They Needed to be Fed: Vincentian Virtual Pentecost Mission 2020
by Eastern Province Vincentian, Fr. Joe Agostino, CM, International Coordinator, Vincentian Family Office.
In the days leading up to Pentecost, we were gripped with two crippling pandemics: COVID-19 (which was in its third month of forcing society to stay home) and the explosion of anti-racism protests (caused by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police).
People were tired. Having been locked out of their Churches, they needed to be fed and refreshed. Fr. Astor Rodriguez, CM, the pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Brooklyn, NY, wanted to respond to this need.
He conceived an online, Facebook Live, via Zoom, Pentecost Mission for three nights, June 1-3: one night in English, one night in Spanish, and one night bilingual for a parish community that is predominantly Latino and Caribbean-American. Catherine Reed-Grant (St. Louis, Mo) and Denise Lebron (Brooklyn, NY) led us in praise and worship. Fr. Joe Agostino, CM (Philadelphia, PA) preached all three nights on the theme of “Our Life in the Spirit of the Risen Lord.” Fr. Astor led us in prayer for a program that lasted about an hour each night.
It was certainly a unique experience – praying, singing and preaching via Zoom onto a Facebook Live feed! Luckily, we could at least see each other as we engaged in our respective ministries so that there was some direct, human feed-back.
And it was a beautiful experience – to be able to share that moment with each other and over 1,000 others (the average number of viewers of the Pentecost Mission on each evening). In the end, we reached more people through this virtual experience than we would have with only an in-church event.
For us the lesson is clear. We need to continue to do both: gather the community in prayer in the parish church, as we also share it virtually with the domestic church.
There are some technological things which could probably be done better. But in the end, one thing was clear to all the members of the Mission Team – we would like to, or better we need to, do this again!
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