Locked down but our work goes on

By Father Simon Gore

Father Simon Gore describes how the Animate team have made use of the lockdown by creating a recording studio at Lowe House.

Well, here we are again. It is Lockdown III, and I hope your lockdown is going as well as it can. I am still trying to navigate myself around the etiquette of certain aspects of lockdown, and one of them is how to greet people. Can you ask how your lockdown is going in the same way you ask how someone’s holiday has been? It seems a little strange to do so as I think we are all having more or less the same kind of distorted version of reality. I imagine we are all trying to live our lives as best we can at the moment: trying to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe, while also trying to live rather than simply exist.

I must confess that there is little to report on from the team point of view here at Lowe House, though one big difference from the previous lockdowns is that this time I have company. A few of the team decided to stay here and form a household as they had only just come back from Christmas. It is a little unusual for me to have company in the house yet no retreats and missions, but one development from all of this is that we have had a chance to do some recording in our new studio. As I mentioned a while ago, we were looking to expand into the ‘virtual’ world a little more. And to help with that, we have made over one of the rooms in the house into a studio. It was a little like Changing Rooms as we got painting and gluing up noise-reducing acoustic blocks. Now it is all done I am quite happy with it. I think we can do a bit more as time goes on, but trying to create something like this in a lockdown and ordering online is not the easiest!

The Archbishop has been keen to have Confirmations this year and although this new lockdown might have affected things a little, we still wanted to create some videos that introduce the sacrament and talk about why the sacrament is important in our life. Hence we have created four short ‘bite-size’ mini sessions on why Confirmation is important. The plan is that these sessions will introduce the sacrament and young people might then be encouraged to sign up for local preparation sessions.

We have also been busy recording Faith in Action reflection points as well. While numbers are down for the scheme this year, there is still a large group of young people registered. And while some might not complete the award this year, we still wanted to try to offer assistance to those who are continuing. Participants can complete ‘lockdown credits’ at home and so we wanted to record something that they could follow from home as their reflection on the work they have done.

It has been a little tricky as there is no feedback to work with: how can you offer thoughts for young people to reflect on when you don’t know what they have been doing? We have, therefore, tried to be as generic as possible and we hope it will be a useful resource for those working on the scheme this year. Finally, we have also recorded some more mini sessions as a form of a Lenten retreat on the pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. There is an awful lot of video material and resourcing around at the moment and we were wary of just adding more to an already abundant set of resources, but we felt it was worth doing.

It has not all been work, though, and we have also used the new studio for a lockdown quiz. You should be able to see this on our YouTube channel now, with the other items due to appear over the next few weeks. Do keep an eye out for them. In the meantime, I hope you manage to keep both safe and sane.