Bill Gavin, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Diocese of Burlington, has been thinking about future challenges that might necessitate parishes and the Diocese to do ministry “in our new virtual world” post Covid-19 pandemic.

He and his administrative assistant, Rachel Lavallee, have created an online retreat for teens who were not able to attend a confirmation retreat as well as trainings and webinars for youth workers in Vermont.

“Our summer events are on hold for now, and we are waiting to see how the situation evolves,” Gavin said.

But youth ministry continues.

“Our biggest success has been a young adult Theology on Tap that we have moved online,” Gavin reported. Nearly 50 young adults participated in the first one.

“We are excited about this prospect moving forward as a challenge with Theology on Tap has been figuring out a way to better reach young adults from all over the state,” Gavin said. “This virtual Theology on Tap is a great way of doing so.”

Although the Diocese is “obviously facing a paradigm shift,” Gavin said the Church can emerge from the pandemic with a better use of technology: “Online Masses, virtual presentations, virtual classrooms, etc. are just some of the things that can supplement our incarnational ministry.” Maryann McGinnis of St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield attended two online programs — a presentation on Creating a Healthy and Holy Home and Youth Discipleship after Confirmation. “The former had some very good suggestions, ideas and reminders, some of which we already practice as a family,” she said.

The youth discipleship conversation was helpful because it was “comforting to know we are not alone,” she said, adding that she was encouraged to see pastors on the call.

“This conversation has motivated me to sign up for additional programs/presentations about youth discipleship,” she said.

Even after physical distancing requirements are eased, Gavin said online programs will be continued.

“I enjoy being able to participate in different programs, prayer services, webinars and discussions,” McGinnis said. “Online offerings enable me to attend programs in the comfort of my home and encourage me to try new things. The obstacle of the program not being local disappears.”

For more information on Youth and Young Adult Ministries, go to vermontcatholic.org/ministries-programs/ youth-young-adult/young-adult.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal provides essential financial support to Youth and Young Adult Ministries. To make a donation, go to bishopsappealvt.org.

—Originally published in the June 13-19, 2020, issue of The Inland See.

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