Joe Towalski: Spreading the Good News through good stories

When the staff of the diocese began working from home several weeks ago as part of coronavirus mitigation efforts, I wondered what it would mean for our workload and workflow. This was unprecedented territory. Could we be as productive at home as at the office? Could the office staff and diocesan teams still communicate and collaborate effectively?

By Joe Towalski

For the most part, I think the answer has been yes. Days have been filled with email exchanges, phone calls and GoToMeeting gatherings. Anyone working for the Church knows that ministry — especially in a crisis — doesn’t stop. Our spiritual lives need extra attention at times like this. But reaching out during a time of social distancing requires new creativity, new tools, new approaches.

One of our ministries at The Central Minnesota Catholic is storytelling. The magazine — both in print and online — seeks to tell stories that inform, inspire and edify. In his message for World Communications Day, which the Church observes May 24, Pope Francis made storytelling his theme.

“We need to make our own the truth contained in good stories — stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together,” he said in his message. “Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.”

The May edition of The Central Minnesota Catholic highlights such stories — stories of how people around our diocese have responded to the coronavirus’ impact with love, generosity and compassion and with a determination to meet the needs of the faithful at a time when coming together for worship and in-person events has not been possible. The diocese and parishes also have used new ways to tell stories and foster prayer: Facebook live, YouTube videos, parish apps and podcasts.

I recall some of my friends on Twitter saying they were giving up social media for Lent. Ironically, in many ways, social media saved the day (in this case, the season) for many Catholics, offering access to resources and “virtual” connections that were unimaginable not that many years ago. Yes, there’s a lot to avoid on social media, but this crisis has demonstrated the importance of these communications tools.

All of these resources — print publications, websites, social media — help us to tell our stories of faith, love and the hope we celebrate this Easter season thanks to the saving power of God’s grace. These help us tell the stories that “reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.”

It’s up to all of us in the diocese to tell these wonderful stories — our stories. If we don’t, who will?

Author: Joe Towalski

Joe Towalski is the editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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