Catholic families can respond to the coronavirus epidemic through prayer, connection with each other, and care for their spiritual, mental and physical health, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and several guests said in a Wednesday town hall.

The town hall, based on the theme “Better Together,” was conducted by phone and livestreamed May 6. Several guest speakers gave practical advice and helped address challenges.

Helen Alvare, a law professor based at George Mason University who advocates for women and families, encouraged parents to ask themselves why they want their children to be practicing Catholics. It should be motivated by “an actual desire to have Christ in your life” and to have a faith that helps explain the world.

Alvare said she takes care to narrate and share what she is doing in her spiritual life with her children and her husband. Catholicism is not “just in the air” anymore and Catholics “have to be explicit” about what they believe and why.

In her remarks Christina Lamas, executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, suggested parents reflect on the question “What kind of faith do you want your children to have 30 years from now?”

With many families now forced to communicate remotely, Lamas stressed the importance of reaching out to family members, including those who are not necessarily devout. She herself took a risk and encouraged everyone to gather together to pray and to connect. They all responded positively to the idea, and the family now has a Bible study every Sunday even though they live on different coasts.

Another speaker at the town hall was Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist, Catholic ethicist, and professor at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine who specializes in children and families.

“If you’re dealing with challenges, you’re not alone. What we’re going through is not normal for human beings,” commented Kheriaty.

He encouraged parents to continue “loving your children very much.” Children could be absorbing secondary stress from overhearing the news or phone conversations. Children need help to come to an understanding of events within their own ability. They also need a sense of security and safety.

Kheriaty warned against destructive patterns he had observed, as when someone stays up until 2 a.m. to binge on Netflix movies and snack, then rolls out of bed at 11 a.m. and stays home, isolated, with no face-to-face conversations, “much less meaningful work.”

He recommended reintroducing structure to one’s life, including a daily or weekly schedule. He emphasized the importance of good sleep, mealtimes, work or a hobby of some kind, regular prayer, regular physical activity, maintaining social connections, and work in service to others.

He said a family meal should be a “centerpiece” under the epidemic.

Full story at Angelus News.