"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11
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Tools and Tips for Working & Ministering Remotely
As you know, there are many platforms you can use to communicate with your team and those you minister to during the COVID-19 emergency. If you are still looking for the ones you are going to use, here are a few suggestions you might want to take a look at:
As leader of a group, you will have to help others deal with anxiety and stress during the crisis we are facing. Prayer and spiritual considerations will be important, but you will also want to take a look at some general consideration on how to deal with anxiety. Here is an article that can help you prepare for that.
Reach Out to Everyone
Millions of people are now unemployed as a result of the coronavirus shutdown. Help unemployed workers in your parish see that God is working in their lives with this free resource.
One of our first and most important recommendations to all pastors and ministers in the middle of this unprecedented situation is, make an intentional effort to reach out and remain in contact with your people, starting with the most vulnerable ones. Parishes in San Antonio are doing this via email, phone, Facebook, letters, and text messages. Early on the development of the COVID-19 emergency, Our Sunday Visitor published an article that inspired parishes and groups throughout the country precisely to do this: communicate, communicate, communicate.
To make things easier for you and your team, here is a possible outline you can follow when reaching out to the members of your community. Feel free to customize the form according to the needs and characteristics of your group.
Need help reaching out to your whole group? Consider building a phone tree with the assistance of a few members of your team. Simple as it is, this method has the advantage of allowing you to reach out to all the members of your group in a personalized way (rather than simply using social media or group text). Here is a brief description of how that would look like.
What is prayer?
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart;
it is a simple look turned toward heaven,
it is a cry of recognition and of love,
embracing both trial and joy.
St. Therese of Lisieux
The trying circumstances we are all facing are the ideal ground for the renewal of our prayer life. For some, it will be an opportunity to start praying for the first time at all. To support you and your group on such effort, here are a few paying resources that are specially connected to this emergency.
On March 25, 2020, Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Pope Francis invited all Christians to pray together the Our Father for the end of the COVID-19 outbreak. Let us follow the Pope’s example and pray over and over again the words that Jesus taught us, considering that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God, who is constantly attentive to our needs:
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, is inviting us to pray this prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe during the COVID-19 emergency.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, has recommended the praying of the Holy Rosary during the COVID-19 emergency. Here is a simple guide on how to pray this ancient Marian prayer.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, has recommended the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy during the COVID-19 emergency. Here is a simple guide on how to pray this beautiful prayer.
For centuries, Catholics have used this prayer to request the urgent assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in their most pressing needs. Written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th Century, it is a beautiful brief prayer that you can easily memorize so you can pronounce it throughout the day, as millions of Catholics have done before.
This webpage offers a long list of Catholic prayers. It offers a special section on prayers for times of trial you might want to share with your loved ones, the members of your young adult group and their families.
This podcast offers a wonderful opportunity for daily prayer around the readings of the day.
Millions of Catholics throughout the ages have exercised the practice of making an examination of conscience at the end of their day. Use this app to engage in this useful spiritual practice that will allow you to become more aware of what God has to say to you in your everyday life.
The Power of the Eucharist
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the way we receive the sacraments in our daily lives; nevertheless, Jesus Christ, present in the Holy Eucharist, is still presiding over our churches and is attentive to all our needs. From the Tabernacle, he constantly guides the efforts of His Church in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Although we have all been dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass while the emergency lasts, masses are still being celebrated daily throughout the Archdiocese under the applicable social distancing guidelines. Many of such masses are being live-streamed through the internet so we can follow them from home. In many parishes, priests are still hearing confessions, usually under appointment. Funerals are still being celebrated, and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller has even ordained four new priests for our Archdiocese in a series of individual celebrations in the San Fernando Cathedral.
It is not business as usual for anyone, and we are all striving to see what we can do to keep on serving one another.
As things develop, here are a few resources you, your family, and your young adult group can benefit from when it comes down to the sacraments:
Whenever we are not able to receive the Eucharist at Mass, the Church encourages us to make an act of “spiritual communion” through which we unite ourselves to God by prayer. It is a way to express to God our desire to be united with him that the Saints have lived and suggested for centuries.
Use this link to spend some time online in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Sacraments of Initiation and Reconciliation/Confession as of 05/19/2020
In the Archdiocese of San Antonio, General Absolution is not approved at this time. As long as churches can remain open, priests can hear confessions in the church or by appointment, following the requisite sanitation procedures and social distancing guidelines, to include the use of masks.
Infant Baptism may take place in parishes at the discretion of the pastor so long as social distancing and sanitation procedures are followed, to include the use of masks.
First Communion for children may be celebrated at the discretion of the pastor and according to the requisite sanitation and social distancing procedures, to include the use of masks.
For all adolescent students prepared for Confirmation and for baptized, Catholic adults who have already received first Communion and have been prepared for Confirmation: According to correspondence sent to all pastors earlier this month by Archbishop Gustavo, a date is to be set by each parish for Confirmation. This date is to be between June 16, 2020 and August 31, 2020. The requisite sanitation and social distancing procedures are to be followed, to include the use of masks. When the date has been set (only one if at all possible), please inform Linda Ramirez at the Office of the Archbishop at of (1) the date and time of the celebration as well as (2) the full name - and saint’s name - of all of the confirmation candidates by June 15, 2020. This date presupposes that the pastors who will be transferring to another parish on July 1, 2020, will set the date prior to leaving the parish so that the incoming pastor has the information. Once the Archbishop’s Office has received this information, the Archbishop will issue a specific rescript giving each pastor faculties to confirm those adolescents and adults on the submitted list on the specific date the pastor has identified for his parish. If assistance is needed in planning the Confirmation mass, please contact Grace Rodriguez or Fr. Heliodoro Lucatero in the Office of Liturgy and Christian Prayer.
Please be aware that as of very recently, the Archdiocese has been informed that there are pending instructions from Rome regarding anointing at the Confirmation celebration. This information will be communicated to pastors and pastoral ministers as soon as possible.
Recommendations for Parish Activities (Outside of Mass & other Liturgies) as of 05/19/2020
The principles of social distancing remain in effect for the foreseeable future. This includes wearing masks, maintaining a six-foot radial distance from other people who are not members of one’s household, and holding meetings in spaces large enough to allow for such distancing.
If organizational or ministry meetings can occur on-line, then this practice should continue whenever possible.
Priests, other parish ministers, staff, or volunteers who meet with individuals should be careful to wear masks and maintain a six-foot distance. Confessions, spiritual direction, or pastoral counselling should be conducted in a place that allows for such distancing, yet maintaining privacy.
All in-person meetings must follow social distancing protocols. Parish staff should wear masks at work and maintain the six-foot radial distancing.
Regular parish formation such as religious education, RCIA, Scripture study, youth ministry, etc. may take place following social distancing and sanitation guidelines, to include the use of masks.
With regard to a restart of any food service parish ministry, any and all food preparers must wear masks, gloves and strictly follow all sanitation and food safety procedures. Food should be served in individual covered containers/wrappers and picked up by recipients for “take out.” This applies to all activities and fundraisers involving food, such as breakfast tacos, bake sales, plate sales, etc.
Updates will be provided as additional information becomes available.
Embracing the Cross
Helpful as online resources -such as the live streaming of the Mass- are, it makes no sense to deny that we are experiencing myriad losses that pierce our hearts.
Under these challenging circumstances, there is no shortness on opportunities for us to join Christ in the Cross through the many things that afflict us every day.
Here is an article from Our Sunday Visitor that might be helpful while reflecting on how the Cross is now a part of our everyday.
The Stations of the Cross are an old Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ's last day on Earth. The 14 stations are commonly used as a mini pilgrimage. At each station, the individual recalls and meditates on a specific event. Here is a link to a Virtual Stations of the Cross created by Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
Here is an article that might be helpful while reflecting on how the suffering that surrounds us in this time of tribulation demands from us a renewed commitment to serving others, starting with those who are in greater need.
Learning Opportunities and Formation Resources
Got some time to learn more about your faith? Here are some resources that might be useful to you and the members of your young adult group.
Spend Easter season sharing the joy of the first disciples by downloading the free reflection booklet by Bob Burnham. Reflect on scenes from the lives of:
• St. Mary Magdalene
• St. Peter
• Cleopas on the road to Emmaus
• St. Thomas
• St. Stephen
• St. Paul
As they encountered Jesus in the days and weeks after the Resurrection, we are called to share the Good News in our day and age. Ponder the stories of these early disciples, and explore the lessons they have for us as catechists called to evangelize. Each reflection also includes “In the Classroom” ideas to use with young people in your parish or school.
The present circumstances offer an outstanding opportunity for us to share our faith with others. This article provides an interesting explanation about the nature and the power of the Eucharist and the why and how of making a Spiritual Communion. Read it… and share the good news with others!
Christus vivit (Christ is Alive) is the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis wrote after the Synod of Bishops, on young people, faith and vocational discernment. It is addressed "to young people and to the entire people of God", and it is MUST READ for anyone who is involved in Young Adult Ministry, as well as for whoever wants to know which is the message that the Church has today for the youth and young adults of the world. Here are the links to the Document and the Study Guide OSV offers on its website.
Are you one of those who’s just not satisfied with a mediocre existence? Then Pope Francis has written you a beautiful long letter that you don’t want to ignore. Here are the links to the Document and to an introductory video that is worth your time.
Want to learn more about the social teachings of the Catholic Church? This CRS-USCCB video series will provide an excellent introduction to what it takes to live the commandment to love God and our neighbor in our everyday life.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is the teaching document of the Catholic Bishops of the United States on the political responsibility of Catholics. It provides guidance for all who seek to exercise their rights and duties as citizens. As Catholics, we bring the richness of our faith to the public square, something that is especially needed in a time like this. Here are the links to the Bishops’ Document, a set of discussion questions you might want to explore in an online session with your group, and a series of videos that will make it easier for you to share the basic content of the document with others.
Ascension Presents is a project of Ascension Press that aims to use short YouTube videos to present the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith and to answer the longings of the human heart with the transformative power of the Gospel. Many of their videos touch on topics that will be of the natural interest of young adults.
FORMED is an online platform where you can find video programs that explain the Catholic faith, explore the deepest meaning of marriage, receive Bible studies on a variety of topics and includes inspiring audio talks, and more. For now, the Augustine Institute Formed team is offering a complimentary 40-day subscription so that Catholics can watch, read, and listen to Catholic content through their platform.
This podcast offers inspiring stories about Catholics who are living out the call to love in their daily lives. Many topics will be of the natural interest of young adults.
The saints are inspiring figures that the Church places in front of us as examples of how we are called to live our lives in Christ’s Love. Use this link to learn more about the ones that are celebrated each day of the year.
Share the Faith!
Difficult times are, by their very nature, times on which the importance of sharing the depth, comfort, challenges, and beauty of our faith becomes particularly clear. As we find ourselves and the ones we love facing serious questions and deep existential challenges, we experience an urgent calling to live our call to be faithful Missionary-Disciples of Jesus Christ, sharing with our friends and family the great message of Love that drives our Church and has transformed our lives. Here are a few resources (many more are available online) that might help you with your task.
Watch this video to remember the importance of sharing your faith with others… especially in this time of great need.
Use this article to grasp the essence and the importance of the Kerygma, which is the fundamental message of the Christian faith that we are called to announce to others in our life.
Take a few minutes to review how Pope Francis describes for the young the three great truths that lie at the heart of our faith: God is Love, Christ saves you, and Christ is alive. These four pages, taken from Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit Exhortation are definitively worth your time!
Use these posters to share with others the three great truths that lie at the heart of our faith: God is Love, Christ saves you, and Christ is alive!
Use this video to help others understand how the love that moved Christ to die for us in the Cross has transformed the world and is still transforming it to this very day.
Catholic belief is succinctly expressed in the profession of faith or credo called the Nicene Creed.
Watch this video to review in a personal way some of the basic truths contained in the Creed. It might help you and others realize that these are not merely truths that you are supposed to know, but the basis of a life that is lived in the Love of God.
Use this video to introduce your friends and family to the nature and the saving power of the Sacraments of the Church.
Use this video to share with others the essence of the life we are invited to live in Christ… and while you are watching it, consider that the Third Part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, dedicated to present, among other things, the Ten Commandments, is precisely titled Life in Christ.
Use this video to introduce your friends and family to the Beatitudes as God’s roadmap to a full happy life. Their message is particularly urgent in the times we are living.
Use this video to introduce your friends and family to the nature and importance of prayer in our lives. As you will see, this message is particularly urgent in the times we are living.
Christians use the Greek word Kerygma to describe the basic truths that are to be announced when sharing the good news of our salvation in Christ. Take a look at this video to find out how to share those truths with the ones you love.
As days go by, the creativity with which young adult ministers are dealing with the COVID-19 emergency is making its way into lists of best practices we can all benefit from. Here are a few that you can prayerfully go through in your search for things you and your group can do. Got any best-practices to share with us that are not yet on the list? Let Aarón A. Castillo know via email.
Donations of canned goods are required! Catholic Charities San Antonio needs your help now more than ever. We need donations of canned goods.
If You Can't Drop Off Food, Donate! If you prefer, you can also make a monetary donation from the comfort of your home to help stock our Food Pantry and support other critical services for the most vulnerable in our community. Use this link to donate online now.
If you can't donate, volunteer! Volunteers are requested to stock the Food Pantry and assemble to-go food bags for the drive-thru at St. Stephen's CARE Center. For individual or group volunteer opportunities during this time of crisis, email Eddie Rocha or call 210-222-1294.