With the pandemic forcing many into lockdown, throwing plans into chaos, Catholics are seeking a lifeline and opportunity to reconnect and reinvigorate their faith.
The virtual space, aliveinthespirit.com.au, offers an opportunity to gather online, connect with companions on the journey, and be reinvigorated through a variety of offerings.
Richard McMahon, chair of the Alive in the Spirit Conference Team, says, “We offer a ‘Kairos’ time – time with God – for the weary traveller. Our virtual platform accompanies our participants, inviting time for silent prayer and reflection, a space to catch up and have a yarn with people from Australia and New Zealand, and take much needed time for oneself to be enriched and renewed.”
A conference spanning Thursday evening 8 July through to Saturday afternoon on 10 July may at first glance seem a large commitment of time.
Lisa Bright, conference convener, explains, “People won’t need to sit at a screen for two days straight! No one wants that. The beauty of this event is that there are a few scheduled live events with keynote speakers, and then the rest of the time is yours, to pace yourself in a way that works for you. What we are encouraging is to be present to yourself during these days. If you are worried about technology, support will be a phone call away. People are just beginning to realise the amazing amount of resources available, and registrations are multiplying in our final days.”
Faith communities are also recognising the value of the virtual experience. Fr Michael Alcock, administrator of Sawtell Parish in the Diocese of Lismore, has invited his community to gather, as far as COVID-19 restrictions allow, and view the keynote events together.
Communities are also organising small groups to view and discuss workshops. Matt, a pastoral associate from Engadine Parish, in the Archdiocese of Sydney, is offering their own virtual Zoom meeting space during lockdown, to encourage community spirit and interaction during the experience.
Maria, a pastoral associate from the Archdiocese of Brisbane, is impressed by the rich resources available, and is hoping some of her younger parents who are interested in ministry will take advantage of the experience.
Material is also available to catechists, RCIA teams, youth groups, pastoral councils, parish/school reflection days, or faith sharing groups.
Locally sourced keynotes, workshops, prayer and worship spaces and interactions with an array of Catholic organisations are all part of the registration cost. Organisers are committed to ease of access, so the whole site can be experienced for six months for only $40 or for $200 a group receives 11 individual registrations.
Three experienced Catholic networks have combined forces to develop this online platform: the Pastoral Ministry Network, Christian Initiation Australia Network, and the Mission Planners Network Oceania.
With the endorsement of bishops, and backing of a variety of sponsors, Alive in the Spirit seeks to live up to its motto: “being the community Christ calls us to be”.
For more information, please contact the Alive in the Spirit Conference Convener, Lisa Bright, on 0448 652 720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With thanks to the Alive in the Spirit Conference.