Sherry Hayes-Pierce shares how her parish has worked to meet the challenges of worshiping safely during the pandemic.
In this time of a pandemic the faithful have been challenged to practice the tenets of what defines us as Catholics. July 12 marked three months from Easter Sunday and I remember feeling a sense of peace while we are still in the midst of this turbulent time, because we are able to celebrate public Mass and receive the Eucharist after being separated from the experience for so long.
The next day in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, our Govenor Gavin Newsom, in response to spikes in COVID19 cases, immediately suspended public indoor Masses affecting a number of counties in Southern California. For so many parishes this was a devastating blow to their community, because they don’t have space or staff to imagine alternatives to traditional gatherings.
After having to pivot very quickly in response to ever-changing guidelines, our parish staff already had a plan in place if we had indoor Mass suspended, following our Northern California neighbors in the San Francisco Archdiocese meet a similar fate.
So many of my friends, family and colleagues who also work for the church have adjusted to ministry being done online others have not. The mindset that things will get back to normal continues to lead so many to just wait and pray for God to restore the life we had before.
While so many focus on political aspects of what challenges us to practicing our faith in a meaningful way, I am proud to be a member of a parish staff that has consistently come together to find ways to provide our members with alternative ways to provide spiritual connection to Christ.
Every day during this time I have had to pray to the Lord and Holy Spirit to help me glorify them with my life in virtual ways! My prayer time helped me to focus on what practices could be shared virtually in the absence of being able to physically practice my faith.
When I started my journey as a Catholic social media strategist, I could barely get the clergy members of my parish to provide pictures of them to be shared on social media. Now, a number of them are hosting Facebook Live rosaries and serving as celebrant for Livestream Masses. That’s what a pandemic can do! At the heart of their willingness to enter the new frontier of social media was to reach our members during this time of suspended Masses and isolation from our sacramentals.
Since last March when Masses were suspended in our Archdiocese I have worked from home an average of 50-60 hours a week. From moderating the comments for our morning Mass, to designing and scheduling social media posts to duties as assigned daily. It was so hard some days battling with some members of the team, but again prayer helped me to know which battles to fight and when to surrender for the good of God.
Through this journey because I am working for the Lord, my faith has been strengthened by attending Mass every day virtually, spending time in Adoration virtually through our Facebook page, praying some full rosaries or a few decades daily and at least meeting with my spiritual advisor via Zoom monthly.
For the faithful, where there is a will to connect with our Lord, they will find a way.
Even as so many struggle with understanding God’s will during such a challenging time I find peace in chanting daily during my time in Adoration, Jesus I trust in Thee! Because so many of our faithful volunteers are in the high risk group and opting out of serving, we have seen young people step up to volunteer in a variety of ways. We have also seen some of our staff make the decision to leave ministry to open up opportunities for the next generation to serve.
Every Wednesday I lift a portion of the previous Sunday’s homily from our pastor to share on “Hump Day” as a source of inspiration to our followers. This was what I shared for our reflection last #WisdomWednesday.
There is an aphorism that you may have heard: “The only constant in life is change.” So my prayer is not about things returning to how they were, but how God can use me to help others adapt to the change or like the next generation’s rallying cry “ To be the change you want to see in the world.”
Pray for a cure to COVID19 and for peace to those who need it in mind, body, or spirit.
Copyright 2020 Sherry Hayes-Peirce
Images copyright 2020 Sherry Hayes-Peirce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Sherry Hayes-Peirce is a Catholic social media strategist, blogger, conference speaker, podcast guest and contributing author of the Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers. She serves as Digital Engagement Coordinator for American Martyrs Catholic Community in Manhattan Beach, CA, and St. Monica Parish in Mercer Island, WA. Sherry has a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and is grateful to be a digital disciple of Christ.