Thanks to livestream Masses and virtual meetups, the University remains a spiritual community during this time of social distancing.
Every weekday morning, a Mass is offered for the members of the Catholic University community; those suffering from COVID-19 and caring for the sick, and the development of effective treatments to end the global coronavirus pandemic. The Franciscan friars, including University Chaplain Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Conv., offer the Mass from their Friary Chapel. And on Sunday evenings, they celebrate Mass in Caldwell Chapel. While both sacred spaces are almost empty due to the pandemic, the friars take comfort in the fact that each Mass is livestreamed to the larger University community on the Campus Ministry and University Facebook pages.
“Right now so many people are grieving that they can’t receive Holy Communion,” Father Jude says. “We want to remind people that we really are united as the Body of Christ. The Lord is the source of our strength as a community and the reason we exist as a University.”
Livestreamed Masses are just one of the many ways the Office of Campus Ministry is working to keep the University community spiritually connected during the coronavirus outbreak. The team is also offering virtual opportunities for prayer, including livestreamed Praise and Worship Adoration on Wednesdays at 9 p.m., and prerecorded Stations of the Cross and rosary videos released throughout the week.
Father Jude hopes that by joining together through online prayer, students, their families, faculty, alumni, and staff members can find hope during a time of anxiety and fear.
“On Sundays, I’ve tried to make sure that the homilies I’m giving address some of the concerns people are having right now,” he says. “Not being able to be together is a real heartache for our students, staff, and faculty, but I think the Church provides for our needs as we reflect on the daily readings and especially the Gospel. The Mass reading reminds us that Jesus heals.”
Campus Ministry student ministers like Victoria Smith, a senior House minister, are also continuing to work with their community residents, by reaching out to their peers through emails and messages, and hosting events like Bible study or Night Prayer via videoconferencing. Smith says she has found a lot of comfort while connecting with other students through online events.
Students participating in Night Prayer via Zoom.
“When I first got the news that campus was going to be closed, I was devastated because I’m a senior and it’s been a huge part of my life to be part of ministry on campus,” she says. “Logging on and seeing everyone’s faces during our first Night Prayer gave me so much hope. A lot of people are in pain right now, but we can still find a way to stay together. That’s given me a lot of hope and a lot of joy.”
Senior Kayla Gumina, an electrical engineering major from Manalapan, N.J., is a resident minister for upper-level students in Millenium South. She’s been reaching out to her residents once a week to ask for prayer intentions and reassure them that she’s available to talk. She hopes this time of struggle will inspire more young people to explore new prayer options and deepen their faith.
“I’ve been sending my residents resources for novenas for the coronavirus especially and saints to pray to just to give people spiritual guidance,” she says. “I’ve found that prayer is super helpful in alleviating nerves and keeping us steady in our faith even if we can’t attend Mass physically.”
In the meantime, Gumina says she’s finding joy in seeing her friends’ faces in video calls and prayer sessions.
“It’s really great to stay connected because we’re all going through this together and it’s an experience like no other,” she says. “We all miss Catholic University and we want to be back, but this builds solidarity because we’re facing this uncertain time together and we don’t have to go through this alone.”