Venice | Due to the restrictions people have been going through, the Diocese of Venice Office of Evangelization has sought to offer easy and effective ways to reach out to the faithful in their homes.
Joshua Mazrin, Diocesan Director of Evangelization, recently began offering a 12-part online Bible study series from 2-3 p.m., Tuesdays through the Diocese of Venice Facebook page. The weekly offering is live, and participants can ask questions of Mazrin and other experts. For those unable to watch live, the videos will remain on the Diocese Facebook page.
“There is no reason we cannot still bring about the beautiful teachings of the Faith to everyone and create an opportunity for people to still interact,” Mazrin explained. “Since our relationship with God is both communal and individual, the Bible study offered aims to provide a resource to those who participate and aid them in their personal understanding of Scripture, by placing it in the context of the whole Church. The element of participation is also integral here; it allows those taking part from home the ability to interact with one another as the Church normally does in gatherings.”
The Bible study is built upon the “Genesis to Jesus” video series from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, which has been previously offered in the Diocese. The video series is hosted by Matthew Leonard and was created by Scott Hahn and Franciscan University of Steubenville.
“‘Genesis to Jesus’ is a great streamlined program that outlines the ‘big picture’ of the Bible,” Mazrin said. “It is a quick walkthrough of all of Scripture, hitting on the major figures and events, and then connecting the dots. This study provides a sort-of framework for people to follow, especially if they desire to pick up the Bible later. It will give them a context to understand what they are reading and at which point in the story of salvation history it occurred.”
The interactive Bible study includes Father Shawn Roser, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director and Parochial Vicar of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton; Natalie Campbell, Director of Religious Education at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples; Aileen Vasquez, Director of Religious Education at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral; and Spence McSorley, Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.
The structure of the Bible study offers a weekly introduction, prayer and then jumps into the weekly video. After the video is concluded, the viewers are challenged to answer thought-provoking questions related to what they learned.
For example, questions included “Can you think of a time in your life when you experienced a burning heart encountering Jesus in a personal way?”
The response has been very positive. The first Bible study had 115 live viewers and nearly 1,800 people have viewed the session since it was posted.
Comments included: “Thank you God for giving us this technology to stay connected and keep discovering how much You love us.” “Wonderful summary… discussion and panel very helpful. Faith sharing builds up the Body… again thank you.” “The blessing of this pandemic is that we have been given the time to turn to God. He again has come to us on our level through technology.”
Mazrin said he is very pleased with the turn out from the first livestream and the interaction of those who participated live or viewed later.
“The Bible often feels like a difficult text to approach, which it may be without help,” Mazrin continued. “But it is also the inspired living written Word of God, and we are a religion of the Word. This Bible study is an easy and straightforward way to become more comfortable with Scripture in a way that is stress-free, informative and entertaining. The personal reading of Scripture will bring great blessings to your life, but the personal reading of Scripture understood through the Church’s interpretation will entirely transform your life.”