Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Virtual Community of Care

Wednesday greetings from chilly Chicago.

Last night, while on Facebook, I noticed some posts from a cousin of mine in Massachusetts. She was asking for prayers for my uncle, without much more commentary. There were lots of people among our family and her friends who responded with words of concern, expressing their heartfelt thoughts and prayers. I began to pray for my uncle. The posts continued and eventually we found out that my uncle needed more care and was placed in a Catholic care facility. The photo my cousin posted was so heartwarming, my uncle sitting in his new place, shuffling a deck of cards, playing gin rummy with my her.

I have been thinking for quite some time about the whole Facebook phenomenon. I know that last year, when a niece of mine was quite ill, my brother and his ex-wife (my niece's parents) posted consistently on Facebook and the outpouring from family and friends, near and far, was overwhelming. While these parents are not people of faith, I couldn't help but think that these Facebook posts ("I'm praying for your daughter;" "I hope she is well soon;" "Thoughts and prayers;" "Will be praying for her;" etc.) were coming from people who were praying and hoping for my little niece's recovery. What I saw was what looked like a small faith community being formed around my niece and her parents. And all of this was done in the virtual world, a "virtual church" if you will.

I experienced that same thing last night with all the posts about my dear uncle. Sure, Facebook has its drawbacks, and I have certainly seen those first hand, but in cases like my niece's and uncle's, it becomes a virtual community of care. Last night I posted that I was very grateful for Facebook.

I am leaving in a few hours, headed for Baltimore, where I will be meeting with other Catholic publishers and the Baltimore Archdiocesan staff to make plans for the Mid-Atlantic Congress for Pastoral Leaders 2014 in Baltimore. Maybe a Maryland crabcake for dinner tonight?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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