From all of us at the Office for Parish Life, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the COVID-19 virus. As a diocese, our mission is to provide you with the resources you need to facilitate transformative experiences of God for yourself and your families. Below is a list of recommended resources organized by Word, Worship, Community, Service, Ministry Formation and Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Scroll down to find resources in that area.
Family Faith Formation
- Catholic Relief Services–Outreach activities designed for families to do at home! Visit https://archny.org/wp-content/uploads/CRS-Family-Catechesis-Sessions.pdf
- Guide: Moving Faith Formation Online–The Guide is a printed summary of the digital tools, strategies, and resources in the Toolkit. Feel free to download and share this guide with your colleagues.. See it here at https://vibrant-faith-catalyst.mn.co/posts/toolkit-moving-faith-formation-online-moving-faith-formation-online-guide-webinar-video
- Empowering Faith @ Home–We seek to equip and empower your family to:
- TALK with each other about their faith
- PRAY together in ways that are comfortable and comforting
- RITUALIZE their important moments
- REACH OUT in service and support of others.
Discover dozens of creative activities to help you incorporate faith practices into your family routine. Check out www.vibrantfaith.org.
At-Home Family Resources
- Discover NEPA–With classes cancelled, chances are the kids are starting to get a little stir crazy. Okay, maybe they’re really stir crazy. You’ve played all the board games in the house, watched the same cartoons on repeat, and maxed out on screen time. Now what? No worries! We came up with 35 creative at-home activities that are fun for all ages. In these uncertain times, we could all use some smiles and laughs, so round up the kids and enjoy some good old-fashioned family memories. Check our Discover NEPA at the following link: https://www.discovernepa.com/articles-and-stories/35-at-home-activities-for-families/?fbclid=IwAR2j4iMkpjhcFvwthAsHWbwzyE8WzYkrXRyav5_mPSf16r2iW73e60J87Fk
- The Toy Insider–Kids Stuck at Home? The Toy Insider Offers Resources for Families Amid Coronavirus Pandemic–The Toy Insider, one of the toy industry’s most influential organizations and a trusted go-to resource for parents and gift-givers, is offering resources on its website for parents and kids in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. While school, travel, and playdates are put on hold, parents who are working from home may need some help keeping children occupied. Whether you’re looking to keep your kids active, infuse their day with some educational value, or bring the family together at the end of the day, The Toy Insider is here to help.
- Outdoor activities you can do at home during the coronavirus pandemic–Here is a link with a few suggestions on what you can do outside while stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic:: https://www.nj.com/shopping-deals/2020/03/outdoor-activities-you-can-do-at-home-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic.html
- USCCB Catholic Current—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Catholic partners have generously made their resources available to support prayer during these difficult days. Visit catholiccurrent.org
- My Catholic Life–Contains a list of beautiful and powerful Catholic prayers. Saying a prayer, however, is not the same as praying. In order for these words to become true prayer, they must be reflected upon, understood, meant, and the prayer must come from the depths of your soul. Next time you have an opportunity to pray in silence, take one or more of these beautiful prayers and spend time with it. Let it become your own personal prayer and let God speak to you and strengthen you through it. Visit https://mycatholic.life/catholic-prayers/
- Strong Catholic Family–Offers prayer and other spiritual practices for families. Check out http://www.catholicfamilyfaith.org/praying.html
- My Catholic Kids—During the coronavirus national emergency, My Catholic Kids is making its library of Mass videos for the Children’s Missalette available free to all! If you and your children are unable to attend Mass, this is the perfect time to help them better understand the Mass in an environment where kids can ask questions and watch related content. That’s what this page is for! Check out mycatholickids.com.
- Strong Catholic Family–Prayer and Other Spiritual Practices for Families. Visiit http://www.catholicfamilyfaith.org/praying.html.
- Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families–Offers Mass resources and homilies at home. With the current closures of Churches and cancellation of Masses, we are suddenly all feeling the very real impact of the Coronavirus. This site compiles many resources for families wanting to stay connected to the Mass. Visit https://equippingcatholicfamilies.com/2020/03/mass-resources-homilies-at-home/?doing_wp_cron=1585334044.1054570674896240234375.
- Mass Resources for Families—http://www.massexplained.com/mass-resources-for-kids/
- National Association of School Psychologists—Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most schools, places of public gathering, and nonessential businesses are closed, and parents and other caregivers are faced with helping their families adjust to the new normal. This includes trying to keep children occupied, feeling safe, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible. None of this easy, but it helps to stay focused on what is possible in order to reinforce a sense of control and to reassure children that they are okay, and that the situation will get better. Click here for resources from NASP.
- Loyola Press–10 Tips for Teaching Religion Lessons to Your Children at Home: https://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2020/03/10-tips-for-teaching-religion-lessons-to-your-children-at-home/
- USCCB–Parents resources and testimonials can be found at this link: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/parents/index.cfm
Religious Education at Home
The following resources are recommended for offering religious education in your home during the current health crisis:
- Loyola Press (loyolapress.com)
- At-Home Editions: These guides allow parents to conduct catechesis with their children in the home.
- Interactive Session Reviews: Session reviews allow children, parents, and instructors to gauge learning objectives. Results can be emailed to a teacher or catechist along with student questions.
- Study Guides: Single page study guides outline important faith topics in each session.
- Raising Faith-Filled Kids: For parents who may not have the time or confidence to teach a full lesson, this resource provides background on the session and encourages parents to discuss faith topics with their children.
- Pflaum–Children Liturgy of the Word lessons are available. Thanks to Heidi and Christ the King Church in South Bend, Indiana for sharing this with us. Information to download Pflaum’s Children Celebrate leaflet and the coloring activity can be found in the video description. Her instruction is found in this video.
- RCL Benziger–Highly recommended resource that can be done in correlation with the book or can be taught on its own. This series offers grade level learning that can be done at home with their parents. Visit rclblectionary.com.
- Sadlier Connect—If your school or parish is shifting to an online learning approach, Sadlier is providing, free of charge, eBooks for the Sadlier print programs you are using for the remainder of the school year. To access your FREE eBook Site License for Sadlier Religion programs, log in to Sadlier Connect at http://rclblectionary.com/classroom-sessions-year-2019-2020. Username is SadlierStudent, Password is ReadyToLearn!
The following resources are recommended for sacramental preparation:
Penance/First Eucharist Preparation:
- Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart—This is a great Penance/Eucharist program for families and will enable them to pick up where their class left off. Visit https://sacredhearthouston.org/penanceeucharist-activities
- Loyola Press—Offers great resources for First Communion, including a session on the Eucharist and the Mass. Visit www.loyolapress.com.
- Dynamic Catholic—There’s never been anything like BLESSED in the Catholic world for children. With world-class animation, workbooks that are works of art, and catechist-friendly leader guides, First Communion and First Reconciliation prep finally meets children where they are and leads them, step-by-step, to where God is calling them to be. Visit https://dynamiccatholic.com/blessed.
- Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish— This parish in Ohio has come up with an online Confirmation series for parents to do with their children. Each DRE can choose what parts of the series they would like their students to utilize beginning with page 4-Confirmation Session on the Holy Spirit. Jim Merhaut narrates. Visit http://www.ihm-parish.com/apps/search?q=confirmation+introductory+session
- Loyola Press—Confirmed in the Spirit is a comprehensive, flexible, fully bilingual Confirmation preparation program that speaks with relevance to the hearts and lives of young people. Through Scripture, prayer, in-depth content, and age-appropriate opportunities for reflective and active experiences, Confirmed in the Spirit prepares young people for Confirmation and the next phase of their lives as Catholics. Visit loyolapress.com.
- Dynamic Catholic—Are you ready? Most young Catholics are disengaged. Until they are engaged, they won’t absorb information about the faith and make it their own. Are you ready to engage the young people of your parish in a life-changing conversation about the genius of Catholicism? Learn more about Decision Point. Check out www.dynamiccatholic.com.
First Eucharist & Confirmation Retreats
- Our Everyday Life–an online resource that provides Confirmation retreat activities such as scavenger hunts, faith journals, traditional prayer composition and more: https://oureverydaylife.com/catholic-confirmation-retreat-activities-12082336.html
- My Catholic Life–this resource is set up as a tool for RCIA. However, this section on Confirmation can be used weekly at home. Each section covers a different learning about Confirmation: https://mycatholic.life/the-my-catholic-life-series/my-catholic-worship/chapter-4—the-sacrament-of-confirmation/
- First Communion Retreats–The Office for Parish Life can help you plan your First Communion retreat. Please contact Jacki Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
- St. Peter Catholic Church–has developed an at-home First Communion Retreat. Check it out at this link: https://www.stpeterdanb.org/at-home-first-communion-retreat
Confession and Indulgences
Perfect Contrition–With the increasing difficulty for individuals to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation due to the current health crisis, the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton are reminded that by having perfect contrition one can receive the forgiveness of sins, apart from going to confession. Perfect contrition requires the following three things:
- A love of God above all else
- A sincere desire for the forgiveness from sin
- The resolution to go to confession as soon as possible when this health crisis subsides.
- Pastors and Parish Life Coordinators should publicize this information as widely as possible.
Plenary Indulgence–His Holiness, Pope Francis, has granted a plenary indulgence under specific conditions. The faithful who qualify for a plenary indulgence during the coronavirus pandemic are:
- Those suffering from the coronavirus illness
- Health care workers, family members, and others caring for those with the coronavirus (exposing themselves to the virus)
The faithful must do at least one of the following:
- Unite yourself spiritually through the media in the celebration of the Holy Mass
- Recite the Rosary
- Pious practice of the Way of the Cross (or other forms of devotion)
- Recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and a Hail Mary
The faithful must be willing to perform all of the following as soon as possible: (considered the three usual conditions for a plenary indulgence)
- Going to Confession
- Receiving Holy Communion
- Praying for the intentions of Pope Francis
Free Liturgical Resources in Time of Crisis
- Liturgy Training Publications is currently offering several free resources for prayer during this health crisis. These resources are available in both English and Spanish and can be found on their website, www.ltp.org. LTP is also offering free virtual retreats on the various movements of Holy Week and on the Way of Cross. Click here to view the offerings.
- Daily prayer resources such as Magnificat and Give Us This Day are currently offering free digital copies of their resources.
- OneLicense.net is providing two different gratis license options valid through April 15, 2020—one for reprinting congregation music and the other for podcasts or live-streaming. Visit onelicense.net for more information.
Holy Week Directives
- Holy Week Directives—All of the directives issued by Bishop Bambera on March 24, 2020 as well as the update on March 30, 2020 regarding Holy Week during this health crisis can be found by clicking here. Please note that making palm branches available to the faithful is now prohibited.
- Triduum Worship Aid—As part of an effort for parishioners remain engaged in their parish’s celebration of the Paschal Triduum via live-streamed or recorded liturgies, the Office of Parish Life has prepared a general worship aid for the Paschal Triduum that the faithful can use to participate at home. While it doesn’t include music, the resource contains the readings, responses, and explanations of the rites. Readings for the Paschal Triduum will also be printed in the upcoming edition of The Catholic Light.
- Easter Basket Blessing—An Easter Basket Blessing adapted for lay-persons as found in the Book of Blessings is also available so that families can offer the blessing in their homes.
Mass in Time of Pandemic
Pope Francis just approved the new Mass formulary, “In Time of Pandemic.” The usual guidelines for the use of Masses for Various Needs and Occasions apply to this Mass, so it may not be used during the privileged days of Holy Week or the Octave of Easter. The Mass texts and readings for this Mass are available in both English and Spanish.
- Hymns in Time of Crisis—The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada has compiled a free collection of Hymns in Times of Crisis,which provides some useful resources for the current coronavirus crisis. The copyright holders of these texts have graciously agreed to allow limited use of these hymns. Click here for more information.
- OneLicense.net is providing two different gratis license options valid through April 15, 2020—one for reprinting congregation music and the other for podcasts or live-streaming. Visit onelicense.net for more information.
A Prayer for Our Suffering World–Almighty and Compassionate God, through your Son, Jesus, you brought healing to the sick and hope to a suffering world. We pray for all of those who have died as a result of this coronavirus pandemic, and especially everyone infected with this disease now. May they receive the strength to persevere through their suffering, and may those who care for them, medical professionals as well as caretakers, be shielded from this illness. May we develop a greater appreciation for the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to ensure our safety and sustentation. Inspire the hearts and minds of those working towards treatment and vaccines for this disease, so that through your mercy, our broken world may be again made whole. Amen. Office for Parish Life, Diocese of Scranton
A Prayer for Our Uncertain Times–May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake. May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable. May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent. May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options. May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go. May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all. May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home. As fear grips our country, let us choose love. And during this time when we may not be able to physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen. Fr. Michael Graham, S.J.
A Coronavirus Prayer–Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love. Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care. Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another. Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders. Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace. Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace. Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth. Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. Jesus Christ, heal us. – Prayer originated from https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/03/02/coronavirus-prayer
An Examen for Those in Quarantine or Shelter in Place–The Ignatian Examen is a traditional method of prayer—a short, easy way to reflect on your day to become more aware of moments of grace and opportunities for growth. In times of uncertainty and rapid change, such as this time of isolation brought about through COVID-19 quarantine and shelter-in-place directives, taking time to reflect becomes essential. This Examen is adapted to serve as a guide for your prayer and reflection in light of these new and ever-shifting realities.
Pope Francis’ Prayer for Protection from Coronavirus–O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick. At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain, with steadfast faith. You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need. We are certain that you will provide, so that, as you did at Cana of Galilee, joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the Father’s will and to do what Jesus tells us: He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Prayer originated from https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-francis-prayer-our-lady-protection-coronavirus.html
Prayer in Time of Pandemic–Almighty and eternal God, our refuge in every danger, to whom we turn in our distress; in faith we pray look with compassion on the afflicted, grant eternal rest to the dead, comfort to mourners, healing to the sick, peace to the dying, strength to healthcare workers, wisdom to our leaders and the courage to reach out to all in love, so that together we may give glory to your holy name. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. ~ Collect from Masses for Various Needs and Occasions: “In Time of Pandemic”
When participating in the Mass at home through media, consider offering this prayer attributed to St. Alphonsus Ligouri during Holy Communion:
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there, and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
Stations of the Cross
- Stations of the Cross during COVID-19 Pandemic—a setting of the Stations of the Cross that connects the suffering of Christ in his passion to the current pandemic. Click here to read more and to pray this devotion or visit saginaw.org.
- Stations of the Cross in Spanish—prayed from St. Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg. Click here to view.
- We have all lost, and we all continue to lose much, to the Coronavirus Pandemic. From our cherished Catholic community faith practices and gatherings, to family celebrations, to our regular daily routines, these losses can seem endless.
- For an informative (albeit secular) perspective on the universal grieving caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, click here to read, “Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It’s OK To Grieve”. And for additional resources related to grieving, including an option for video streaming (a good alternative during social distancing) please visit our Diocesan Webpage for Grief Support.
Care for Marriages
The stresses being experienced in marriages due to the Coronavirus Pandemic can be minor irritations caused by day upon day of being cooped up together. The stresses can also be much more serious, such as job loss and financial strain, physical illness, death, or new or worsening mental health issues.
It is essential that you safeguard your marriage during these difficult times. One way to begin is to remember that whatever stressors the two of you are facing, you can face them together as a team. It is not “You vs. Me”, instead it is “Us vs. this Problem our marriage is currently facing”. As a team, working with one another (and with God’s help too!), you can begin to make progress in addressing the issue at hand.
For additional ways to help sustain marriage and family relationships, click here to read, “Building Family Bonds during COVID-19”. And for more information, please visit Marriage Enrichment and Marriage Support sections on the diocesan website.
Mental Health Support/ Staying Safely Connected
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently shared this online mental health support resource with our Office for Parish Life: Care for your Coronavirus Anxiety. This site offers a wealth of resources covering such topics as “Anxiety”, “Ask an Expert”, and “Isolation”.
Social connections are known to be key factors in both good mental and in good physical health. Please reach out in safe ways to family, friends, and fellow parishioners and consider making a special effort to contact those you may know who do not regularly benefit from a large social circle. In addition to the pleasures of a simple phone call, consider connecting via Skype, Facebook, FaceTime (for Apple products) or HouseParty. For an additional resource for Mental Health, visit The Catholic Institute for Mental Health Ministry.
Some of the many ways in which the Coronavirus Pandemic is affecting our lives relate to financial and material needs. The links below can help you begin to access the state resources available to help address some of these needs.
- Pennsylvania: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/Services-for-PA-COVID19.aspx
- New Jersey: https://covid19.nj.gov/faqs/get-assistance
- New York: https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/articles/2020/kevin-thomas/covid-19-community-resource-page
At a time when addiction recovery and family support groups may be especially needed, social distancing guidelines make these gatherings difficult, if not impossible. For online resources and virtual meetings, please consider https://catholicinrecovery.com or https://catholicinrecovery.com/virtual-meeting-schedule/.
Ministry to Members of the Deaf Community
An invitation to members of our Catholic deaf and hard-of-hearing community—this is the website of a deaf priest who is celebrating Mass and all of the Holy Week Services with ASL: http://www.frmd.org/?fbclid=IwAR2fzqIeAZE63_6F48YOkQ3m5MOHbi3mWwUUi4kkdyeqsCHXK1fpFX68iLg
Support Your Parish
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges for all of us, including our beloved parishes. Offertory funds lost due to the suspension of Masses have put a strain on the ability of parishes to pay bills and offer services.
Please consider making a gift and support the vital ministries and services your parish provides through the diocesan website. You may select your parish from the drop-down menu on the online form or you may choose “parishes most in need” at the bottom of the list. Gifts of any amount are welcome and all gifts will go directly to the parish you indicate.
Questions or need help making your gift? Contact Jim Bebla at Jim-Bebla@dioceseofscranton.org or at 570-207-2250.
Thank you for your kindness. Please click here for a message from Bishop Bambera.
NFCYM Webinars in Spanish
Friday, April 3, 2020 at 1:00PM
This webinar offered in Spanish is designed for all pastoral leaders ministering among the Hispanic/Latino Catholic community. It will address our current ministerial and economic reality and how it is impacting families and Hispanic Ministry in the United States. Panelists will reflect on the role of the domestic Church and small faith communities during times of crisis and identify practical actions and steps we can take to continue nurturing our faith, strengthening our relationships, and showing solidarity with the most vulnerable.
Panelists include Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, V Encuentro National Coordinator and Assistant Director of Hispanic Affairs- USCCB, Dr. Dora Tobar Director of Family Life & Hispanic Ministry, Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana, Rev. Juan Molina, President of the National Association of Hispanic Priests and Parochial Vicar Our Lady of Guadalupe, San Antonio, TX.
V Encuentro List of Resources
The V Encuentro has compiled a list of resources provided by partners and Catholic organizations that are meant to assist Hispanic/Latino pastoral ministers, parents, and all Catholics. Included are resources, prayers, webinars, lists of online masses and live streams. Visit vencuentro.org to view these resources.
VLCFF Free e-Seminar: Hope in Times of Crisis
Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation of the University of Dayton is offering a free three-week online seminar to support your ministry in the Church during the coronavirus pandemic. The three-week e-seminar begins April 5, 2020. Visit vlcff.udayton.edu for more information or to register.
YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY
Is your parish still trying to figure out how to do live-streaming on Facebook? Click on the following link for a step-by-step guide on how to work Facebook Live: https://nfcym.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/How-to-Use-Facebook-Live.pdf.
National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM)
The NFCYM recognizes these are uncharted waters. During this time, we are ALL called to minister to young people and each other. They are here to assist you in light of the changes brought about by COVID-19. Browse their webpage for numerous resources on how to minister virtually to teens during this time. For resources on Ministry during Crisis, Tools and Resources for Virtual Ministry, Messages of Hope, Resources for Parishes and Priests and more, go to nfcym.org/covid19/.
ProjectYM Live—An Online Catholic Youth Night
It’s simple: teens are able to log on Sunday nights from 8:00 to 9:00pm for a free live broadcast! They even have additional resources for parents and youth ministers to have follow up conversations with your teens after the broadcast. Each broadcast is an hour long and includes games, music, and a teaching from one of the top Catholic youth ministry speakers in the country. Teens will be able to watch the live stream from any device and be part of the BIGGEST Catholic youth night ever! Go to projected.com/live/
Additional Youth and Young Adult Ministry Resources
This is a crowd-sourced working list of resources to assist in the work of ministering with young adults remotely through federal and state-mandated quarantines. It has been compiled by the USCCB National Advisory Team on Young Adult Ministry (NATYAM), in collaboration with the Loyola New Orleans Institute for Ministry (LIM), and with contributions from Catholic ministry leaders from across the United States.