I have been completely immersed in Catholic on-line ministry for almost a year now. I discovered Second Life a few years ago when I was looking for free on-line games. I have to share this story because it continues to blow my mind.
I joined “role play” groups in Second Life where one pretends to be a warrior or something to that effect. In fact, I started as a sort-of viking style warrior with a bow and a sword. It was somewhat fun, but otherwise a waist of time for me.
I then joined an old-west group in a place called Tombstone, Arizona. Searching for a new identity in a place filled with pretend doctors, teachers, sheriffs, mayors, etc., I decided that being a role-play priest would be a good idea, so I did it.
Next thing you know, people are asking me when I am going to do services. So I struggled through some sort of disjointed liturgy using chat (typing text), which is the preferred communication medium on most of these role play sims in Second Life. Voice is not usually used in the role-play sims.
More people started to come because there obviously was some sort of need there.
I also met other role-play priests in others sims and we all struggled with how to apply the sacraments since, first of all, none of us were ordained, and secondly, we didn’t want to soil the gravity of any sacrament. In essense, we established a self-correcting/self-regulating system to apply doctrine in a world where doctrine has not yet considered. For example, it was determined that we would not pretend to give out the Eucharist during our role-play Mass. Some decided that they wouldn’t do role-play marriage ceremonies either, even though these marriages were obviously not real, nor of any legal value.
My system for providing services changed when I encountered a protestant service by this woman who streamed audio into the church where she was preaching. Not to be one-upped, I figured out how to do it myself.
So now I provide three services on Sunday at three different western-themed locations. My liturgy is pretty much identical to what a Lay Ecclesial Minister would give on sunday in the absence of a priest, so I do not say things that are reserved specifically for priests or deacons. I prerecord the whole thing using my voice and various music tracks in order to provide a quality listening experience. I also use automatic chat functions (called “gestures”) which allows me to send text to everyone so they can follow along and read. My avatar even has a few physical gestures to do the sign of the cross and so on. I get between 5 and 15 people at each of the services, and most of them aren’t even Catholic! I also built a pretty little monastery and chapel for my personal use.
I am always on the lookout to collaborate with other folks who do the same thing. If you’re on Second Life send a message to “Wid Shim.”