New-media outreach, Springhouse Media, launched during pandemic deemed a success worth continuing at Daylesford Abbey.
On the grounds of Daylesford Abbey, in Paoli, Pennsylvania, is an old springhouse that years ago was converted into a chapel. The spring flowing through the simple stone structure once supplied all the water for the property and provided natural cooling for perishable food before the advent of refrigeration.
But the centuries-old building has become a symbol of modernity and progress since Daylesford priests tapped it last year to serve as the namesake and icon of new-media outreach efforts they launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic. With social restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 preventing people’s visiting the abbey, the priests had to look for new ways to support the spiritual life of the local church. They decided to minister to the spiritual needs of others through social media and a website called Springhouse Media, or “The Springhouse.”
“Our digital media efforts have worked well beyond our expectations,” says Andrew Del Rossi, who oversees Springhouse Media and all other digital outreach from the abbey. “There have been natural glitches and hitches … yet it has been successful overall.”
Billed on Daylesford’s website as a means of “[providing] seekers with a wellspring of virtual content to deepen their spiritual journeys and grow closer to their relationship with God,” Daylesford’s Springhouse Media is one of many ways that Norbertines throughout the United States have maintained a connection with the communities they serve during the pandemic. Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey, in Albuquerque, started live-streaming Mass at the beginning of Advent 2020, according to communications director Joseph Sandoval. Santa Maria also live-streams a monthly ecumenical prayer service called Taizé in the Desert, and Come to Christ, a monthly “Night of Praise, Worship, and Adoration.” It also streamed the Triduum services of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil, and it sends out a monthly digital newsletter. And St. Michael’s, in California, has its Abbot’s Circle, featuring webinars and videos.
Daylesford’s Springhouse Media is among the more ambitious outreach efforts, with presentations on various topics, novenas, virtual retreats, theological and spiritual reflections, podcast interviews, and streaming of liturgies and other events live from the abbey. Springhouse also includes ongoing series such as Father John Zagarella’s “Rock the Word 153,″ which explores how God communicates through rock-n-roll music, and “Art and Artists at the Abbey,” which takes viewers on virtual tours of the abbey. Daylesford has a Facebook page, too.
“The abbey created an entire digital media ministry, from scratch,” Del Rossi says, “reaching our normal community and extending far-beyond.” The learning curve for new-media outreach is ongoing and steep, Del Rossi says, “depending on the day and the task.” But there’s plenty of time to get it right; Springhouse will continue after the pandemic.