As the COVID-19 pandemic has closed churches throughout England, many worshippers have tuned in online to watch streaming services over social media sites such as Facebook or YouTube.
However, for people without regular internet access – many of them elderly or poor – it has been tough to keep connected with worship at the local parish.
“Parishes including my own in Redcar have been reaching out through YouTube, Facebook and sending out emails to try to keep in touch with people. But we also knew there are a whole lot of people who don’t have smartphones or internet access,” said Father Derek Turnham, the head of communications in the Diocese of Middlesbrough.
For this reason, the diocese has launched what it believes is the country’s first Catholic Mass available to listen to directly by an ordinary telephone.
The technology has been supported by the Knights of St. Columba, a British Catholic fraternal organisation.
The first edition of the new Mass-by-Phone service was the May 3 Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and 100 people participated.
The cathedral already broadcasts its Sunday Mass on YouTube, getting thousands of viewers, but the new service allows them to reach those who might feel left behind in the technological leap the Church has been making during the coronavirus crisis.
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With thanks to Crux and Charles Collins, where this article originally appeared.