Loyola moves ministry, worship online


Michael Giusti

Ignatius Chapel live streamed Mass on Youtube on March 28 after everything moved online because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Zia Sampson

As Loyola closed campus and moved all classes online in mid-March, one prevalent facet of the community followed suit: The Department of Student Life and Ministry is now offering a number of spiritual activities online.

“We knew we had to find a way to provide spiritual offering to students at a distance during these challenging times, “ said Dale O’Neill, director of Student Life and Ministry.

A number of organizations have started using both Zoom and Youtube to offer a variety of different services.

The first event to move online was the 10:30 a.m. Mass at Ignatius Chapel, which has been live-streamed on Youtube following the direction of the university and the order of Archbishop Gregory Aymond. The chapel already had a set-up put in place to help with live streaming Masses for the older audience of the 10:30 Mass who sometimes were unable to attend service in person, according to The Rev. Justin Daffron S.J., vice president for Mission and Identity.

“It was definitely interesting, “ said Nicole Westerfield, music therapy junior who leads the Catholic Fellowship on campus and attended the first live stream mass. “I was really grateful that Father gave a little spiel in the beginning like ‘You’re not just watching this, I’d like you to participate. This is still Mass.’”

Ken Weber, university minister, has also set up a number of activities for the Catholic community to do online. These include a communal rosary, Catholic Fellowship, Ignatian Bible study, evening prayer, and a shared Ignatian Examen. All of these events have been on campus before, but this is the first time they are all offered every week.

This is all in an effort to keep a sense of community in such an isolating time.

“The lack of the physical presence, which creates the humanizing effects of any type of prayer, is a limitation that we understand to be there,” said Daffron.

He acknowledged the fact that being alone means that there has to be more concentration in prayer.

Weber echoed Daffron’s sentiments, saying the sense of community “makes Loyola what it is.”

Chi Alpha is another organization who has had to move all of their worship services online. Their mission specifically relates to college students finding their faith, and they have had to adjust to a virtual campus just as much as other organizations.

Joshua Byrd, director of Chi Alpha, said that they are also using Zoom to host small groups and weekly worship, the latter of which is also streamed on Instagram Live.

Byrd also stressed the importance of community in worship, and how it has been affected since moving online.

“It’s easy to have a small group or a Bible study in someone’s dorm because everybody lives there. But because we have students spread across several different states, to be all together at one time for some students has been a challenge,” he said.

That being said, Byrd emphasized that people are learning how to better prioritize their faith and grow in intentionality.

Daffron hopes that everyone will be able find some light in all of the chaos.

“This opportunity of being dispersed and going through this world-wide pandemic allows each of us to grow spiritually and be grounded in the value of our service to others and community, of finding God in all things.”