RE-MEMBERING OUR SUNDAY STORY: A TIME OF WELCOME AND TRANSFORMATION
NWPennsylvania — Colleen Hammon, who offers the children’s liturgy of the Word to little ones at St. Jude Parish in Erie, leans forward in her chair. She is recounting the moment she asked her students what they would have said to Jesus if they had been one of the disciples who encountered him after the resurrection.
One of the boys in the class nearly exploded with his answer:
“Golly, Jesus, it’s great to have you back!” he yelled.
Hammon says she thought, “Post pandemic, there you go. It’s great to be back!”
The story, captured on video, is one of dozens of testimonials that will be made available on parish websites, in social media and on cable television across the Diocese of Erie in the coming weeks and months as part of a new initiative called Re-membering Our Sunday Story. Parishioners also will be invited to share their own pandemic-related stories, whether in writing or by posting selfie-videos.
“The goal of this initiative is to ensure people feel welcome, to reflect on what we’ve been through, and to be intentional as we begin returning to life in a post- pandemic world,” says Deacon Steve Washek, executive director of the Office of Faith Formation. “We don’t want to come back as though nothing has happened. We are exploring ways we can use what we have been through to transform what we experience when we gather in community and when we receive the Eucharist.”
The “Sunday Story” effort is not happening in isolation. In fact, it is building on what began when Key Indicators of a Vibrant Parish were introduced as part of pastoral planning in 2015. Staff members involved with planning, clergy continuing education, the Office of Worship, the Communications Office and the Office of Faith Formation all have been laying the groundwork for a coordinated effort moving forward.
Priests are becoming more familiar with the “Sunday Story” initiative at Emmaus this week, as Bishop Lawrence Persico introduces plans that will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months. In addition to the videos, parishes will have access to prayer cards, ideas for reaching out to parishioners who feel hesitant about returning to
Mass, bulletin announcements, social media posts, and more. Bishop Persico also is preparing a pastoral letter designed for reflection and discussion. It will not only look back on the pandemic experience, but also call parishioners to a deeper understanding of both community and Eucharist.
Later this fall, Bishop Persico will meet with priests in each of the three vicariates of the diocese to discuss preliminary plans to begin a significant — perhaps year-long focus on the Eucharist.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had an opportunity to pray and study together as a diocese,” Bishop Persico says. “I look forward to some robust conversations with our clergy as we determine the best way to make that happen.”