The annual murder mystery party organized by Faith Connections and Newman Young Adult Ministry in Toronto is not being cancelled due to COVID-19, but instead reimagined on Oct. 30 as virtual theatre. Photo courtesy Faith Connections

Faith Connections offers ministry with virtual twist

  • October 21, 2020

In a world free from a pandemic’s grasp, the young adult ministry Faith Connections would have a vibrant suite of in-person fellowship and faith formation events slated for the next three to six months.

But offering programming in a world with COVID-19 necessitates a continual reading of the terrain from Sabrina Chiefari, the interim program director of the Toronto-based organization.

“This high level of uncertainty has led us to really just looking two or three weeks ahead, which is a really significant logistical adaptation,” said Chiefari.

Faith Connections is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Toronto. It welcomes young adults 18-39 searching for ways to grow spiritually, deepen their faith and build community.

Living in Canada — and particularly Ontario and Quebec — since the middle of September has, in many ways, evoked March and April when the pandemic first began taking its toll: navigating day-by-day life is very much a foggy proposition as the potential for more sudden closures and restrictions loom large. (Log on to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you are bound to see somebody post or share a meme quipping that we are living through the longest month of March ever).

Shifting back to strictly online programming for the foreseeable future is an adjustment Faith Connections has made to safeguard public health and safety.

Faith Connections has been working on the fly in recent months. It re-designed a hike and prayer excursion to Black Creek Pioneer Village open-air museum as an online gathering on Oct. 3. Organizers led a PowerPoint presentation that showcased facts and tidbits about landmarks such as Roblin’s Mill, Fisherville Church and the Rose Blacksmith Shop. Reflection questions sprinkled throughout the presentation encouraged audience engagement.

The Theology on Tap lecture series has had to adapt as well. It has continued online this autumn, with the next event scheduled for a 7 p.m. start Oct. 26. Educator, youth minister and pastoral assistant Lisette Romero of Peterborough, Ont., will guide a presentation entitled “Saint in Our Jeans.” The event has been scheduled for Nov. 24.

“She is so passionate about the topic, and there is a lot of discussion about sainthood right now with the recent beatification (of Italian teen Carlo Acutis),” said Chiefari. “She’s sharing that sainthood is an accessible idea and not just a constant picture of a medieval figure with a halo around their head. It can be something a lot more intimate and close to home.”

Acutis, who died in 2006 at age 15, was sanctified on Oct. 10 in recognition of a website he designed cataloguing all eucharistic miracles throughout history and for an act of healing attributed to him.

While staging this seminar online does present certain limitations compared to the traditional in-person Theology on Tap gatherings, Chiefari ensures it still evokes the traditional pub or restaurant ambiance.

“I happen to have a small, old-fashioned bar at my house, so I do the presentations in front of the bar just as a little way to offer the experience as it should be,” chuckled Chiefari.

The annual murder mystery party is also rejigged as a virtual experience in 2020. On Oct. 30, Newman Young Adult Ministry and Faith Connections co-host a livestream performance of the Agatha Christie mystery And Then There Were None.

Visit the Faith Connections Facebook page to keep tabs on what’s coming next.

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