While we don’t know when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, we do know that it eventually will. If we take a moment to imagine the future, we can wonder: What will be different? What will stay the same? For Catholics, our parish life looks anything but ordinary these days. But what will our parishes be like when the restrictions are lifted in a post-COVID world?
Marcel LeJeune, President and Founder of Catholic Missionary Disciples, recently wrote an article about A Bold Vision for the Post-Covid Parish and stopped by Morning Air® to further discuss what Catholic parishes should prepare for when they look toward a post-COVID future.
Marcel began by acknowledging, “There’s no going back. We know as a truth that we can’t go back in time. And I think it’s OK to once in a while say, ‘I wish things were back to normal.’ I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, necessarily. But I think what God really wants of us is not how do we go back, but how do we go forward.”
While looking to the future you may see a laundry list of challenges, but Marcel said that he also sees great opportunity for the Church.
“This is not so much a threat as an opportunity, and God wants to do something in it,” he said. “And so now we have to figure out what God wants to do with it. We look at our parishes and we look at ourselves and we say: if this is an opportunity to go forward and to make changes that are necessary, how can I start to do this?”
When the pandemic first hit and public Masses were closed across the country, parishes got creative in finding ways to bring their parishioners the sacraments and keep them spiritually fed. Marcel pointed out that this creativity doesn’t have to stop when the pandemic does.
“Right now we have so many restrictions that we need to be creative,” he said. “And that creativity should not stop post-COVID. Once this pandemic has slowed down and is done, we need to remain a creative Church that has mission on our mind.”
“And that mission mindset can help us to see who is part of our mission. Well, that’s the world. And what is my mission? It’s to help make disciples, and then help those disciples go out and make other disciples. That’s my job. That’s your job. That’s the Church’s job. And to do that takes creativity, because the things that worked 100 years ago may not work today with the people who are far from God.”
Marcel also pointed out that some of those who are far from God in a post-COVID world may be those who sat in the pew next to us pre-pandemic. It is likely that some Catholics have gotten used to not going to church on Sunday, and don’t have any plans to return. That means Catholics need to not only evangelize and reach out to those who have been away from the Church for years, but also those who have been away for just a few months.
“That means the rest of us who are Mass-going Catholics who want to return to Mass or have returned to Mass need to have an eye out for who is not here with us,” Marcel said. “A post-COVID Church needs to be more missional and understand that our mission sometimes even extends to those who may have been beside us in Mass a year ago and no longer are.”
“So let us be the ones who go to them. Let us be the ones to invite. Let us be the ones who pray for them by name, reach out to them, and encourage. That’s really where I think we can help.”
Listen to the full conversation with Marcel LeJeune below: