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That “Other” Virus

by | Aug 28, 2020 | Formation, Reflections

Followers of Vincent and “the other virus”

Yes, there is another virus! Everybody is talking about it. Yet few seem to have made the connection that it is spreading like a virus. Once infected it spreads by community contact. The more severe infections can lead to “Zoom Fatigue.” But beware of the seemingly lesser infections that can drastically change the way you live.

Of course, I am talking about the phenomenon called “zooming.” In many ways a cousin of COVID, it is now so widespread that as of July 2020 the venerable Oxford English Dictionary recognized it as a new word to be added to its standard dictionary.

In the classical sense of the word “to move quickly,” zooming has zoomed into our lives out of nowhere. Neither COVID nor Zooming were part of our vocabulary as of January 1, 2020.  Just as COVID, it has changed the world as we know it. It has changed our lives– the way we relate to people, work, worship, and also how we minister, and form ministers.

Much has been written about how it has changed our lives in general. Few have written about how zooming has changed the way we worship, minster, and form ministers.

Zooming and the Vincentian Charism

Although someone probably has, I am not aware of anyone writing about the impact of Zooming on the Vincentian Charism. I offer this “Mindwalk” as personal reflections. In many ways this is a companion piece to COVID 18 and the “Vincentian Thing” which focused on the charism as a “good virus”.

First some history

In the early morning hours of the digital age… 1998, Fr. Robert Maloney set in motion the formal entry of the Congregation of the Mission into this new age.

First, as Superior General, he asked that the multilingual website created to foster awareness of the 1998 General Assembly be repurposed as a digital newspaper for the Vincentian family. FamVin.org marked the entry of the Vincentian Family into the digital age.  Then, with practical insight, he asked that every province in the Congregation install, and use, a relatively new technology of the fax machine. He also recommended that every province develop a website in what is sometimes called the “digital continent.”

Why?

His mandate was rooted in a vision of the internet as a means of information, formation, and ministry in the context of this developing world. Over the last 20 years, FamVin developed and explored each of these three facets.

Fast Forward to today

The necessity for physical (not social) distancing woke up the world to the possibilities of digital communication. No longer just the fad for “early adopters,” people began to realize the real importance of digital communications as a vehicle for information, formation, and ministry.

With churches closed, we began to realize that TV Masses for shut-ins were just the beginning of rethinking the possibilities of worship.  It is not only secular education that has been plunged into a digital rethinking.

One of the more exciting developments has come out of the Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission under the umbrella of Catholic Team Works. Here I can only offer the links.

Many of our ministries have found they can use Zoom and related technologies to minister in this newly discovered digital continent. Here are a few from just the month of September.

September 1 – An International Missionary Vocation Festival  (complete with simultaneous translation)

Preparing for a Provincial Assembly of the Daughters of Charity (The Province of Great Britain and Australia have Merged}

Mary’s Miraculous Medal is inviting its nearly 3 million Facebook followers to live streaming …

September 7 from the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia (Livestream) Mass at 12:05 pm to celebrate the Feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam.

September 27 from the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia (Livestream) Mass at 12:05 pm to celebrate the Solemnity of the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul.

What are your thoughts about

  • Zooming as a tool of ministry for the followers of Vincent and Louise
  • How important it is to be present on this Digital Continent?

The post first appeared on Vincentian Mindwalk which also has an audio version of the reflection.

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