Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2021.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Jerome Baggett


The restrictions on in-person church services in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have posed considerable challenges to active participation in parish life, both in its liturgical and pastoral dimensions. However, these unfortunate circumstances also have presented opportunities for both creative adaptations of parochial programming and evaluation of established and new strategies. This thesis explores the efforts of three San Francisco Bay Area parishes that over the past year have intentionally developed virtual spaces for weekly theological reflection as part of their broader efforts to boost interaction among parishioners through online platforms. The emerging prevalence of these programs across the wider parochial landscape raises practical considerations about the nature of parish online presence: Will it continue to operate according to the discursive broadcast model (similar to preaching from a pulpit) or will it prompt an increase in dialogue over spiritual matters among parishioners and their ministers?

I suggest that the Emmaus story of Luke’s Gospel ought to serve as a charter narrative for the Church as it accompanies its members along the new peripheries of today’s unsettled contexts. Just as the paradigm presented in Emmaus is one of dialogue between Jesus and his distressed disciples, this study engages participants in these parish-sponsored online programs in conversations about their lived experience of online religion and how they turn to the resources of their ecclesial community to construct meaning. Foremost among my observations is that the adaptive practices of parishes and parishioners exemplify considerable reflexivity at individual, group, and institutional levels. During these unsettled times, members of online theological reflection programs are actively reallocating Catholic cultural resources, ranging from how they seek support from fellow church members to how they integrate their personal stories into the grand narrative presented in the scriptural tradition. I conclude with six applications of how these online programs can help bridge the lingering gaps between the liturgical and pastoral modalities of parish life.

SCU Access Only

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