Five ways your parish can increase digital access to Mass amid COVID-19

1: Live-stream Masses

Several social network channels — YouTube, Facebook and Instagram — have live-streaming functionality. Parishes with accounts on these platforms can begin live-streaming immediately. If your parish does not have a social media account on these platforms, it is free.

For Facebook, create a Facebook page, which can then begin live-streaming. All accounts on Instagram have access to live-streaming via Instagram TV. 3/17/2020 2:50 PM Update: YouTube has recently raised the live-streaming functionality for mobile devices to 1,000 subscribers. If your parish has fewer than 1,000 subscribers, you may still be able to stream on YouTube live on a laptop or desktop machine; see the guide below.

While advanced technology, high-quality audio, and production-quality lighting are important, in today’s environment it is more important to provide the Mass, regardless of quality.

Test your equipment in a daily Mass, or just test by asking your parish priest or the volunteering coordinator to record a “live invitation” in the space that Mass will be streamed. This will help you determine sound/lighting/filming quality and allow you to experiment before streaming Mass.

2: Ask for help if you need it

If live-streaming a Mass is intimidating, ask your parishioners for help. Young parishioners may already be live streaming or creating videos for their personal accounts on a regular basis, so this would be an easy project to engage them. Also, remember they are not in the high-risk population regarding the coronavirus.

3: Share other Masses available online

If live-streaming your Masses is just not an option, either due to lack of technology or help, direct your parishioners to another parish in our diocese that does have the capacity to live-stream their Masses. Several of our parishes have tested this process successfully, and have opened their “digital doors” to the faithful in our diocese who wish to join them.

Of course, there are other sources outside of our diocese who are live-streaming services, a list of which can be found here.

4: Record a Sunday Mass to share later

If live-streaming is not an option, because of internet connectivity or other challenges, consider recording a Sunday Mass which can be hosted on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or any other video service, or your parish website (if it supports video). The link can then be emailed to parishioners.

Videos of Masses could be recorded on many different types of cameras or even cell phones. Most smartphones have the capability to record high-quality image and sound. You may have to clip your Mass into several parts due to storage volume and seam them together using Movie Maker (Windows) or iMovie (iPhone). Those are both available on their respective App Stores – or you may just label them Mass Part I, Part II, Part II, etc.

5: Share how to tune-in to a Mass on TV or on the Radio

Some parishes and parishioners lack reliable internet access. If this is the case for your parish, radio stations and TV stations are broadcasting Masses as well.

To provide a quick reference for your parish:

Link: EWTN Channels by Zip Code

Link: Covenant Radio Stations & Schedules Across Missouri

Keep in mind, if your parishioners lack access to reliable internet, they may not be able to click the above links to access the information on their own. In that case, it may be helpful for you, as a parish, to select the appropriate channels/stations in your area and list them in the notices you send out to parishioners.

On the importance of getting the word out:

It may be challenging to get the word out about how and where to go to watch this video to all parishioners. Emailing is very helpful, so if your parish office has the capability to share links via email to all or most parishioners, this would be a good first step.

Many parishes have “small groups” built-in to their ministries. For example, you can share links to the Knights of Columbus, Ladies Sodality, RCIA groups, Confirmation formation groups, Youth Groups, School Families contact lists, etc. If your parish needs help setting up a communications plan during this time, please reach out to Ashley Wiskirchen, Director of Parish Communications for resources.

Of course, this is a time for prayer. We can and should pray for an increase in faith, during this trial. We can pray for unity, and respond in mercy, as Bishop McKnight has called us to do. Parishes are being provided resources to help coordinate Disaster Responders Teams, of which you may desire to be a part. We will keep our Public Health page updated as frequently as possible, to keep you up-to-date and aware of any changes.