Campus ministry turns to Facebook as COVID-19 empties pews

The Easter season is typically a time of celebration and festivity at Seton Hall. With social distancing, Campus Ministry is finding new ways to celebrate, including livestreamed Masses and internet-based volunteering.

Mass at the on-campus chapel has continued through Holy Week via Facebook Live on the Campus Ministry Facebook page.

Father Colin Kay often helps to celebrate Mass via these livestreams, and says the separation reminds him of why we’re all staying apart: for each other.

“Mass without people feels very intense and on purpose, because being apart physically is, in these days, an act of love for one another,” Kay said. “Offering Mass is an act of faith that the miles don’t matter because God’s spirit makes us one in Christ Jesus.”

Dozens of viewers have been watching the livestreams of daily Mass, with hundreds viewing Sunday services, according to Kay.

Seton Hall’s campus ministry livestreams mass daily from the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on campus. (Nicholas Kerr/News Editor)

According to metrics from Facebook, almost 2,000 people tuned in to Mass on Easter Sunday.

The Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) has also found a new method of service to accommodate for social distancing, including a virtual tutoring program, in which volunteers will use Zoom to connect with students from the South Orange-Maplewood School District.

“We provide one-on-one tutoring to children who need it, in whatever subject the student struggles,” DOVE Director Michelle Peterson said. “We are working with the coordinator of this program to connect our students through an online program to support students while they are educated remotely.”

DOVE is working with the organization Friends First to transition their prison visitation program into a pen pal system. 

“Students will be matched with a detainee [at a local prison],” Peterson said. “Detainees come from various countries throughout the world, there is an urgent need for Spanish speaking volunteers as pen pals.”

DOVE also hopes to resume its group home visits for the disabled virtually.

“During this crisis, we rely on technology to remain profoundly present and to share our love,” Peterson said. “We will do whatever we can to continue our commitment to service.”

Students looking to get involved with DOVE’s new volunteer opportunity should contact Michelle Peterson or Assistant Director Amanda Cavanagh for more information.

Daniel O’Connor can be reached at daniel.oconnor@student.shu.edu. Find him on Twitter @itsDanOConnor.

Author: Daniel O'Connor

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