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A New Way to Meet

November 24, 2020

Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute

The year 2020 has brought so many changes for everyone in so many facets of our lives. It has been no different for our Kateri meetings. After suspending the rest of our meetings in mid-March for the 2019-2020 year, we thought that the same would happen for the remainder of the calendar year. However, technology has come to the rescue. Seeing how successful using the Zoom platform can be to remain virtually connected to one another, we decided that it is worth a try rather than scrapping the rest of our meetings for the year.

There was some apprehension from some participants, particularly because not everyone is so tech-savvy. However, with a little encouragement, guidance, and direction, we managed to get most of the participants on board with this new way of meeting – not only regular participants, but also others who have, in the past, chosen not to travel to the meeting sites or were unable to do so.

We decided to meet with all three groups in the first meeting – the groups from Spokane, St. Ignatius, and from Great Falls. The first meeting in September worked great!! We had 26 participants. Everyone was so happy to see one another again and to connect and interact, even though it was all virtual and we were not in the same room. Not only that, each of the three groups had the chance to “meet” the participants in the other groups, which they did not have the opportunity to do so in the past when gathering with their own small groups. We have been meeting this way, all together on Zoom once a month, since then.

Maureen Foley-Bensen has been leading the first part of our meetings with the continuation of the scripture study with the Book of Exodus. For the afternoon sessions, Fr. Mike and the participants started their study with a new book, one written by Fr. Max Oliva, S.J., “God of Many Loves.” There have been some very insightful discussions in both the morning and the afternoon sessions, as the participants have been sharing their reflections and stories.

We could not have anticipated how successful this has been for the groups, meeting all together, even with its limitations. Though we all know that there is nothing like face-to-face interaction and communication, and nothing like “real presence,” the Zoom sessions have enabled our groups to come together again – though virtually – as we stumbled through at first, yet forged ahead with this new way to meet.

Photo captions:
1 – Enjoying the success of the first morning session. Left to right by rows: Fr. Mike Fitzpatrick, Maureen Foley-Bensen, Jen Edgren, Patricia Baker-Benally, Jama Van Brunt, and one other participant.
2 – Beginning the afternoon Kateri session in prayer.
3 – Sharing questions from “A God of Many Loves.”
4 - Celebrating Mass.
Article Image-- Jama Van Brunt (Spokane group) sharing some insights.
6 – Betty White (St. Ignatius group) sharing an amusing anecdote.
7 – Studying the passages from Exodus chapter 20.