While livestream Masses and rosaries are great ways to help parishioners to pray and encounter God during a time of isolation, they may also at times appear to only be engaging individuals in one direction, rather than inspiring them to actively participate along. To complement these efforts, we compiled a list of other ways you and your parish staff can offer opportunities for spiritual growth, service, and foster community.
We’ve seen the effectiveness of using platforms like Zoom for video meetings, but why stop there? Ministry leaders can use Zoom to continue existing Bible studies, small groups and other standing gatherings in the parish, or leadership can even start new groups as a way to encourage virtual fellowship and connection when we’re unable to experience it physically. These groups can be private or open to anyone, they can be large or small or they can focus on a specific ministry group. Here is a great guide to setting up online groups and structuring meetings. It also includes a list of tools you can use, some for free.
Compile a weekly guide to act as a companion to a livestream Mass. The key here is creating more than just a worship aid. Include readings and a guide for the Mass, but be sure to incorporate interactive elements as well, like activities for the kids, discussion questions, music playlists and more.
It is no surprise that social distancing and isolation leaves many people feeling disconnected. Designate a “call-in” line where parishioners can call with prayer requests or if they are feeling particularly alone. Members of an intercessory prayer team or parish leaders or volunteers may take turns monitoring the call-in line and providing prayer and comfort to struggling community members. Examples of this and additional resources can be found here .
FAMILY-LED LIVESTREAM PRAYERS
One Texas parish hosts a Facebook livestream of the Divine Mercy Chaplet led by a different family from the parish everyday. If your parish is praying a particular devotion during this pandemic, this could be a wonderful tool to encourage active participation among parishioners and to give the community a chance to see each other’s faces.
Faith formation does not need to be put on hold as a result of social distancing. Craft discussions of integral topics such as forgiveness, the real presence or the meaning of Lenten sacrifice. Stream or post these online with a personal guide and reflection questions that can inspire parishioners to use some of this solitary time to grow in their faith.
READ A CHILDREN’S BOOK
Encourage your pastor or whomever leads youth or children’s ministry to read a children’s book and share it virtually with the parish. This can be successful both as a recording or a livestream, but the use of a livestream will allow families the opportunity to connect and react with each other in real time. Additionally, you may suggest that families read along together at home if they own a copy of the book.
HOST A SING-ALONG
Inspire your music minister to host a livestream in which they lead a hymn or song and viewers can pray, sing along or listen at home. Perhaps your musician can compile a list of seasonal and popular pieces and encourage the community to use the chat box to request titles off the list.