WOODSIDE — As parish life reemerges post-pandemic, there’s good news for churches and organizations in the diocese seeking a way to let the public know about their upcoming events, and it’s coming in the form of a website — Catholic Gatherings.
DeSales Media Group, the technology and communications ministry of the diocese and the parent company of The Tablet, has launched Catholic News as an online bulletin board where churches and organizations can not only post information about their own happenings, but also learn about those in other parishes in the diocese.
And that information need not be limited to words alone. Churches can maximize exposure for an event by also posting an accompanying image that will show in rotation on the Catholic Gatherings homepage as well as on the detailed events page. In addition, churches can upload a flyer with more details.
The new website has launched at the precisely right time, said Jim DelCioppo, editor of The Tablet. “As we’re coming out of the pandemic, and churches and organizations are holding more events, The Tablet wants to help spread the word and promote them,” he explained.
To submit an event online for possible inclusion in The Tablet, users can go to thetablet.org/catholicgatherings and click “Submit an Event.” After the event is over, users are encouraged to share their photos and videos with The Tablet at thetablet.org/sendus.
“Our hope is to create a single platform where we people can find out what’s happening, not just in their parish, but in other parishes,” explained Len Camporeale, director of marketing and digital for DeSales Media Group. “You might be aware of a ministry meeting in your church, but you might not hear about the fair at the parish next door.
“What we’re looking to do is for everybody to turn their attention to this one platform.”
To help spread the word about Catholic Gatherings, DeSales Media Group has contacted parish secretaries and schools across the diocese.
“The next step is really to have people start to post their events there to get the word out,” Camporeale said. “We need people to say, “I’m going to make a commitment to get my events up there for the next year so this does become a place where I can long term promote my events and cross-promote events from parishes.”
Catholic Gatherings fits in nicely with the ministry of DeSales Media Group, which is to evangelize, Camporeale added.
“Evangelization starts with invitation,” he said. “Many of our parishes are having events and inviting people to come and experience the parish. We’ve developed a platform that will help them leverage their events.”
“Catholic Gatherings is a great resource for people to stay up to date on what is happening throughout the diocese,” DelCioppo added. “It offers organizers an easy way to reach out to the faithful throughout the diocese.”
Churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn are once again abuzz with activity following the pandemic, with all types of gatherings that bring parishes to life — including everything from youth ministry meetings to flea markets to feast days.
With the worst of COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, churches are springing to life. Some resumed their regular Mass schedules as soon as in 2020, and those are still going strong. But parish-centered social events have been slower to return to normal, pastors told The Tablet.
“We’re fully back, and we have been for a while. I would say the last six or seven months have been really, really busy,” said Father Carlos Velásquez, pastor of St. Brigid Church in Bushwick.
As he spoke to The Tablet on Monday, Father Velasquez was finalizing plans for the parish’s All Saints Day celebration set for Nov. 1 — a day that was to include a children’s Mass and procession around the block of the church.
“We are a very devotional parish,” he said, adding that there are many religious societies at St. Brigid Church. “We have a great many processions.”
St. Brigid also has a large population of young people — there are 700 students in its faith formation program, for example — and the parish holds a number of child-centered events throughout the year.
Other churches in the diocese are also seeing an uptick in activities.
“For the most part, we are back in action,” said Father Christopher O’Connor, pastor of Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians Church in Woodside, also known as St. Mary’s of Winfield.
At St. Mary’s of Winfield, the Youth Ministry announced that its Youth Nights are back. The group meets Sunday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Parish Room. The Golden Age Club is planning a bus trip to Atlantic City on Nov. 10.
Even smaller, low-key gatherings are back. St. Mary’s of Winfield is inviting folks to “Sip Some Pumpkin Spice This Fall,” when coffee is served in the conference room on Mondays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The parish, which recently reopened its Adoration Chapel after it was destroyed by Hurricane Ida last year, is busy signing up volunteers to serve as adorers to take one-hour shifts to watch over the Blessed Sacrament so that it can become a perpetual adoration chapel that is open 24/7.
So many parishioners have signed up that, at last count, only 12 hours out of the 168-hour week were left.
Over at Mary, Queen of Heaven Church in Mill Basin, plans are already in the works for the parish Christmas Party. Father Thomas Leach, the pastor, said a large crowd of approximately 150 people is expected at the event.
Parish activities were dormant for a long time even after the pandemic started at ease, Father Leach admitted, “but we’re trying to build things back up again.”