Parish Connect: Serving the Parish, Serving the Church
By Mary Powers
During the pandemic, parishes innovated.
Catholics attended livestream Masses and outdoor Masses in parking lots, on lawns and in school yards. Priests heard confessions through car windows at Our Lady of Angels in Burlingame, and homeless ministries made bag lunches and handed them out at the door of free dining rooms shut down by Covid-19. Bible studies went on Zoom.
The shutdown and restrictions of the pandemic dramatically brought home the need to support parishes to keep the faith alive. And the Archdiocese of San Francisco has responded – by renewing its focus on service to the parishes and the people they serve.
“The parish is where the faith is fostered and disciples are formed. Parishes are where the Gospel is proclaimed and the Eucharist is celebrated,” said Father Patrick Summerhays, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. “The parishes are the heart of our church.”
“We witnessed the pastoral challenges presented by the pandemic,” said Father Summerhays. “We’ve created new and updated channels of communication to meet the needs of the faithful and to support our parishes.”
Working with a consultant, Preambula Group, the archdiocesan administration located at the pastoral center near St. Mary’s Cathedral, developed unique online platforms to assist parish programs and church ministries in carrying out the mission of the church—to evangelize and form disciples.
With the new Catholic San Francisco magazine and e-newsletter, the Archdiocese of San Francisco also updated the archdiocesan website—SFarch.org—and is developing a new platform exclusively for parishes to connect and find the support and resources they need in their work—San Francisco Parish Connect (SFparish.com).
The Parish Connect website is a new tool of service to priests, parishes, schools and other archdiocesan entities. It reimagines and innovates to offer resources, free tools and above all, better access to mission-driven archdiocesan personnel ready to assist parish ministries in their work.
“The goal of SFparish.com is to equip volunteers, clergy and staff to facilitate an encounter with Jesus Christ in the church for those with whom they serve,” commented Martin Ford, director of technology and parish services for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. “The faith of Catholics in the archdiocese is lived and fostered in their local parishes; we want to assist the parishes with tools, resources and best practices so they can continue to serve in the mission of Christ.”
In addition to the resources found on SFparish.com, the archdiocese has offered a free Flocknote account to each parish. Flocknote is a Catholic company that provides an easy-to-use email and text communication tool to connect ministries and parishes to their flock and build community and parish ministries. To date, there are over 70 parishes and ministries signed up for Flocknote.