It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year since our lives being interrupted by a global pandemic. It’s like the pause button was hit and we’re just now starting to move forward from the pause. I don’t need to go on about the things we missed, about the people we lost, or the loved ones we didn’t get to see. I know time etched those events in your mind. They are cemented in mine.
It’s hard to see the bright side of a year where so much loss, grief, and uncertainty prevailed, however, working at the parish, we have seen the growth of our parish community. On April 9, 2020, after doing Liturgy of the Word podcasts, we streamed our first Mass, which happened to be the Mass of the Lord’s Supper—the beginning of the Triduum. There were 165 people who joined us from home to celebrate this Mass from a distance. Below is a screenshot of that Mass.
This picture brings back memories! Looking at this picture, I am reminded that we were using a Canon camera on video mode, a 40ft USB extension cable so our cameraman, Luke Pajk, was able to move the camera around the altar, a laptop that sounded like it was about to take off into orbit because we were pushing it so hard with streaming, and that there was a constant echo that we sometimes had under control and sometimes we didn’t. I’m still not sure where that echo was coming from. It was a baptism by fire moment. We weren’t sure what we were doing, but we wanted to bring something to everyone at home.
This picture also reminds me of how amazing this parish community is. The support of the parish community as we learned on the fly, the patience of the community when things didn’t pan out, and the gratitude. It was truly a reminder of how the Blessed Sacrament Parish Community is connected no matter how much space is between us! Thank you for your support, encouragement, and words of affirmation.
Also, during that time, our bulletin publisher stopped printing bulletins, we weren’t able to hand out the Little Books for Easter, and we had to go full digital. We had been using Flocknote for about six months when the shut down happened. We used that tool to keep in touch with everyone as we weren’t able to gather in person. We also started using Flocknote to send out the Little Book reflections as daily emails. This is something we are still doing and have over 400 subscribers for the Little Book reflections!
Fast forward to March 2021 and we are not fully open, but we are back in person. We are on our way to getting everyone who wants a vaccination vaccinated. We installed a camera system that allows us to livestream Mass and the quality is so much better than the Canon camera we used a year ago. For comparison, here is a screenshot from a recent Mass:
For reference, in the first picture the camera was about 12 feet away from Fr. Rob. In the second picture, the camera is about 50 feet from the altar.
You made this possible through your generosity, your encouragement, and your support. We are now able to bring Mass in to the homes of those who cannot join us in person. We have a six-person volunteer livestream team that take turns running the system to make sure those who want to see and be with their parish community in spirit have that ability.
We hope that as we approach Triduum 2021, more of us will be able to gather to celebrate the holiest time of the Church. However, what 2020 taught us is that no matter how much time or space is between us, this parish community continues to grow in love for God and love for one another.