Mass card suppliers have seen a “huge increase” in demand for Mass cards since they moved online at the beginning of the pandemic.
This increase has been accompanied by a rise in requests for memoriam cards in recent months, as the year’s anniversary of many of the pandemic’s initial deaths comes about.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Sr Fiachra Nutty of St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn, Co. Waterford said that the demand was “out of the blue”, but that they came to understand it was because many of the parish offices were closed around the country.
“As the lockdown persisted, we came to understand that an awful lot of parish offices were closed because they’re manned by volunteers in many cases, so all the shops closed. People who wanted a Mass said, where could they go?” she said.
The online shop was integral to their success, Sr Nutty said, adding that people came “directly to us” when they realised they could both supply Mass cards and arrange to have them signed.
“It grew from there. It wasn’t that we set out to market Mass cards or anything like that, it’s just the way it came about. We were astonished by the number of them that we sold over the months.”
A visiting priest from Dungarvan who acquires his Mass cards from St Mary’s Abbey revealed that he’d never seen such a demand for Mass cards in his own parish, Sr Nutty said, continuing, “it seems to be the flipside of the downward movement in one area”.
“What greater gift can you give to anybody who is in extremis, whatever that crisis is, than the gift of the Mass? That’s the greatest gift you can give anybody,” she said.
The increased demand since moving online was also seen by the Augustinians, who only moved their Mass cards online at the onset of the pandemic by chance.
Executive Assistant to the Provincial Clare Brophy said that the online shop was a lifeline, as it “literally was our only income” during the depths of lockdown.
“We were lucky, really. When everything closed down, we were able to launch the online shop and it was slow to start off with, it took a couple of months, but then slowly but surely, it seemed to gather momentum because people were ringing up asking us did we do online cards,” Ms Brophy said.
Not limited to the domestic market, “loads of requests” for cards came from Germany and America, she said, with their Mass and Christmas cards being the top sellers.