Proclaiming the Gospel message of hope, comfort to the faithful during COVID-19

April 13, 2021

HOUSTON — During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Catholics worldwide came to rely on a variety of online resources to keep in touch with their dioceses and parish communities.

Not only were they seeking timely and important information about the Church, but also a glimpse of hope and comfort in the midst of so much uncertainty.

This “new normal” created by the pandemic has been an important reminder to the Office of Communications of the Archdiocese that frequent communication with the 1.7 million Catholics living in Galveston-Houston is a top priority, especially during a crisis.

“The pandemic has certainly created logistical challenges for our office, but we continue to utilize and expand upon our communication channels, mainly the Texas Catholic Herald, weekly advisory to parishes, website and social media,” said Jonah Dycus, director of the Office of Communications. “Some of the expectations of our office may have evolved in this new normal, but our mission has not changed: To provide news and feature content to inspire and keep the people of the Archdiocese well informed.”

During the pandemic, Dycus said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo made it a priority to continuously reach out to the faithful with messages of hope and encouragement. One resulting project included the creation of a daily video reflection series given by Archdiocesan priests called “Messages of Hope,” which were posted on and shared on social media throughout last year.

Dycus said the Office of Communications continues to explore new ways to maximize online communication tools to reach greater audiences, while seeking additional collaboration opportunities with other Archdiocesan offices, ministries and media outlets to accomplish their communication goals.

For example, Dycus said the office collaborated with the local KPRC news station to televise a Christmas Day Mass celebrated by Cardinal DiNardo at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. It also was livestreamed on the Archdiocesan website and shared on social media for greater exposure.

He said the office plans to continue livestreaming special Archdiocesan Masses and services in the future, as well as ordinations and important liturgies, allowing more of the faithful access to these events.

Dycus said a survey conducted by his office last spring provided a roadmap for many of the office’s most recent projects, including the Digest newsletter and an online viewer for the print version of Texas Catholic Herald that were launched last summer.

“Besides going out to the current 65,000-plus print subscribers, the Digest is available to anyone interested in keeping up with the news of the Archdiocese via email,” said Dycus. “We also send out special announcements or updates via the Digest that are not included in the print Herald.”

He said the online viewer allows the pages of the print Herald to be accessed by all via the web site. Readers can view each page on devices of their choice, click on links and use search and share features.

Dycus said, in recent months, the Archdiocese also has been partnering with the Harris County Public Health in efforts to keep the public informed about the pandemic, particularly with updates on COVID-19 testing and vaccination centers. The office works to disseminate that information regularly.

“We also provide weekly updates directly to parish clergy and staff through the Chancery Advisory, which includes announcements from Cardinal DiNardo and Archdiocesan offices and ministries that may be used in parish bulletins,” said Dycus. “Several parishes use their website, social media accounts and messaging software to get this information out to their parishioners, which has been important during the pandemic.”

The Office of Communications is one of 60 ministries directly supported by the annual Diocesan Services Fund (DSF). Dycus said this fund is vital in supporting the Office of Communications’ efforts and so many other ministries of the Archdiocese.

“We are grateful for the support of those giving, particularly during this difficult time,” said Dycus. “We strive to be the best stewards of DSF funds and prioritize informing and inspiring local Catholics and those seeking to deepen their faith life.”

Dycus said that despite the immense challenges that have come with COVID-19, the opportunities and triumphs of the faithful in the Archdiocese have been equally remarkable.

“Our office often looks to highlight ‘faith in action’ with our coverage, but particularly during the pandemic, the spirit and initiative of people in the Archdiocese have been extraordinary and truly inspiring for us,” Dycus said.