This is an evolving page to help us continue our Catholic life in this new reality. Although our churches are starting to reopen, we don’t know when we shall be able to gather in the way we used to. However with the new skills we’ve learned, we are now able to come together in different ways, for prayer, conversation and Mass. What new opportunities does this open up for us?
Looking to a new normal
We are just starting to explore what it means to take our parishes online. Across the diocese a whole new group of volunteers stepped up to offer technical support. Our parish blog shows some of what’s been possible, with children’s liturgy, praise and prayer services, confirmation and first communion sessions all happening digitally. Looking to the future, we might imagine live-streaming baptisms, marriages and funerals for the benefit of family and friends across the world, to say nothing of live-streaming Sunday Mass for the house-bound and elderly. What else might we do over the coming months?
- Pros and cons of 24-7 access to faith resources online
- Challenges of engaging people in virtual liturgies and maintaining reverence when wearing pyjamas.
- What social distancing will mean for our personal interaction with one another.
- Rediscovering gratefulness and what we are learning in isolation
- Things that we’ve learned about our communities and the people in them during this time of online interaction.
- Potential for innovation and a more profound faith experience in the future.
The Scottish Jesuits have hosted a series of talks which have been recorded, including Fr Augusto Zampini-Davies, the head of Pope Francis’ Post-Covid Taskforce, and Fr. Damian Howard SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain, on the Church after lockdown. The questions and answers are as interesting as the talks themselves. https://www.lauriston.org.uk/lockdownsfromlauriston
There has been a lot of learning over the last few months, but it’s often the technical details that trip us up. Here are two great resources to help:
Excellent guide to taking Mass online by Chris Knowles: https://www.formingmissionarydisciples.org.uk/covid19
A very comprehensive ecumenical guide to digital church: https://covid.churcheshandbook.co.uk
Divine Renovation has a fantastic guide to “Ministering in the new reality” covering messaging, meeting, ministry and money. It has lots of very practical examples and tips: download it here: https://divinerenovation.org/rkreality
Alpha is offering help to parishes wanting to take their courses online: https://alpha.org.uk/alpha-online. You can register here for a free webinar to get hints and tips to get started.
The Sycamore evangelisation courses are free for use until August 2020, and they offer excellent advice about taking your group online.
CaFE (Catholic Faith Exploration) are offering free parish-wide downloads with the purchase of each of their resources: https://faithcafe.org/pages/cafe-at-home.
The Pastoral Centre have parish licenses for all their downloadable resources for family catechesis and Catholic parenting, which might work particularly well in current circumstances. https://pastoral.center
Running parish or pastoral area groups online
Here is a 3 minute video introduction to taking your group online from Ascension Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyJ-3vWmHTA&feature=youtu.be And see this page for great tips on running prayer groups remotely, from conference and video calls to social media groups. Maris Nicholson took her mums’ prayer group online using Facebook messager video: read more about it here: https://formationpathways.co.uk/parish-blog/.
Deacon Paul Priestly, at Saint John Henry Newman Parish, High Wycombe, has been using David Well’s Beloved Disciple videos over Zoom. They’ve watched the videos using the “share screen” facility, and then used “breakout rooms” to have group conversations. He found the sessions very helpful, giving people an opportunity to talk difficult situations over, and think about new priorities for life. He said that people had been happy to share, and that they’d been able to reflect in silence and pray together as well. His top tip is to have one person lead a prayer and get everyone else to switch off their microphones as they speak. This also works with singing!
Fr Kevin O’Driscoll, Dean of Slough Pastoral Area, and Ciarán Beary, Chair, hosted weekly online meetings of the Pastoral Area Council using “GoToMeeting”. They explored various aspects of the Post-Covid church including vision, communication, outreach into the community and leadership. They are developing a vision to take the local church into this new reality.
Don’t forget that not everyone is online!
One of the biggest difficulties of lockdown was the digital divide between those who could go online, get up-to-date information, book food and medicine deliveries (when available!) and stay in touch with family through video calls. Many of our elderly do not have this access. Parishes have taken a range of measures to keep connected, including printing and delivering newsletters, help with zoom and getting online, and weekly phone calls. We need to build this into our plans for the future.
Getting to Mass
While churches are reopening for Mass around the diocese, not all are able to do so. We can join with Bishop David and the diocese for 11am Mass at the Cathedral on Sunday. The Cathedral Masses are all live-streamed (Sat 6pm, Sun 8.30, 11am and 5.15pm) and you can access them here: https://northamptondiocese.org/live/ Some local parishes are also live-streaming their Masses, so check your parish website to see if this is happening near you.
We know that for people with intellectual disabilities, going to church is both a spiritual and social space for to share their lives and faith. In this time of uncertainty, with our churches closed to the public, things are particularly difficult. The Kairos Forum is providing valuable resources. Visit the Kairos site or the CBCEW page: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/our-work/health-social-care/coronavirus-guidelines/accessible-communication/ You can find a signed Mass here: https://www.churchservices.tv/pottersbar/embed
Join with Pope Francis and Catholics across the world in daily prayer, Mass, and Angelus from the Vatican News website: https://www.vaticannews.va/en.html. NORES also have prayers and refections, including information on spiritual communion, a priest’s reflection on saying Mass on his own, and lovely Stations of the Cross: http://www.nores.org.uk/SCHOOLLEADERSHIP/COVID/tabid/172/Default.aspx
Our parishes are suffering a dramatic fall in income with the churches closed. If you usually give by cash or envelopes, you can set up a standing order which will really help your parish through these uncertain times. You can also give a one-off gift. We know that many people are facing financial difficulties at this time, but any help would be very gratefully received. Find more information here: https://northamptondiocese.org/donate/