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‘Screen on the Green’ offers socially distanced date night in Annandale

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St. Michael Church in Annandale hosted its first outdoor “Screen on the Green” date night for couples Oct. 3 as part of its new, multiyear outreach and evangelization initiative to support marriages in COVID-19 and beyond.

The date night, organized by the new evangelization team at St. Michael and co-hosted by parishioners Niru and Sarah De Silva, was designed to draw couples from both within and outside the parish community. More than 230 people attended, and nearly 40 percent of those were not members of the parish. 

“The ‘Screen on the Green’ event held (Oct. 3) revealed today’s Gospel message, a vision of the Lord’s vineyard set in real time,” said Father Brian McAllister, parochial vicar at St. Michael, who commented that the “hundreds of souls sitting and communing and sharing in fellowship on the grass,” outside resemble “stalks growing up out of the very earth – filled with the fresh and superior wine of Christian charity and hospitality.” 

The evening event took place on the parish’s large green space in front St. Michael Catholic School, where couples watched three Academy Award-nominated short films projected on an inflatable jumbo screen. The films were chosen to uplift marriage and healthy relationships. The parish also arranged for local food trucks for dinner, provided green space for socially distanced picnicking, and offered free, onsite child care for parents with young children.

But unlike a typical movie night, the parish built in a series of intermissions where couples had an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the deeper meanings of the films together.

The date night was the culmination of a six-week outreach campaign the parish developed with support from Communio, a nonprofit ministry that consults with churches to help them develop and run their own ongoing outreach and engagement strategy to increase church participation through relationship-focused evangelization. As part of the outreach, the parish is organizing a monthly date night series.

“I loved the event,” said Cynthia Lucas, a parishioner at St. Michael. “COVID-19 really threw a wrench into our lives – my husband and I haven’t been out together in so long. It was great to get out, just spend time with each other. We are so thankful for the parish and grateful to have met a bunch of new couples from our church community.”

Next month, the parish will hold a Couples’ Bag Toss Tournament, with seasonal beer and food, fire pits, child care, and the opportunity to join small groups for skills-based, relationship enrichment content.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020