Fr. Huber: In the current COVID-19 environment, staying connected is a two-way street, which requires effort from the parish as well as the members. For their part, parish administrators and staff need to identify the most effective means of communication with the parish community. In other words, priests and staff need to determine if the members of the parish favor social media, printed matter, or even voice contact. With this information, the parish is able to provide information in the manner most accessible to the members. On the hand, parishioners who want to stay connected with their parish need to investigate the different platforms that the parish is using to connect with members, by searching for websites, looking for social media outlets, and even calling the parish office.
MQTT: Technology has made it possible to receive the word of God. Still, celebrating together as a community is an integral part of faith. What is something we can do for our community right now?
Fr. Huber: Placing our gifts at the service of the parish community remains a top priority, even in a time of quarantine. As such, praying daily for the spiritual needs of the members is critical, even though you may not know specifics. If you have skills in technology or social media, call the pastor and ask if you can be of help. Additionally, faithful financial support of the parish through online giving or the postal service is important, especially as Sunday contributions have decreased by 30%. Parishes are still responsible for payroll, utilities, and other operating expenses.
MQTT: Social distancing and preventing the potential spread of germs and viruses has us taking inventory of our everyday rituals. Something as simple as a handshake is being discouraged, yet, it's an important part of celebrating Mass. Do you know what a Mass will look like in a "new normal?"
Fr. Huber: This is a great question that demands a lot of openness to new possibilities. Keeping the end in mind is going to be key, as we imagine what the celebration of Mass will look like. Above all, the Church will want to keep the focus on our worship of God in thanksgiving for the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, which offers us the promise of eternal life. In the celebration of the Eucharist, we remember and make present again this sacrifice. Obviously, the gathering and participation of the community is central to the celebration. As such, I can imagine that various elements that express community but are not essential to community may be reserved or limited, such as the sign of peace. I also think the changes will be parish-specific rather than universal.
What message do you have for the Class of 2020?
Fr. Huber: My message for the Class of 2020 is simple. If you want to transform your life and the lives of the people with whom you live, work, and play, do two things: acknowledge people by name and say thank you. I have discovered that people want to know they have been seen and noticed. Pronouncing their name and expressing your gratitude for their contribution will go a long way to creating unity and aligning purpose.
What's the first thing you plan on doing when we resume our everyday lives?
Fr. Huber: The first thing I plan to do when our economy re-opens and we are able to move about freely is meet my friends for a drink and a meal at a local restaurant. I cannot imagine a better way to conclude a time of quarantine than to gather with friends and family to share gratitude.