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Ogdensburg youth ministry takes prayer online

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They’re going to talk at cross purposes — on purpose.

Some north country Roman Catholics will use the Internet to create an online prayer group that meets Sundays during Lent.

“I think that with everybody’s busy schedule, sometimes we don’t have the time to do things in the normal hours that you would need to have a group like this,” said Lorraine Turgeon, director of the Young Adult Ministry of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. “It provides us an opportunity to have more of a flexibility of time.”

The group has been organized by Mrs. Turgeon, who said that the online format would help bring together a geographically expansive Catholic community.

“There is a lot of ground to cover between Watertown and Plattsburgh,” she said. “The distance is an imposing factor for some people who might otherwise participate with us.”

Mrs. Turgeon also said the Web meetings can help connect with Catholics who might have difficulty participating in their faith or feel disconnected from others in the church.

“A couple with young children or single parents can put their children to bed and meet others at their computer table, praying for one another and feel supported in a life-giving way,” she said. “College students can take time away from studying and jump online to connect with others who are wanting to make things better, especially if you are going to college out of the Diocese and want to remain connected to our church.”

She also said that the online group could appeal to lapsed Catholics who consider returning to the flock.

“People returning to the faith or who are unsure can jump on in a very non-threatening way,” she said. “This is going to be a new way of doing things, so my prayer is that God will bless our efforts and we will figure it out as we go along.”

The group will meet five times during Lent at 9 p.m., with each meaning focusing on a different topic.

“The first one is about temptation. We’ll be using scripture passages and reflections,” said Mrs. Turgeon. “One meeting is the whole thing. You could hop onto one and wouldn’t feel like you weren’t missing anything if you didn’t participate the previous week. They each stand alone.”

Mrs. Turgeon said this was the first time the Diocese has attempted an online prayer group.

“The Diocese already uses this media to offer the formation for ministry classes in Ogdensburg, Malone and Ticonderoga,” she said. “This is just a way of using the same media to enhance one’s prayer and spiritual life.”

The group will be using Adobe Connect to chat, and participants can meet face to face using webcams or just listen and speak on audio, said Mrs. Turgeon.

The Internet format helps appeal to a younger audience, encouraging increased participation in the group, said Mrs. Turgeon.

So far, she has a dozen interested participants, but is hoping for more.

“If we get a good group we may offer it at other times, depending on the needs of the participants,” she said. “If people are interested in the online prayer group, they just need to email me and I will send them a link.”

If interested, Mrs. Turgeon can be reached at lturgeon@dioogdensburg.org .

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