As the current pandemic situation continues, many parishes around the country are exploring the concept of online liturgies, and live streamed masses. Detailed below is some guidance on how to facilitate this, with the hope that it may be useful in your local parish. Even if your parish has not been participating in online liturgies since the start of lockdown, it is very possible to begin now.
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Many churches are offering live-streamed services using MCN Media or other streaming services. The Archdiocese of Birmingham Virtual Pilgrimage to Lourdes made use of Facebook and Youtube. However, many people still long for the experience of participating in the liturgy. Whether that be readers, musicians, Eucharistic ministers or even just joining in with mass responses. With this in mind many parishes are turning to services such as Zoom, to enable a more involved worship.
Here are some of our top tips on how to make services like this, work as smoothly as possible:
- Choose an appropriate method of communication. For small groups such as prayer/rosary meetings, services such as WhatsApp video or Facebook Messenger may be suitable as they are popular and very easy to use. Whereas larger groups may turn to services such as Zoom or Skype, which allow much larger numbers of people, and facilitate screen sharing etc.
- Try implementing rotas for readers and Eucharistic ministers. Whilst it is tempting to assign a separate reader for each part of your liturgy, it can quickly becoming confusing. It may be better to use two readers for your first few services, and rotate each time. This helps avoid prolonged silences between readers.
- Produce a mass planner and distribute it to all participants. This allows everybody to see what should come next in the service and who is involved. CJM Music have produced a very useful blank mass planner template to help you get started.
- Try to pre-record music. Singing and playing instruments live doesn’t work particularly well via the internet. Instruments and singing will likely sound out of time with one another. Instead, it may be easier for musicians to work together to pre-record music and then play the recording during your live liturgy. Free apps such as Garageband, have proven to be very useful. The leader can record their part, send to other musicians to add their parts, and then all of the parts can be compiled to make a final track. Cloud sharing services such as Dropbox, are useful to keep everything organised, and apps such as Power Music can be useful for sharing sheet music. When in the liturgy, participants can sing along on mute.
- Learn to use ‘Mute’ functions. Passing cars, noisy pets and other background noises can be very irritating during your liturgy. Most services have an option to ‘Mute’ yourself when not participating, or services such as Zoom, even have a mute all function, which allows hosts to mute all participants.
- Use slides to present songs and readings. This allows people to join in with music and follow along with psalms, and readings. These are easy to produce using apps such as PowerPoint or Keynote, and allow you to add your music directly to them. Below are some examples.
- Try to set a regular time. It is much easier to organise things if everybody involved knows exactly when the service will be taking place. It may be useful to advise participants to enter the meeting slightly earlier to ensure everybody knows how to work the software etc.
Below we have produced two very simple guides to using Zoom.
Hopefully these tips and resources may prove helpful to your parish liturgies, until we are able to celebrate mass together again.