Fr. Ray Dlugos, O.S.A., may no longer be able to celebrate daily Mass with students and faculty in person during the coronavirus pandemic. But Massachusetts’ Stay at Home Advisory isn’t stopping him from using digital technologies to still offer a virtual daily mass.
The live daily Mass is proving to be popular with students, faculty and staff, as well as surrounding community members. Some of the live broadcasts have even had more attendees than the average in-person daily Mass crowd.
“The live Masses and the recorded sessions are getting a lot of views which I’m happy about,” said Fr. Ray. “I’m really liking the live Mass and people participating. And there is a connection as people meet virtually to talk before and after.”
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, members of campus ministry were trying new digital outreach methods to minister to tech-savvy students in the iGen and Gen Z generations.
“One of the challenges for the last decade or two is how to connect with students,” said campus minister and adjunct lecturer Nick DiSalvatore. “We’re trying to figure out what it means to meet students where they are.”
Campus Ministry has increased its presence on social media, including the popular Instagram. Nicole Benevenia, campus minister for service and social justice, posts daily psalms on the Instagram page @mccampusmin which has grown to more than 600 followers. Viewers see a quick view of the psalm and can swipe up to view it in its entirety.
Podcasting is another technology Campus Ministry is taking advantage of. On Fr. Ray’s Restless Hearts Podcast he shares his thoughts with students, faculty, staff and the world even when they can’t make it to Mass. Since remote learning began, he’s increased the frequency of podcasts.
“You have to work harder at this to be connected with other people,” he said.
Since the campus started remote learning, campus ministers are also using Zoom to reach out to more students.