IN THE HEART OF THE CRISIS: FIVE THINGS PARISH LEADERS CAN DO
Today, we face a scary and challenging time but there are things we can do to meet this challenge.
Many in our parish and our community are in need as their jobs have been reduced or greatly affected through this crisis. Calls and request for help have increased at the rectory and parish office. More and more people have been pressed into asking for help or seeking help from local food pantries, shelters and outreach agencies. Please know that all of them and you are in our prayers. We have been asked by several diocese and parishes what can be done during this time to help parishes assist those in need. Most masses are not even occurring and, in the large majority of parishes, that will greatly affect their ability to operate normally, let alone attempt to address the increase of need. Below are five key things that parish leaders can do. Please know that Greater Mission is here to assist and support you any way we can.
1. Let God lead us:
Call the people of God to God in humble prayer
- Livestream Sunday and daily Mass
- Instruct in the way of Spiritual Communion
- Invite to pray the Angelus at noon each day, especially on Fridays
- Encourage meditation and contemplation on the daily Scriptures
- Offer aids for praying the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, special Novenas, and praying with your family
2. Connect with every family:
Be present to them, inform, uplift, care, love
- Establish a parish telephone tree or enlist a group of volunteers to reach out by telephone to ten or more parishioners several times per week
- Use Facebook and other social media to remain connected
- Conduct ministry and small group meetings using Zoom or other video share solutions
- Find out if parishioners are sick, and if they need prayer support, encouragement, or other forms of assistance
3. Rally to “who” we are together:
Help your parishioners to appreciate, now more than ever, that we are the Church; the mission of the Church is ours, and all of us have a shared purpose in Christ. The Church is not just an institution, or simply a worthy organization where we “volunteer” or help out with some financial donation. The Church is us. In Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints, we ourselves are changed and charged to be the change that is needed in our world.
4. Inspire to serve:
Help your parishioners to appreciate, now more than ever, that we are the Church.
What can happen in families, friend groups, neighborhoods, communities, and the world? Mother Teresa asked people to do small things with great love. Maybe that is looking out for a neighbor or checking in on a family member via a short text message. People are really hurting. Some are sick. Some are caring for the sick. Some are deeply hurt financially. Some are afraid. There are many ways to serve. Inspire parishioners to look beyond just their own worries and to serve someone in even greater need.
5. Invite faith-inspired charity:
The mission of the parish is vital. Our parishes do not collect fees from those they serve as universities or hospitals do. Parishes are not subsidized regularly by the government. While the mission of the Church is to care for the world, she requires the free and faithful generosity of its members to fulfill that mission. Especially now that some members have lost their jobs due to the crisis, invite the rest of your parishioners to continue their regular giving to the parish, or increase it if possible. Establish or encourage online giving and increase participation. If parishioners cannot give online, ask them to mail their regular contributions to the parish. Paying parish staff, benefits, utilities, insurance is critical to sustaining and expanding the mission of the parish; and all share in that opportunity.