I was thinking about a plan for my family for TEOTWAWKI and I immediately thought of how we would find a priest during that time. I wonder if Rome or dioceses have instituted any plans for major disasters. Is this something we should ask our parish priest or diocese and what ideas have you had with how you will attend to the spiritual and sacramental needs of the faithful and knowing how and where to find you?
Good for you for thinking about this. Any responsible parent would form a plan of action and gather what will be necessary for a few scenarios.
Have dioceses implemented plans? I have no idea, but I really doubt it, not as far as sacramental needs are concerned. Not a plan: find a priest. Organizing priests is like organizing those little balls in a prize from the old Cracker Jack boxes. (Some of you will understand that reference.)
My recommendation is to identify a local priest who is amendable to and/or wholly on board with your SHTF Plan. We should all network with people anyway. People are better off working together in a bad situation. Include a priest in those plans. If you are going to go so far as to make a “retreat”, some place to which you can bug out, then you might consider bringing Father, too, or including him in your planning if he is able to get there on his own. This includes bugging in, too, not just bugging out. Some people plan, depending on the situation, to shelter in place. Think of the spiritual advantages. Also, some priests are pretty savvy and even outdoorsy. They can often do more than shrive, though that would be enough to warrant the extra mouth to feed.
How to let people know where I am…. that is another matter entirely.
First, depending on the situation, it might not be a good idea to let people know where you are. I know I sound like Cassandra, but I can envision a time when priests are being hunted, imprisoned and killed. Also, if starving mobs know where you are, you are less safe.
Otherwise, as I mentioned before network with people now and make some plans. Another tool in this scenario could be ham radio equipment and a time/frequency plan for your network. This might sound a little like a novel plot, but broadcasting to your network where Father will be for confession and Mass could address the problem you raise. Also, Father himself could communicate that way to the network you have stitched together. Again, depending on the scenario, you might have security issues to address.
On a slightly different note, we need to think not only in terms of sacraments, but also sacramental records. This is an issue for dioceses and parish and individuals.
I know that some dioceses have taken good care of their diocesan archives and have encouraged parishes to do the same. My suggestion to parish priests is that they – at the very least – take digital photos of every page of every important sacramental register and then keep that digital record on an encrypted USB drive in the parish’s fireproof safe or offsite.
Individuals should do the same: at least digitally photograph, if not scan, important documents and keep them on an encrypted flash drive. I recently received from one of you readers an Ironkey, which I am loading up. These hardened drives come in different memory capacities. The large ones are a little spendy, but they have multiple uses.
I am sure some of you knowledgeable readers will chime in about how they can be used to help you guard against identity theft and loss of important data. I wouldn’t mind some creative tips. For example, I recently started thinking about how to put a virtual machine on a USB drive.
Think, for a moment, about a house fire and losing all your precious family photographs. You might start a family project of scanning those photos (a printer/scanner is not expensive (a wireless color printer/scanner comes in well under $100, for example HERE). Scan personal documents, records, all manner of data.
In any event, think through some scenarios and make plans and implement those plans now. That could make all the difference in a future emergency.
Don’t leave it to other to provide for your material and spiritual security and needs. Plan. Plan. Plan.