The Covid-19 pandemic has caused widespread death and physical, social, emotional and spiritual suffering on an unimaginable scale. As someone with over 30 years of experience in Catholic lay ministry, I know full well that our churches have not been spared. Ironically, the siege of this virus has closed our church buildings and broken our hearts as it has separated us physically, and deprived us of the solace and spiritual connection which the institutional sacraments of the Church provide, especially in times like this. We commemorated Holy Week more like the first disciples than many Christians have in centuries – behind locked doors, in fear and trembling. We will likely continue through this Easter Season and into summer’s Ordinary Time amid anxiety, and often overwhelming questions about the future of ministry.
In light of the devastating human and financial impacts to our churches and our ministry organizations, we find ourselves forced to spiritually “vaccinate” ourselves against the temptation that we simply must wait for some time before getting “back to normal.” For the Risen Christ, there is no “back to normal.” There is only the ever-new mission to “proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15). There is an invitation to a “new normal.” In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some practical and reflective resources here as small parts of the great thinking being done in the whole Church about how to weather the storm, recognizing we are all “in the same boat” as Pope Francis has said. There will also be space to lift up good practices that may help communities address both pastoral need and practical realities and to consider the broader implications.
First, I would like to share a crowdsourced ministry resource sheet for Covid-19. It is the product of reaching out to national Catholic ministry organizations with which I work on a regular basis, and identifying good resources that may be helpful in addressing some of the pastoral, strategic and financial challenges we face. The usual caveat applies: Resources which contain legal or financial advice should not be construed as being offered by me and should be further discussed with appropriate parish, diocesan or organizational lawyers or financial consultants who are capable in such matters. While these resources have a Catholic focus, they may be helpful for Christians of all denominations.
I will continue to update this resource on a regular basis based on new information I receive from trusted sources. Anyone may submit suggested resources using email contact information provided in the document.