopher Taylor ​43:01

Transcribed by ​https://otter.ai

And I wonder even if it's just those that are, like you said, you know, on the lists, but are for whatever
reason maybe have been less active for a long period of time, if maybe once normal comes back and
you know, if there's this appreciation for it, like, "oh, maybe I appreciate that...I want to go back".
Mike Edwards ​43:16
Yeah, I hope that the Holy Spirit does reach out and touch those people and touches their hearts and
realizes that, you know, they made it through the pandemic because of the grace of God and that they'll
be appreciative and come to church and be grateful and thankful and increase membership and
attendance and stuff.
Christopher Taylor ​43:33
Okay. Well I really appreciate all your support, maybe just as a final question, is there any other kind of
final thoughts you had on the pandemic or on, you know, how it's affected faith that you'd like to kind of
leave us off with?
Mike Edwards ​43:47
No, I just think it's, I think it's unfortunate, I think my biggest gripe is the strife between local
governments and the ability to attend church. My biggest area of concern is you can have tattoo shops
open and bars open and grocery stores open, but you can't have church open. That frustrates me, I
think it's a violation of our First Amendment rights. I think it's a violation of people's faith rights in
general. I think it's a violation of what America was based on. When things like the Supreme Court rules
against New York City in their faith requirements, it makes me happy.
Christopher Taylor ​44:32
Well, I really appreciate everything you've done for us and I'll talk to you later, man.
Mike Edwards ​44:37
Yep! Thanks for the interview!

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