If the dark cloud of the depressing COVID-19 pandemic has a shining silver lining, it is today’s technology that allows us to ‘be’ with each other, if only virtually.
Throughout the Diocese of Orange, bishops, priests, and parish leaders are harnessing the power of tech to create prayers, meditations, Masses, and many various methods of growing closer to God and each other.
“Catholic Family Minutes,” an online series of meditations, offers viewers creative insights into Catholicism, as well as concrete ways we can deepen our faith.
Available via the Diocese of Orange’s Facebook page, the series features Katie Dawson, diocesan director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation. Dawson, who earned a master’s degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame, also is a mother and grandmother and a highly regarded, longtime church leader at parish, regional, and national levels.
Uniquely qualified to offer advice and ideas to Catholic families, Dawson has a direct, down-to-earth delivery, a steady, blue-eyed gaze, and a calming voice that, taken together, make each episode positive, pleasant, and powerful. She says the series began taping in early August; to date five episodes are available and more are planned.
“In our discussions about the pandemic and life of faith at this moment, Bishop [Kevin] Vann thought it would be good to get a mother’s voice into the conversation,” Dawson recalls. “Our aim is to highlight the rhythms, resources, and practices available to help families and everyone to love and live well.”
Designed to be quick and yet meaningful, each episode clocks in at less than three minutes. “Our thinking is that right now we need bite-sized pieces of inspiration and encouragement – not a college-level, academic course.”
All of the themes, she says, revolve around developing and deepening our faith perspectives while encouraging us to follow Jesus.
“In this moment of crisis, we need to return to our foundational truth,” Dawson explains. “We think of Emmanuel as a song we sing at the holidays, but Emmanuel is the promise that God is with us, Jesus is with us.
“So, if we can find Christ in this moment and respond to His invitation to be with Him in this moment, we will live in love more successfully.”
Now and always, she notes, our perspective should be one that is rooted in Christ. “These minutes are one more piece in a constellation of resources that the Diocese of Orange provides,” she says, including frequent messages from Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer, livestreamed Masses, and meditations and messages of encouragement from many other church leaders.
Dawson hopes that “Catholic Family Minutes” will become a resource for parishes to provoke conversation at church meetings, as well as opportunities for home reflection.
“Catholic Family Minutes” serve as reminders of our identity and our call, she adds, and encourage us to remain grateful for everything God has given to us.
“The people who are doing well in this moment are those who are connected to others they are serving and caring for,” Dawson observes. “It speaks to the fundamental truth that we are made to give and serve and love, and when we do those things, we are well.
“When we become preoccupied with our own losses, concerns, and fears, we don’t do well.”