I think we can all agree we are in an unprecedented time not only in our country, but specifically in our ministry. Most of us are searching for ways to do what we do in a different, long distance way. Some are worried that the curriculum is not being met, others are learning to use technology for a first time. All in all most of us are simply worried.
I have found great fruit, and great fun in focusing on one group at a time. I find solace in remembering Jesus’ example at Emmaus… he simply walked along with people where they were in their fear. We can keep our eye on that and remember that everyone is in a different place in their hearts and souls than they were two months ago.
For those who work with special needs individuals, the challenge may seem greater to minister to them from a far. It is hard for us all to fully understand the situation of our country right now, and it can be very difficult to be cut off from other people and our normal routines.
I have found that both old school communication and technology have been a perfect match. I have a special needs friend that I am walking with through her journey to the Sacraments (and beyond). We have found that a good way for me to stay in touch with her during this time is to make phone calls and connect with her in that way, but of course that is not the same as being able to see her in real life.
After being sure to work with her mom, in full respect of our Diocese Safe Environment practices, we came up with a plan. Her mom dropped me off her iPad where I recorded some teaching videos for her to use both with her resident workers and when she had time by herself. In the videos I was intentional to speak directly to her and to refer to things we had done before. As I was recording it, I kept in mind Sesame Street, and how those characters connected with people in living rooms across America, by talking directly to them.
One example of our “work” was that I had a book on Reconciliation that we were working on together prior to all this COVID craziness. I read her the book on the video, being sure to address her, ask questions and wait for a response (of course then I gave the answer) and continued on, pointing to the words, etc. Then I gave mom back the iPad and the book for her to practice with in her apartment. It was such a hit that her mom decided to buy her a new device with plenty of storage for videos to be used exclusively for her religious education! (Of course, we cannot expect this type of response in every situation, but it did make it very clear that the strategy is one that works.)
So as we get overwhelmed trying to figure out how to do what we do, keep in mind that there is likely no universal right answer. Think of each situation as its own situation to be addressed. Pray about it! As a good friend of mine recently stated ~ God will tell us what to do next. Think outside the box, outside of your comfort zone. Focus on what a special opportunity this is for us all to grow together!
Til next time ~
p.s. The pic is my friends tree… she loved the Christmas Tree so much that she keeps it up year round and decorates it per season.