By Dominique Johnson
Over the last month, we’ve seen priests of our diocese take to the use of social media to livestream Mass for parishioners quarantined at home due to COVID-19. While the quarantine has continued, parishioners have been longing for connection to their church communities and some ministries have stepped up to help bring people together during this time.
In Juneau, the Marriage Enrichment ministry utilized YouTube to continue its ministry. The ministry began a year ago and is led by Annie and Greg Albrecht. Annie shared that the purpose of the ministry was to bring couples together, “so the restrictions against gathering pretty much undercut the main vision that Greg and I had for the group.”
The couple didn’t plan to move their ministry online at first, being overwhelmed with using digital platforms to help their children complete their school year from home. However, as the weeks went on, “we were feeling like we really still wanted to be able to connect with other couples and families, and wanting to provide something in case others were feeling the same,” Annie said.
The Albrechts brainstormed ideas for people with different schedules and children at home. Ultimately they decided to ask couples to record YouTube videos to share their experiences during quarantine and how it has impacted their marriages, as well as their faith. The idea of sharing experiences came from Jim and Martha Stey, who gave a presentation in November on how they use hospitality to share their faith. Annie gave the Steys a call to see how they were doing. “This led to wondering how others in our group were doing and how their lives have changed.” She added that “Sharing stories has become a keystone aspect of our marriage enrichment group, and it seemed like this could translate pretty well to videos.”
So far, three couples have shared their quarantine experience on YouTube and the feedback she has received has been “really positive.” Albrecht did say that the downside to using technology is that “it is so difficult to know where people are at right now and what they need unless they tell you.”
Albrecht said she is glad they found a way to bring people together during this time because it has given the couple the opportunity to, “reach out to various couples to ask if they are willing to share their stories,” and “to check in with them and see how they’re doing – whether or not they feel like sharing a video with the group.”
You can view the Marriage Enrichment videos by searching Marriage Enrichment – St. Paul’s, Juneau, on YouTube.