Churches adapt to keep connected to faithful

Catholic congregations in the Diocese of Lake Charles are using technology to keep parishioners connected to their faith during times of social isolation. Allie Livingston, development director of the Catholic Student Center at McNeese, said the ministry has strategically used the COVID-19 pandemic to take church outside of the building.

“The church doors may be closed but our mission is still open. The virus can’t infect the church’s mission,” she said.

Instead of face-to-face meetings, student leaders are meeting weekly in their discipleship groups and Bible studies utilizing Zoom video conferencing, FaceTime and WebEx.

“We still are there and we’re still providing ministry. It just looks a little different.”

Facilitating online experiences have been a long-time goal of the ministry, she said, and current stay-at-home orders have served as a positive “springboard” to make that goal a reality.

“Knowing people are online, it’s the new public square. People get information there, hang out there and we wanted to be there, as well.”

Because all of McNeese State University’s courses have moved to an online platform, Livingston said it has been a “pretty smooth transition” to get students used to the new format that still adheres to the faith’s mission.

“We’re just taking truth, beauty and goodness to the places people are right now, which is online.”

There has not been as much of a transition to technology with older parishioners at Our Lady of Good Counsel, the home of the Catholic Student Center at McNeese, however, Livingston said the congregation is using more traditional means of communication to keep the parish together. Adult Bible studies are communicating via telephone and while the homebound and nursing home ministry is on pause, phone calls and letters are keeping parishioners engaged, she said.

“It keeps their hopes up and provides emotional and spiritual support.”

Livingston said across all denominations she’s seen a lot of creativity and hopefulness in the ways churches are continuing to spread the message of Christ despite stay-at home orders. “People are finally getting outside of the doors of the church to be church. That gives me a lot of hope in where we’re going.”Church

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