Although the long-established impact of Covid-19 on faith and worship has been extensively documented, positive news has emerged as Radio Maria announced that it has seen texts, calls and general engagement triple when compared to figures compiled before the pandemic, with the station being used as a faith-based resource by those who were deprived of contact with their local churches during the pandemic.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic, managing director of Radio Maria, Aidan O’Rourke, commented on how the station has seen a marked increase in public interaction during the pandemic. “We kind of feel it here in terms of the amount of people ringing, texting and calling. Engagement with the station has tripled just before the pandemic to now.
“We have recently surpassed 20,000 monthly online streaming listeners in Ireland and around the world and a further estimated 20,000 listeners via Saorview TV. We have also seen a dramatic rise in people listening into Masses via phone, with over 1,600 callers. These figures were significantly lower before the pandemic.”
Radio Maria’s status as a beacon of hope for those seeking faith-based programming during lockdowns is something that Mr O’Rourke is aware of and representing the unrepresented amid such challenging times has added greater responsibility to the station as many depended on it in times of anxiety and loss during the pandemic.
“A lot of the feedback we get is from people who probably felt lonely and isolated during the lockdown and they couldn’t connect then,” Mr O’Rourke said. “It kind of kept the flame of faith alive and helped to kindle that flame during a difficult time.
“Radio Maria exists and we’re here to serve people during difficult moments, especially when people can’t physically get to the church, they could be bed bound or in hospital and we want to reach out to these people,” he said.