Faith in a Different Way: How technology is helping Catholics to build communitiesFriday 24th April 2020
In all areas of society people are having to adapt how they work, live and communicate. For us as a Church, this means living out our faith in a different way. Below you can read three stories of how parishes in our diocese are keeping connected with each other, despite having to remain apart.
A Pilgrimage, Together Apart
At St Cuthbert’s, Bolton, parishioners will become virtual pilgrims, travelling to Lourdes, Rome, the Holy Land and then Camino to Santiago over the next month.
Fr Chris Gorton is inviting people in our diocese and further afield to join him on the pilgrimage, hosted on the parish Youtube channel, where they will stream live from the Grotto with people lighting candles at home, joining the HCPT Trust Mass, joining the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and culminating in a social quiz for the parish to get involved with.
Fr Chris said: “I think while we are physically stuck at home, we can go to different places and different times, and if we do it together there is something about making a pilgrimage together.
“There are lots of people trying lots of different things in parishes at the moment and I think that is terrific, the more the merrier. If somebody wants to try something new, I would say give it a go and if it doesn’t quite work don’t give up! People are very appreciative and this is a major opportunity to support people on their faith journey and evangelise.”
At the parish, there is also a project that is being put together which hopes to pass the light of Christ with the word of hope which you can hear more about here. Other parishes might want to do their own version – or something different – and Fr Chris invites anyone to use anything they see or develop it further.
Building Virtual Communities
Fr Kieren Mullarkey, parish priest at St John Henry Newman, is just one parish priest who has been livestreaming Mass on the parish Facebook page. Despite a few teething problems to begin with – and helping a few older parishioners learn how to access the livestream – the livestreaming began to come together just before Holy Week. Fr Kieren’s livestreams have on occasion featured the parish dog who has stolen the show and have reached places as far as Chicago, Australia and Canada!
In the comments section parishioners and those from further afield are building virtual communities, having chats and keeping connected with one another.
Fr Kieren said: “The Triduum was very strange. Although the Diocese had provided revised rubrics for the private celebration of the Triduum, you notice perhaps more clearly the absent moments of communal celebration.
“I do miss the celebration of the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. I really miss baptisms, especially during this Easter time, and have had to defer up to 30 of them.
“When the doors are open again, I think I might invest in someway to continue a form of livestreaming.
“Somebody commented recently that I made them feel that they were here with me … I suppose that’s a compliment! Needless to say I miss the cry of a child or the laughter of adults at the ed of Mass. The doors will open again soon and I can’t wait to welcome the punters home!”
Put the Kettle on!
At the Parish of the Holy Family in Denton, livestreaming has also become the norm. When the lockdown began Fr Christopher Dawson and his parishioners started a Faebook page and then, during Holy Week, began livestreaming Mass as a way to join together in prayer and keep the parish together.
Each week at the parish under normal circumstances, a number of coffee mornings are held to raise funds for charity and offering an opportunity for parishioners to get to know each other and chat. Another group, which gets together weekly to discuss the following Sunday Gospel, has moved online so that parishioners can continue to meet over a brew while maintaining a sense of normality.
Fr Christopher said: “The benefit of this is simply being able to keep in touch with each other in these difficult times.
“If you’re planning to host your own coffee morning, I’d advise keeping cyber-security in mind. Don’t put links for meetings on public media, such as parish websites, Facebook pages or twitter, instead share the link by email or on a closed Whatsapp group to people you know.
“It would be good too if a parishioner was able to ‘host’ the meeting rather than the priest so the meeting can begin pretty much as Mass ends, whereas it would take me quite a few minutes to tidy away, lock Church and then begin the meeting.”
How are you keeping in touch during this Covid-19 pandemic? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org