Update: The Gathering
Back in the spring of 2020 when public Masses were first cancelled due to the pandemic, parishes were faced with what to do to serve the spiritual needs of parishioners, who were not allowed to gather in-person. As a result, we at St. Basil’s began to make use of online formats like Zoom, which allowed us to connect with each other in ways that we had not done so before. While we recognized that Zoom wasn’t a replacement for in-person gatherings, it has allowed for some very meaningful experiences. In those initial days of the pandemic, we sought to offer something to nourish the faith of parishioners while also creating a sense of community. This gave birth to “The Gathering”, which has evolved to its current format.
The Gathering started out as a Sunday afternoon prayer service that included a Gospel reflection and a faith sharing component. It then evolved to a shortened morning prayer service (without faith sharing), which led into the live-streamed Mass from St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. Finally, the “coffee hour” was introduced to follow the prayer service and to transition to the live-streamed Mass from St. Basil’s. In many ways, the coffee hour has become the faith-sharing component like in the original format.
Throughout its evolution, The Gathering has offered beautiful music, profound reflections on the Sunday Gospel, and heartfelt intercessory prayer. I have been so grateful for all the many voices from the community—both laypersons and clergy—who have shared their faith by offering rich Gospel reflections and using the opportunity to pray for each other. What a blessing to our parish community over these last 15 months!
With summer upon us when many of our ministries tend to wind down and as the province begins to open up with the hopeful possibility of the lifting of the restrictions that have kept us apart, we have discerned that it is time that The Gathering and online coffee hour come to an end. It will be sad to see them go, but we hope that some of what has been offered will be captured in other ways as we move out of the pandemic and plan for the fall. For example, in what context might the opportunity for lay preaching and communal faith sharing occur? We’ll be considering how to take the best of The Gathering into the ministries we offer in the fall. I hope that those of you who have benefited will consider offering your feedback.
The final Gathering and associated “coffee hour” will take place on Sunday, July 18. However, we plan to continue to offer the 10:30am live-streamed Mass as long as we are still experiencing pandemic restrictions inside the church. The Saturday morning faith sharing will also take a break for the summer following the session on July 17. It likely will resume in the fall.
The Gathering has been a wonderful way to journey through this pandemic together; it has certainly been spiritually enriching to me. Thank you to all of you who have shared the experience in various ways and to all the staff who have made it possible.
— Fr. Morgan