Participants: Mirella Bernier, Pauline Leduc, Gord, and Louise MacMillan, Anne Hampel, Diane Boisjoli, Frida Abaroa, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, Julie Cool, Pierre-Alain Giffard
As the virus continues to circulate and we are in the middle of confinement, how do our communities help parishioners live out their faith? How do they celebrate? How do we get involved and invite community members to get involved? How do our communities adjust to this particular context? What initiatives are developing in communities? How can we share these initiatives? These are some of the questions that fuelled the exchanges between the participants of this meeting. The goal was to listen to each other, to exchange and reflect on the ways of being and doing Church in this time of crisis. First, we shared what is currently happening in the parish communities, in particular on the organization of the celebrations while the number of participants is reduced to 25 in our Sunday assemblies. Then we discussed the needs around us, and what we could do together to meet these needs...
This time of pandemic has brought to light these needs :
- Isolation and loneliness, particularly among the elderly in CHSLD
- People need to talk
- Mental health needs
- The needs of the homeless
Initiatives in our parishes
While it is true that this crisis brings to light the fragility of our Christian communities (a situation we already knew before), it nevertheless gives rise to creativity. Here are some examples of what people/communities are doing :
- Some parishes have revamped their web sites to improve communication with their parishioners
- Several parishes have used technology such as You-Tube or FB live to telecast Masses
- One parish projects the Mass in the basement while it is being celebrated in the church. Communion is then brought down to the people in the basement.
- One parish has held its parish fundraising dinner differently this year – people ordered their meals and picked them up in a drive-through fashion.
- The Knights of Columbus are holding drive-through food drive
- People are experimenting with on-line faith formation options such as a bible study available through Ascension Press and a marriage preparation program (Joy-filled Marriage). They are considering extending an invitation to others in the parish to join them.
- Some people are organizing biblical catechesis sessions (as proposed by Yves Guerette) with other parishioners, praying with the readings of the upcoming Sunday.
- Parish-based Saint-Vincent-de-Paul group is keeping in regular phone contact with their “clients” and preparing care packages to deliver to them.
- Some people send out daily reflections to an e-mail list. These are appreciated.
Some of our challenges :
§ Many people are not on-line, and thus have no contact with the community. How can we keep in touch with them by phone? (There was discussion of privacy concerns regarding phone numbers, but the response was that if a small group of people was authorized to use the phone numbers of parishioners to reach out to them, there would be no problem)
§ It is difficult to visit people with the current restrictions (though it is possible, for humanitarian reasons, to visit the shut-ins – and to even bring communion to them. Diocesan guidelines allow ministers to the shut-ins to bring communion to people, however this is limited to one person per day)
- Could we somehow communicate (phone/on-line platform/letters) with people in care homes (like CHSLD)? Could we pray for them as a community and let them know that we are praying for them? (Julie will contact Joanne Dugré to discuss this option)
· The daily talks by Mgr Durocher in the spring were greatly appreciated. Could these be offered again?
· Could we circulate helpful information to people who are suffering from loneliness (list of “how to ‘do’ being alone?”
- Could we institute a ministry of taking communion to those who cannot come to Mass (following strict protocols, of course)?