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As a community we have adapted in many ways over the past year and a half. Last year, at this time we were working to install our new livestreaming equipment and training our staff members on the process.
We filmed our first Sunday Mass on July 26, 2020. As a member of the team, we felt a huge sense of accomplishment. We had started serving our community in an entirely new way in a matter of months. We could feel the outpouring of support and appreciation throughout our staff and parishioners.
Each week we would see posts online from parishioners who were so thankful for the ability to participate in Mass live at home. Seeing the community engage online opened up new conversations from people all over the country and world.
Now, a year later, we continue to work to improve the livestream experience for those watching at home—adjusting camera positions and expanding our use of the equipment to improve our processes. We have also recently installed a new desk for the livestream equipment—to house the computers and camera set-up more securely and cleanly in the church.
The livestream has become an evangelization tool to reach out to the broader community and world. We see new visitors finding Mass for the first time online and starting to engage with our community. For many it’s a first step to exploring their faith and joining the parish. We also hear from many who are homebound or in care facilities that attending Mass online has been greatly appreciated and plan to continue to participate from home.
Johan van Parys, Director of Liturgy and the Sacred Arts, said, “when it became impossible for us to gather as a community due to the pandemic we thought it extremely important to find ways to connect with the members of our parish community. If our parishioners were not able to come to us we wanted to be able to go to them. Although virtual worship is not ideal it has allowed us to stay in touch and to pray together albeit virtually. I am very grateful we were able to acquire the necessary equipment. I greatly appreciate the willingness on the part of our staff to learn new things and to pivot and adapt on short notice and with great regularity. This being said, I am so happy we now can gather again in person to celebrate the liturgy.”
The livestream is also a great way to stay connected to The Basilica this summer. As you make your summer travel and cabin plans—you can still participate in Mass from any mobile device. We see many of our parishioners post they are attending Mass from “up north” locations this summer.
With the support of The Basilica Landmark, we have been able to continue to envision what a virtual Basilica can be for our community. We are exploring more livestreaming capabilities to add to the church and campus. Our staff is exploring how we will work in the new hybrid reality of in-person and at-home attendance across all of our programs and ministries.
As we closely monitor our viewer analytics each week and will continue to set goals for further engagement with our home attendees. The metrics provide data on what platforms work best and how to assess our communication needs going forward.
As many parishioners will be transitioning back to in-person Mass, we look forward to welcoming you back, but recognize that the livestream has become a valued experience for many in our community. We plan to continue to livestream our Masses and services going forward and see this new ministry as an opportunity to reach beyond The Basilica walls and welcome people in new ways to our community.