‘Open Door Policy’ podcast host finds creative way to stay connected to the faithful, takes questions about life, faith during COVID-19 quarantine

DETROIT — It’s not quite as polished as an “Open Door Policy” podcast, but Fr. Stephen Pullis is still finding creative ways to reach out to his audience as isolation and “social distancing” have become the norm.

Fr. Pullis, who along with Danielle Center hosts the archdiocese’s popular evangelization-themed podcast, has begun hosting a nightly interactive Facebook Live session in which he encourages questions, offers prayers and talks to people about how they can spiritually fortify themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Every evening at 7:15 p.m., Fr. Pullis sits down with his 1,959 Facebook friends and others who tune in looking for spiritual guidance. 

The idea came from just knowing there are a lot of people who wish they could be at Mass, for whom, the parish is a big part of their social life,” Fr. Pullis, who also serves as director of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, told Detroit Catholic. “In a time when we can’t receive holy Communion, when Mass is not publicly celebrated, I thought it would be good to find ways for people to connect digitally, to bring people together, so we can experience community, to have some kind of catechetical formation. 

The idea started when Marisa Rosenbaum, a friend of Fr. Pullis, suggested he start an “ask me anything” forum on the popular social media platform. His first post on March 17 got more than 1,900 views. 

Each day brings a different theme: “Make-it-up” Monday, “Talk-to-me” Tuesday, “Wisdom” Wednesday, “Tell-me” Thursday, “Favorites” Friday, “Spiritual” Saturday and “Sacred” Sunday. The topics vary from the spiritual — such as a homily or different styles of prayer — to something fun or a random question from the virtual audience. 

“One of the good habits of Unleash the Gospel is a spirit of innovation,” Fr. Pullis said. “Throughout history, what has driven innovation has been necessity. We can’t do things the way we used to do them. In times when we are deprived, we still need to connect and grow in our faith. I feel it’s a time of innovation, a time to try new things. 

While everyone’s plans, including the Church’s, are shifting day to day, Fr. Pullis said his brief “fireside chats” are just an example of the many ways disciples of Christ can stay “on mission” — even from the confines of one’s own home.

To be a disciple of Jesus is to follow where he goes, and this is one of the places where he is going,” Fr. Pullis said. “To be a disciple means we don’t get to choose the circumstances or crosses of life. It means being faithful to him. The call to sanctity and holiness is not on hold right now. We just have to look for different ways to commit ourselves to Jesus. 

Tune in

Fr. Pullis’ Facebook Live sessions begin each evening at 7:15 p.m. at https://www.facebook.com/frstephen.pullis until further notice. Listeners can also catch up on episodes of “Open Door Policy” at opendoorpolicy.aod.org