The digital parish emerges

The digital parish emerges
Worshipping online will remain part of our new normal, writes Brenda Drumm

So the digital parish has truly emerged these past few weeks and months in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have been speaking about a digital Church for a number of years and sharing tips with each other on being Church online.

With the coronavirus restrictions leading to the temporary closure of the physical church building for the public celebration of Mass, we saw our prayer services and our celebration of the Eucharist moving into the online spaces.

Parishes and dioceses across the country rose to the challenge of providing fruitful and meaningful Faith experiences online. The statistics show that parishioners responded in their millions, flocking to the services provided: morning prayer, evening prayer, daily Mass, holy hours, Eucharistic Adoration, the Holy Week and Easter ceremonies and Sunday Mass.

During the pandemic many parishes began to reach out into the deep of the internet for the first time and it has been a sharp learning curve”

Because of the large numbers they usually attract, annual novenas and pilgrimages are not possible this year. But we have seen a really creative response from Lough Derg, Knock Shrine and Lourdes, which has allowed pilgrims to participate in virtual pilgrimages from their home.

Pilgrimages

Even though many churches have now reopened for public worship, numbers remain restricted due to the current health guidelines in place. We are still relying heavily on our online services complementing our public worship. It is likely that our online offerings as parish, especially when it comes to novenas and pilgrimages, will have to be sustained into the future.

During the pandemic many parishes began to reach out into the deep of the internet for the first time and it has been a sharp learning curve. Some parishes skipped straight to providing daily/Sunday broadcast of Mass, but there is so much more you can offer as a parish in the online spaces. There are a few suggestions of how you might continue to reach out at as parish online at this time in the panal above.

Being Church online is here to stay. We have no idea how long more the various restrictions will be in place keeping our churches at reduced capacity for Mass and other gatherings.

We have no idea what a second wave might do.

We have much to be grateful for and proud of in how parishes and dioceses have responded to the pandemic and ensured that the face of Christ is seen and the voice of Christ is heard at a time when we need the anchor and scaffolding of our Faith more than ever.

I look forward to sharing more tips and advice on being Church online.

If you have a specific query you would like addressed, please get in touch via info@irishcatholic.ie