The COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly imposed a new landscape for ministry, social outreach, and communication throughout parish life. While it is one thing to hold an occasional conference call, it is quite another to host a retreat, provide ministerial guidance, or put pastoral support on hold indefinitely. One of the tools proving to be very helpful during this distancing time is Zoom video conferencing. The Zoom system allows participants to see and hear presentations in the comfort and safety of their own homes through their computers, tablets, or phones. 

For the past seven years, I have used Zoom to teach online classes at Santa Clara University, where participants click on a Zoom link, follow simple instructions, and are not required to sign-up or pay for any group use. I find it to be quite effective and as the longevity of social distancing calls us to explore creative ways to support people of faith throughout this difficult time, I have decided to offer “online” webinars to meet specific needs in parishes, dioceses, and other areas of formation and spiritual support. I am also open to providing individual consultations, group guidance in particular area of expertise, addressing identified academic topics, or collaborating on other resource ideas. 

While a presentation or retreat would normally be held onsite for a particular length of time, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on a Saturday, or a 90-minute evening gathering, for example, I am suggesting participants receive resources, such as scripture readings, reflection questions, and related topic materials in advance, so they can bring a background for content that can be presented in a variety of time-frames; 40 minutes intervals with 15 minute breaks during an all-day event, flexible portions each day for a week-long mission, or whatever might seem best for a morning, afternoon, or evening time together. 

Screen fatigue is real, so the goal is to plan in a way that integrates multiple approaches for experiencing and receiving information; input from me, group interaction, discussions between participants, individual reflection, or even shared Q & A opportunities, where individuals can type questions into the comments area. Gatherings can also include one or more follow-up sessions to allow participants time to grasp presented material and delve deeper during the succeeding time together. 

The format for each webinar is flexible and can be adapted to the age, experience, and number of those attending with varying aims, schedules, and topics. A list of my current workshops is available on my website  at www.rickymanalo.org/book-an-event and includes two new themes (below) that hold particular relevance during our present pandemic challenges.


I look forward to supporting you in any way I can during this time of transition and faith. May the Spirit of God abide and bring us tougher in Christ.  

ONE – “Hungering for the Body of Christ Amid Pandemic Distancing”
Who would imagine our church gathering online to celebrate Easter or Sunday Mass on a regular basis? Thankfully, such liturgies are not the norm, however the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to radically reconsider our encounter with the Body of Christ and what fuels our lives of faith. How do we “live and breathe and have our being” through a facemask, confined to our homes, and at a distance from one another? How do we begin to gather again as parishes re-open? Where is Christ amid so much change? This presentation embraces our current “in-between space” and looks at how to sustain our sacramental spirituality during this difficult time for our church, ourselves, and so many people in need. 
TWO – “At the Digital Banquet of the Lord: Livestreaming Masses with Sacramental Integrity”
Safety measures for COVID-19 are still in flux as stores, parishes, and public gatherings decide what is most appropriate for the common good in their locale. While not the ideal, livestream Masses and other online events will no doubt remain one option to keep parishioners connected as parish leaders collaborate with media and technology experts to learn how to best provide for the sacramental and pastoral needs in their community. Yet these experiences also require us to be vigilant for how online practices affect our understanding of the Body of Christ, the liturgical relationships set up by camera placement during specific parts of the Mass, and how to form online presiders, lectors and musicians to promote liturgical engagement, as distinct from serving as online entertainers. This presentation provides a methodology for joining technology with the liturgy and online prayer, examines the advantages and disadvantages of livestream Mass, and contemplates the implications for the future of worship and pastoral ministry. 

© 2014 by Ricky Manalo, CSP.  Created with Wix.com.