Seven years ago, Fr. Jim needed a way to connect with a boy from his parish. For whatever reason, the child did not want to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation with his class. While visiting the boy’s family, Fr. Jim noticed that he was playing Minecraft, and that’s when he saw in this decade-old game an invaluable way to reach the next generation.
“I saw him playing Minecraft, a video sandbox game where you can build whatever your imagination inspires. I like the idea of building up instead of destroying like some other video games. So the thought came to mind to present a little of the Catholic faith within the world of Minecraft.”
Fr. Jim produced a video about the Catholic Mass, which he shared with the boy. Taken by the video immediately, the boy began sharing it with his friends who agreed that it was a fun idea. For Fr. Jim, however, the fun was just beginning, as he decided to continue his work presenting Catholicism through the Minecraft medium.
To accomplish this, Fr. Jim launched the Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith) YouTube Channel, where he posts videos of his Catholic constructions. The goal of the channel is to draw otherwise unchurched individuals toward a sense of transcendent beauty portrayed in sacred art and architecture. To this end, Fr. Jim has made his own Minecraft Sacred Art Museum.
Since beginning his journey, Fr. Jim has overseen the recreations of some of the most iconic Catholic sites. Some, like his recent Stations of the Cross, are modest in scope and seem relatively easy to build. Others, like the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica of St. Augustine, were Herculean undertakings that drew on the skills of several builders to complete.
Of these larger works, Fr. Jim explained:
“, Pauline Chapel, Sala Regia and were built by several friends who all contributed to that monumental project!. A great variety of people have visited the server, from a Dominican priest to a seminarian to students of a wide range of ages. The Dominican built an in-game St. Vincent Ferrer Convent, modeled on one in real life; it even represents some of the friars praying in the chapel.”
The “Minecraft priest” said that he finds inspiration for his builds in real life situations. When he instructs on Catholic teachings he often finds topics that would translate well into the game. This has led to such videos asand to be added to the channel.
For his most recent creation, “The Stations of the Cross,” Fr. Jim drew inspiration from Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. He said that he hopes that he can eventually bring the Stations he built in Minecraft to the real world:
“The idea came to mind of building an actual outdoor Stations of the Cross and Stations of the Eucharist at my parish and I am using the Minecraft program as a simple modeling tool to give the contractor and parish staff an image of my vision for the ‘real life build.’”
Fr. Jim went on to note that he does not consider it a “Minecraft Ministry,” but says there is a community. Fr. Jim welcomes anyone with an interest to visit the server and view the Catholic themed sites. In fact, in one instance, an in-game chapel was used for prayer. Fr. Jim explained:
“A few years ago, a high school student who loves the Divine Office prayed Vespers virtually in St. Peter’s Basilica on my realm, but that was exceptional. Normally it is just a game where people work on Catholic themed builds.”
As stated, anyone who wishes to visit Fr. Jim’s Minecraft realm is welcome to follow the in-game address lumen.realms.bcsn.us. Visitors are also allowed to take part in builds, but for that they need special permission from Fr. Jim. Those interested can send Fr. Jim in-game mail via the /mail function, or they can contact him on Discord at LumenFidei#8091.