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Love in the age of quarantine: Families improvise during coronavirus pandemic

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Anne-Marie D. Minnis and her nine brothers and sisters live in seven different states, but they’re able to gather each night for prayer. 

In a time of uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, Minnis and her family use Zoom, a video conference software, to chat and pray together at night.  

minnis family

Anne-Marie Minnis (top row, center) and her family pray and chat during a Zoom call March 20. SCREEN GRAB | COURTESY

“It's been an amazing means of support especially for the moms who are at home with the kids all day; some of them have dads there but one dad is in a medical fellowship, so they are facing the probability that he could get quarantined at the hospital. It's also very hard for my parents who aren't allowed to see their grandkids right now,” Minnis, coordinator of events and communications for the diocesan Vocations Office, wrote in an email. “It's just been a great way to support each other and stay in touch.”

Minnis is not alone in seeking out new ways to preserve a close connection with her family while keeping her physical distance. Families everywhere are embracing new technology to pray and bond. 

Erin Thielman, a parishioner of the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria, said on top of daily phone calls, she’s been praying a rosary with her parents in Colorado once a week using Google Duo, the video call app.

“The Rosary call brings so much joy to my parents who are in self isolation due to their age and underlying medical conditions,” Thielman wrote in an email. “My parents always tell me how much they love hearing the little voices praying the prayers that they learned at school and home. My children always love seeing their grandparents via video chat and praying the Rosary together has brought about more unity that defies state lines and isolations.” 

A former teacher, Thielman has also reached out over social media to help her friends whose schedules have been upended with new responsibilities. She created a detailed homeschool schedule to help friends balance work while taking care of their children’s needs; it has been shared at least 100 times that she knows of.

Other families are having educational moments together as well.  

“We have five grandchildren living in Connecticut,” Elizabeth Foss, a Catholic Herald columnist, wrote in a direct message sent via Twitter. “One is an emerging reader who just left kindergarten early. The others are preschoolers, toddlers and a baby. Besides their dad, I have eight children. All of the aunts and uncles have volunteered to do FaceTime read alouds of their favorite childhood picture books. I’ve sent some to uncles who don’t live here. So far, it’s fun to take a turn every day, pop in, see their faces and read a story. And those kids are getting lots of read aloud time!”

In addition to the nightly prayer, Minnis said her brother, a priest, has been livestreaming Masses and many of the family have been attending, virtually, together. 

“Talk about a silver lining,” she said. 

Five ways to connect with your family and friends

  1. Say a rosary with your family via a Zoom video conference or Skype group call.
  2. Host a virtual “read-along” using Zoom. Each person takes a turn reading a chapter of a book.
  3. Turn on the speakerphone and play “cards” or board games together through an app. Try Euchre 3D, Canasta Free or Scrabble Go.
  4. Keep FaceTime, Facebook Messenger or another video chat on as you perform routine tasks throughout the day. This allows conversation to be spontaneous and a feeling of closeness.
  5. Turn on Messenger and work out together with videos on YouTube. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try new things, such as hoop dance or ballet


    This article was updated 3/23. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020