In this week’s blog, I want to highlight some of the ideas parishes across our Diocese implemented to stay connected with the faithful and help keep the faith and hope alive.
One of the first methods to be implemented was the online streaming of Masses —Sunday and, in some cases, daily. These Masses can be found on Facebook live, YouTube, and live-streamed from the parish website. It is encouraging to see parishes continuing to offer daily Mass, in addition to weekend Masses. For an updated list of churches offering online masses, visit the Fall River diocese website.
In addition to the regular Liturgies, when possible, parishes have been able to offer live-streams of First Communions, Confirmations, and even funerals. The challenges of providing Mass online can be monumental from figuring out internet connections to the proper technology. Priests, staff, and parishioners have pooled their gifts and talents, persevered, and showed their dedication to bringing the Mass to those still uncomfortable or unable to attend for various reasons.
I applaud all of their efforts knowing first-hand the challenges, having learned myself how to share Mass from Facebook Live. The benefits, however, and the blessings are worth the effort when possible. After learning the basics for my initial Facebook Live broadcast, I was able in subsequent live streams to include music in my Facebook Live liturgies. On several occasions, I was able to celebrate Mass online in Portuguese, which allowed my family and friends in Brazil to attend virtually. After the broadcast, it amazed me to see comments from friends and family across the globe. It is good to look at the many blessings, even in the middle of difficult times.
Other ways parishes have been working in the virtual world to stay connected include priests hosting live chats or posting videos on social media. Their videos answer questions, offer reflections and catechesis on different aspects of the faith, and share thoughts on the daily readings. Some priests and deacons post their homilies online, either sharing as a blog entry on a website or recorded as a podcast.
There has also been an increase online of Catholic retreats and conferences, book clubs, Bible studies, live recitation of the Rosary and Stations of the Cross — both locally and nationally. Some parishes have offered more social-type online gatherings with Zoom youth group meetings, Catholic trivia nights, virtual Vacation Bible School for children. Some of our church choirs have used social media or Zoom to come together to practice. Even the Diocesan staff and I used Zoom to keep in touch and maintain diocesan business, as well as to pray the rosary together during the shutdown of our offices.
The creativity has been impressive and encouraging; I am sure there are even more ways parishes have utilized technology during this time, which we’re not yet aware of. Our social media team has been keeping an eye out and trying to share on the Fall River Diocese Facebook and Instagram accounts the many things happening in parishes online. If you would like your events, homilies, or posts shared, please send them a message or tag the diocese on social media.
The Fall River Catholic Schools Alliance and the many schools of our diocese made videos to offer virtual tours of our schools. Social media has been used to share plans for the upcoming school year and launch the “We have a Place for You,” campaign. These initiatives helped make families aware of the excellent Catholic School option available during this unprecedented school year.
We saw the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) use webinar technology to host a virtual fundraising event earlier this summer, aptly named, the “Un-Gala.” Making that time-treasured event that has taken place on Cape Cod every year for more than 20 years a new experience for our supporters of scholarships for children in our Catholic schools. It was well organized and executed; I can attest personally to all the hard work and dedication that went into making that event happen.
Again, I want to acknowledge my gratitude to our Diocesan schools’ administrators and staff, the Fall River Catholic School Alliance, the Catholic Foundation of Southern Massachusetts, FACE, and all our Priests, parish staff, and countless volunteers, for all of their continued hard work and dedication to the people and families of our diocese.
FACE Volunteer to Participate in the First New Balance Falmouth Road Race At-Home Edition!
In the spirit of how these unprecedented times have taught us all much about technology and community—I want to share an exciting opportunity for families.
In addition to the FACE Gala hosted every summer on Cape Cod, there is another time-treasured event with a new mode of delivery: the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, a Cape Cod tradition for nearly 50 years. This year’s At-Home Edition is taking place in August. Also, for the first time, Cassandra Robin, once a student in our Catholic Schools and now a volunteer for FACE, as well as a ministry leader at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pocasset, is participating to support FACE (to donate, please visit www.face-dfr.org/donate). Cassandra is finding a new way to support something close to her heart.
As we learn to live life differently but strive to ensure that the things we love and value remain close to our heart, let us be reminded that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm, 46:1). God’s love for us, our faith and our Church will guide us today and in the days ahead. If you doubt we have the strength to persevere, just look back on all that our Diocese, our parishes, our schools, and even our families have been able to accomplish.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha