In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, we could turn to fear and panic, worrying about every detail big and small. However, we know that our God is a God of Hope! Our verse for the year seems to fit this Truth: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone.” We know that our God sees us and has conquered the night! Our ministries have an interesting opportunity in this time of unrest to be able to bring the Light of Christ to the families we serve. Please see below for resources that can help you stay connected:
Facebook Groups & Pages for Youth Ministers:
- OUR OWN DIOCESE OF RICHMOND FACEBOOK GROUP
- Catholic Youth Ministers
- Catholic Youth Ministry Discussion
- Life Teen International
- National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
- Project YM
- Not sure how to use Facebook to do something you’ve seen another group do? Check out their “Faith on Facebook Toolkit”
Virtual Platform Help:
The Domestic Church & Creating Sacred Space in Your Home:
- Watch the Mass on EWTN or online. Some of our own diocesan parishes are even streaming Mass each week on their website or on their Facebook page, including the Bishop doing one on the diocesan YouTube channel at 10am on Sundays! Trying to find a live one and not sure where to look? Check out With Your Spirit – they are compiling a list of every Live Streamed Mass schedule in the world!
- Look up the readings on USCCB, read them together or listen to them proclaimed, and listen to a homily via YouTube or a podcast. A podcast homily to start with is Bishop Robert Baron.
- Pray An Act of Spiritual Communion when you can’t physically receive Holy Communion.
- Read a reflection on the daily readings from the Magnificat – it is offering complimentary access to its online version in response to the coronavirus.
- Pick a space in a room to be your sacred space. Move a chair to face a crucifix or saint icon, dim the lights, light a candle, and spend time with the Lord. If you have a hard time sitting in silence, start by playing your favorite worship song or Gregorian chant to help you enter into your prayer time.
- Change your phone background to something that helps you remember to pray throughout the day or reminds you of the liturgical season.
- Does someone at your house play an instrument? Look up the music for your favorite church song and sing praise to God together as a family!
- Pray a rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. If you’re looking for a recording, check out different options on YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify to pray along with.
- Meditate on the Stations of the Cross each Friday in Lent! Read it together as a family on EWTN’s website.
- Have a favorite saint? Look up what their rhythm of prayer would have been every day and pick one or two ways to incorporate that into your own life.
- Attend virtual Eucharistic Adoration around the world by checking out Virtual Adoration
- Pray a Novena for the end to the Coronavirus. Check out the Pray More Novenas website!
- Need to liven up your family’s daily prayer routine? Hear To Pier: Daily Family Prayer for ideas!
- Part of the Domestic Church is maintaining a strong relationship with your spouse. The Joyful Marriage Project has pdf pages with conversation starters and ways to pray together.
- Help your family stay safe in the virtual online world by looking at the the website Protect Young Eyes
Practical Ideas for Virtual and Remote Young Adult Ministry:
- Host your Bible Study through a platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts Meet.
- If you need ideas for online studies, check out The Wild Goose or Formed.org
- For women’s group resources, look at Blessed Is She and Take Up & Read – they have lots of good online studies as well as social media engagement!
- Send out podcast suggestions and then have everyone share their favorite thoughts through a text chain or conference call. Here are a number of great ones to start with:
- Catholic Creatives
- Catholic Stuff You Should Know
- The Culture Project
- Every Knee Shall Bow
- Pints with Aquinas
- Praying Our Way
- Have a few men who want to stay connected and build up their faith? Have them commit to doing Exodus 90 together! Click here for more details.
- Check out Catholic.Social as an option to start conversations about different topics of interest to your Catholic Young Adult Group! See Catholic.Social to check out this free platform.
- Looking for faithful information to share with young adults about health, wellness, relationships, careers, and finance? Connect them to the Grotto Network!
- Think about an activity that your group of young adults like to do together – doing a cooking class, having a painting night – and do it virtually! Send out a list of supplies needed ahead of time so people can be prepared, and then meet-up over a platform like Zoom or Google Hangout for the actual activity.
- Contact a local foodbank, Catholic Charities, or parish and purchase an extra bag of food during your next grocery trip to drop off at the location they suggest! Your small group of young adults can make a huge difference right now.
- Challenge each other to each find one older adult to check on once a week. Maybe it’s a grandparent, maybe it’s a next door neighbor. Call them or knock on their door and talk to them through a window – you can find out if they need anything, share stories of your favorite moments in life, and ask them how you can pray for them!
Practical Ideas for Virtual and Remote Youth Ministry:
- Provide families with modified Life Night or Youth Group outlines so that they can do them as a family at home.
- Host small groups through a platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts Meet. Make sure to have at least 2 VIRTUS-trained adults as the first 2 people on the call!
- Be creative with group messaging apps to help foster small group conversations outside of traditional youth group meetings. Look into resources like GroupMe and Remind
- Call each one of your teens every week that you don’t see them and pray with them on the phone.
- Host a Trivia night through Kahoot.
- Play creative versions of normal youth group games through Zoom
- Invite your teens to Life Teen’s Global Life Night Experience every Sunday night at 5pm
- Sign up to have your parish join Project YM Live! Click here for details.
- Encourage your teens to join Life Teen’s “Lectio Live” YouTube event on Wednesdays at 6pm.
- Share Life Teen’s Summit website with families, and use this time as a way to immerse your youth ministry in the Word of God.
- Refer your teens and parish to blogs on the COVID-19 pandemic that Life Teen just published:
- Ramp up your ministry’s social media game and be interactive: do surveys on Instagram stories, post daily reflections or videos on Facebook, or consider hosting your own virtual Life Night through Instagram Live
- Try out a virtual small group Bible Study from Robert Feduccia
- For online lessons on the intersection of our Catholic faith and current events, check out the Sophia Institute
- Sending birthday cards to teens during this time!
- Have a game night over a platform that lets you share your screen using Jackbox! Just make sure to turn the family settings on for the game you choose.
Practical Ideas for Physically Distanced Youth Gatherings:
- Have a game night! If you need ideas, check out this site:
Ideas for Ministering to Confirmation Candidates:
- Having peer leaders (such as a Discipleship Team or Junior Core Team group) send physical letters to Confirmation candidates to encourage them to keep growing in their faith and to share their own witness story with them.
- Have the adults who helped with this year’s Confirmation sessions and retreat each take 5-10 Confirmation candidates names to call every week and to pray for by name each day.
- Invite your Confirmation candidates to a Livestream Mass Watch Party, and then eat breakfast together over a virtual chat platform.
- If the date of Confirmation is still looming for your group, gather them for a virtual prayer service with their sponsors and your pastor on the day that was originally scheduled to be their Confirmation liturgy.
Ideas for Helping High School Seniors Celebrate Graduation:
- Having 9th graders send notes to 12th graders asking them for advice in high school and having the 12th graders write back.
- Making graduation-in-a-box kits to send to families with high school seniors.
- Start planning a summer Baccalaureate celebration for your parish after the shelter-in-place order is over so that your seniors can reminisce and celebrate together.
- Invite college kids on a group video platform to share with the high school seniors about continuing their faith in college.
- Celebration of “Grads & Dads” where you invite families to drive by the church for a small gift and a blessing by the pastor
- Asking the 10th and 11th grade teens to make a video for the seniors with all their favorite pictures and stories from youth ministry
- Host a Zoom online Baccalaureate celebration! Ask seniors to turn in senior pics, superlatives, and after graduation plans beforehand, then create a video and invite the parish community to recognize these students by broadcasting the Zoom as a Facebook Live
Creative In-Diocese Examples of Virtual & Remote Ministry:
- Saint Michael the Archangel’s Youth Ministry account @mikeslifeteen is using the Instagram Live function on their stories to host “Life Stream LIVE” every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 6:45pm, an online and real-time youth night that teens participate in from their homes. They also did a special-edition combo night with Saint Edward the Confessor’s Youth Ministry @stedyouth – so consider joining forces with another youth minister every once in a while!
- Christopher Newport University has updated their website to include digital ministries here. This includes small groups, prayer groups, and prayer intentions as well as other features.
- Father Matt Kiehl at William & Mary made a video about Spiritual Communion
- Father Chris Hess started a YouTube channel to help his parishioners pray in times of crisis
- Saint Andrew’s Youth Ministry made a “prayer and devotionals resource for teens” booklet that teens can use in the church when stopping by to pray and then take home with them. You can find a picture of it on their Instagram handle @standrew_hs_youth
- Saint John the Apostle’s Youth Ministry is continuing their movie nights through Zoom using the “share screen” feature and then discussing as a group video chat afterwards
- Saint Stephen Martyr is emailing challenges out to their youth group every other day that include a challenge for the teen personally and a challenge for the teen to do with their family
- Church of the Holy Spirit’s Youth Ministry did an in-home scavenger hunt over Zoom.
- Our Lady of Nazareth had a costume contest over Zoom.
- Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is sending Easter cards to all of their families.
- Church of the Sacred Heart in Prince George had their teens each record themselves reading a part of the Passion of Christ in the Gospel of John and then spliced them all together into one mp4 that was sent out to the whole group.
- Saint Michael the Archangel’s middle school youth families were sent a positive list called “101 Things for Your Middle Schooler to Do: Filling Mind, Body, & Soul in Social Distancing Season”
- Church of the Sacred Heart in Prince George has done some great video compilations of their group reading and reflecting on Scripture passages.
- Saint Thomas Aquinas and Church of the Incarnation teamed up to do a virtual Friday night retreat for their Charlottesville youth community and invited high school and college students to be part of it, with separate high school and college small groups as well as talks from Core team members and Eucharistic adoration.
Confirmation Retreat Ideas:
- Provide them a Scripture reading about the Holy Spirit and the Apostles, give them a couple of questions to journal with, and have them do a short prayer service or time of Lectio Divina with their family.
- Ask them to pray a rosary, and send them a list of the names of everyone else who is preparing for initiation sacraments in your parish so that they can lift up one person on each decade or bead of the rosary.
- Have them look up Saints who are from a country they’d like to visit one day, or who did something that they can relate to.
- Send them a video to watch and write a reflection on, such as:
- Who Is The Holy Spirit (Dynamic Catholic)
- Who Is The Holy Spirit (Bishop Robert Barron)
- What Is A Disciple (Nooma Series)
- How To Be A Good Disciple (Father Mike Schmitz)
- How to Hear God in Prayer (Life Teen)
- Living Out Your Commitment to Christ (Emily Wilson)
- Talents & Discernment (Sister Miriam James)
- Some segments and reflection questions from The Wild Goose is Loose & Metanoia series are helpful
- Check out “Greater: Online Confirmation Retreat”
Online Publisher Resources for Youth Ministry:
- Ascension Presents
- Ascension Press
- Center for Ministry Development
- Download Youth Ministry
- Dynamic Catholic
- Life Teen
- My Catholic Faith Delivered
- Pflaum Weeklies
- St. Mary’s Press
Resources Addressing COVID-19:
- Resources for Everything Youth Ministry in the Midst of COVID-19
- Dr. Ed Sri on The Coronavirus and Missing Sunday Mass
- Ministry Leaders Anonymous on Coronavirus & the Domestic Church
- USCCB on Coronavirus