God has asked Deepa Kingry to serve all over the country: South Carolina, Minnesota, Georgia, New Jersey, Florida and, for the past three years, at St. Helen Parish in Glendale as the coordinator of youth and young adult ministry.
“Whatever God wants me to do — that has been my entire life. When He asks me to do something, I’m going to do it,” Kingry said.
The most recent endeavor that God has asked Kingry to undertake is praying the Rosary on YouTube Live to build community during social distancing. Kingry started the practice when Pope Francis invited all Catholics to join him in the praying the Rosary March 19 for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. With public liturgies suspended and families on lockdown, the community at St. Helen asked Kingry to continue the devotion every Thursday.
Since then, Kingry has desired to provide an opportunity for more parishioners to join. Starting May 5 the Rosary will be prayed twice a week. The Tuesday Rosary will be led by various families from the parish, and she is eager to see how it will help to build up families in the community.
“By building strong families, we are building up our society. The coronavirus has brought us back to simple family life,” Kingry said. “Family life is once again tangible.”
Even though the first few days of social distancing was stressful for Kingry with learning new platforms like Zoom and YouTube, she is thankful that the community is still able to build online. She continues to meet weekly with middle schoolers and teens, and she has been blown away by her student’s desire to grow in prayer.
“We pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at the end of Edge night and more and more students are volunteering to say opening or closing prayer,” Kingry said. “Our teens care very deeply about their faith and the young Church is very much alive.”
Katherine Buckley, director of youth ministry at San Francisco de Asís Parish in Flagstaff, has also seen how alive the young Church is. Before social distancing, she was approached by some of her teens who were looking to grow more in their faith. She decided to meet with them at a coffee shop every Saturday for Bible study.
“Whatever it is that [the students] need to help grow in their faith, that’s what I do. I’m not in charge of making them have a relationship with Christ. I’m in charge of giving them that opportunity to grow in relationship with Christ,” Buckley said.
Although Buckley has missed spontaneous one-on-one conversations with her students during social distancing, she continues to provide opportunities for them to grow in their faith with weekly Edge and Quo Vadis gatherings over Zoom as well as monthly online praise and worship nights.
Buckley has met the need not just of her Edge and Quo Vadis students but also the Catholic young adult community in Flagstaff. Buckley moved to Flagstaff after graduating college and realized that there wasn’t an established community that she could join.
“There was no young adult ministry out of college and that’s what I needed. I thought if I need it then there must be other young adults out of college who also need it,” Buckley said.
Powered by the Holy Spirit, Buckley started a young adult women’s Bible study. After Katherine’s brother graduated from nearby Northern Arizona University, he started his own young adult men’s Bible study. The siblings decided to combine their groups to form a large young adult community, now called “The 99: Strength in Community.” The 99 meets a couple times each month to share meals together and to encounter Christ through Bible study and praise and worship.
“Even though we can’t meet [in person] there’s still a need. Our name focuses on the 99 and the lost sheep. We’re all lost but when we’re together we’re stronger,” Buckley said. “We still need that strength in community.”
Arianna Steinberg juggles her time as a full-time ASU student, working part time and being a student leader for All Saints Newman Center at ASU. She, along with the other 50 student leaders, have recognized that now, more than ever, there is a need for community at All Saints.
“When it came to everything being online, we wanted to make sure this community stayed together,” Steinberg said. The objective is to help people to “belong, believe, become,” she added. “If you can belong to a community, great. If you can believe what that community stands for, you can also become a part of that community. That’s our vision for everything.”
Steinberg discovered the life-giving community of All Saints her freshman year and would even commute an hour, from ASU’s downtown campus to the Tempe campus where the Newman Center is located, in order to attend nearly every event offered. She feels blessed this year to be a part of the promotional leadership team where she makes flyers, posts on social media and, now, helps to coordinate three weekly online events: “Motivational Mondays,” “Keep Calm and Collected Wednesdays” and “Finding Jesus Fridays” where students share their testimony.
“Social media makes a huge impact and it can be used for outreach. We can use it to our advantage to keep the students involved and to see the light at the end of all of this,” Steinberg said. “Our symbol for ASU Catholic is a lantern. The lantern is a reminder that no matter what happens there is a light and, eventually, at the end of our lives, the light is the Lord. He is there no matter what.”