Archbishop Nelson Perez has launched a new Easter video series to kickstart in-person parish life, as COVID-19 restrictions are gradually lifted throughout the state.
The 15-minute videos, available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language, will air at 7 p.m. each successive evening through May 16 and will remain available online for future viewing.
The series features an array of local Catholic speakers who will explore the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection and its power to bring new life even amid the pandemic.
The coronavirus has now infected close to 4 million and killed almost 273,000 worldwide, while wreaking economic and social havoc across the globe.
Yet the scope of the disease’s damage is precisely why Catholics should focus on the central mystery of their faith, according to Meghan Cokeley, director of the archdiocesan Office for the New Evangelization.
“In the Resurrection, God has already conquered the pandemic and all of the sorrows and troubles it has brought to our lives,” said Cokeley, who co-chairs a post-pandemic task force recently convened by Archbishop Nelson Perez.
The team of clerical and lay leaders is spearheading “Arise: Restoring Catholic Life after the Pandemic,” an initiative intended to transition the archdiocese back to active participation in Mass and parish activities.
The videos are among the first of numerous multimedia pastoral resources planned as part of the Arise effort.
Cokeley, who will lead the series in English on May 10, said that “plunging into the Resurrection during this time is like turning on the water taps” to allow Christ’s victory over death to flow into “our current situation and transform it from within.”
While the daunting task of rebuilding society may seem a strictly secular matter, Cokeley said that “all human structures like the economy, the political order and even physical health have their origin” in God as the world’s Creator.
“Turning to God during this time is not some pious but ineffective gesture that serves only to make us feel better,” she said. “Only he can do this. What we are doing is going to the source, so that our restoration is real and complete.”
Capuchin Friar Andrew McCarty, who will deliver the series’ final episode in Spanish, said that the pandemic has been a time of both “reckoning and invitation.”
“We are allowing the Resurrection to take flesh in our lives,” said Brother McCarty, who is in residence at the Padre Pio Prayer Center in the city’s Frankford section.
Located in the convent of the former St. Joachim Parish, the friary serves an area that was already hard-hit by addiction, violence and poverty prior to the pandemic.
Brother McCarty and his fellow friars regularly team up with archdiocesan Catholic Social Services to provide both spiritual and practical assistance to the community they serve.
With shootings on the rise in the neighborhood, and with many of the area’s families facing joblessness and food insecurity, he sees the Resurrection as the only starting point for the future.
Through the Holy Spirit, “the Advocate who will be with us always, in us and alongside us,” it is possible to find “a beautiful balance” that can celebrate victories while acknowledging “some things need improvement,” he said.
After the COVID-19 crisis, Brother McCarty observed, many faithful will have “wideranging and powerful testimonies.”
Series speaker Dan Tarrant, director of the Faith for Life outreach at St. Andrew Parish in Newtown, said that such witness is vital in channeling the power of Christ’s Resurrection to others.
“If we truly have a personal relationship with God, all we really need to do is tell our story,” said Tarrant, who is also the founder of ReEngaged Ministries.
Rather than trying to convert others, he aims to “make something beautiful for God whenever doing ministry,” knowing that “the rest is on God.”
Cokeley agreed, describing “those who have been transformed by the Resurrection” as “people who have a story to tell.”
“They are people who have a real personal experience of something that was dead in them coming back to life because of their encounter with Jesus,” she said, with joy as “a clear indicator of contact with the Risen Christ.”
As area faithful emerge beyond the pandemic, said Cokeley, they can be confident in the Resurrection’s power to heal the scars of the disease and its aftermath.
“We should expect big things from opening ourselves to this mystery,” she said.
The Archbishop’s Easter video series, “Resurrection and Restoration,” will be presented online May 10-16 at 7 p.m. in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL). Videos will remain online for future viewing.
Videos will be posted on CatholicPhilly.com as well as the following sites:
Arise: Restoring Catholic Life after the Pandemic: http://archphila.org/arise/
Archbishop Nelson Perez’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ArchbishopPerez
On Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/showcase/resurrection
For a complete list of series speakers and the titles of their presentations, visit the Arise website.
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