June 7, 2020

In today’s column, we continue hearing from our staff on the work and ministry they are doing at this time. Today we hear from our Communications Coordinator, Barbara Allen, and our Pastoral Assistant for Faith Formation, Tracy Joy.

Here is Barbara’s Update:

The majority of my tasks are digital in the best of times, so moving my work location to my home office has not been particularly difficult for me. What is tough, however, is missing the personal interaction with my coworkers. We have a great camaraderie and collaborative work environment—and Zoom, Slack, and email only go so far in helping us stay connected. It does help to know that we’re all in the same boat!

I’ve had to ramp up my skills to get better at helping with the weekly Mass live stream and I do spend more time attending to social media and other electronic communication avenues. Creating the bulletin each week and maintaining the website fill in my days, too. I am more attuned than ever to the importance of helping our parishioners feel connected and engaged with the parish. On the horizon is the deployment of our new parish app which I have been assisting with. Coming soon...stay tuned!

Here is Tracy’s Update:

Having done ministry for more than two decades at the parish there is a certain rhythm and familiarity in both the year and my job. Like millions of others this spring who suddenly found themselves working from home, it was time to establish a new rhythm, a new familiarity, and a different way of ministering. In a people-centric job this lack of face-to-face, hands-on ministry has been a stretch but with the aid of technology and a steep learning curve, much of what would typically have been done at the parish has continued virtually.

For a decade our parish has ministered to whole families for faith formation. Families generally teach three-quarters of the lessons at home each month. When we were unable to meet in person the families simply took on those extra weeks of teaching their children. They taught at home what would have been covered in our monthly sessions. Parents have received resources and support to continue their at-home learning. The catechetical team has met online for class planning, personal check-ins, and end-of-the-year assessment. Catechists who have been attending certification sessions have moved to online classes with me and will be able to complete their certification right on time. Planning for next year has now begun virtually as well.

The Easter season is when our parish gets to celebrate sacraments with some of our youngest parishioners and their families. Each year on the second or third Sunday of Easter season our parish celebrates infant baptisms with eager families. During this time of staying home, again, thanks to technology, all of the families were able to complete all of the requirements for baptism online through virtual appointments and classes. We look forward to welcoming these children into the faith community once we are again able to celebrate baptisms.

Also still waiting to celebrate sacraments is our one child Elect and all of our first communion candidates. Our Elect and his family are continuing the RCIA journey by attending live-streamed mass and breaking open the Word at home, utilizing virtual meetings and weekly discussions. They all wait for the time when he can be fully-initiated into the Catholic Church. The communion candidates completed their final preparation session and required communion retreat at home with their families through videos, virtual tours, and hands-on activities. This week they picked up the traditional communion banners to complete at home and hopefully soon have hung in the church for all to see when public masses resume. Together with their families these candidates anxiously await the opportunity to celebrate their first communion.

Adult faith formation is continuing. Two Bible study groups are meeting virtually and one group, because not everyone utilizes technology, stays in touch with one another through weekly phone calls. There is a group of Alpha alums who are meeting virtually and they are planning to offer an online version of Alpha in the near future.

One large summer activity that will not be held this year is Vacation Bible School. After much prayer, discernment, discussion, and without being able to guarantee what VBS would be like this summer the difficult decision was made. We look forward to coming back in the summer of 2021.

Even though the past two months have presented some unique opportunities for ministry and outreach in new ways and will most likely shape and present new options in the years to come  I am looking forward to the celebration of sacraments and ministry in-person once again.

I am grateful to Barbara and to Tracy for all the good ministry they are doing to continue to form our children and families in our faith and keeping us informed!

Please be sure to check back regularly on the website for updates on the re-opening plan for public Masses. Have a great week.

Fr. Gary