Parishes reach out through technology

GO HERE for a list of parishes offering live streams and videos of Masses, homilies and/or Eucharistic adoration. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

Lindsay Steele
Father Jeffry Belger speaks to students during Mass at Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City last fall. Father Belger records his homilies and posts them online for people who cannot attend Mass.

 

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Last week, Johnson County parishes and schools moved to Step Three of the diocesan pandemic policy, dispensing Catholics in the diocese from the obligation to attend Mass. Most of Iowa’s COVID-19 cases at the time were from that county. During this time, which preceded Bishop Thomas Zinkula’s March 16 announcement of diocesan-wide suspension on public worship, priests in the county found ways to reach out to parishioners at home.

Father Guillermo Trevino, parochial vicar for St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty, St. Bernadette Parish in West Branch and St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City, posted PDF versions of his homily online — something he doesn’t normally do. “With the current situation of parishioners staying at home, I told them I would post my homilies on the website. I do not write out my homilies, which is why they are never online but this is a unique time, so I wrote them out for once,” he said. Father Trevino published English and Spanish versions of his Sunday homily on http://stjosephwestliberty.org/. Father Rudolph Juarez, pastor for the parishes, said he plans to have his homilies posted on St. Pat’s website, www.stpatsic.com.

Father Jeffry Belger, priest director of Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, said he has been making audio recordings of his homilies — something he did previously while pastor of St. Mary Parish in Pella. That parish had a sound system that allowed audio to be recorded straight from the soundboard for a clear sound, and he posted the homilies online. It was helpful for people who were homebound or wanted to hear the homily again, he said.

Newman Center is updating its sound and video system. In the meantime, he records a version of the homily in his office and posts it online. Parishes that wish to make audio recordings of homilies might want to do something similar if they do not have the technology to record straight from a soundboard. Recording during Mass from a cell phone or other device distorts the sound quality too much.

St. Mary Parish in Iowa City, which is in the heart of the University of Iowa campus, uploads videos of Mass each week. “In light of the current situation it would be another way to keep holy the Lord’s Day.”

While people can watch or listen to Masses broadcast nationally, Father Belger sees a benefit in parishes making efforts to help their parishioners stay connected when they cannot be in the pews. Posting audio and video online makes it easier for the faithful to evangelize. “Once you post something, people can share it.”


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