Building Faith and Community

Thursday 24th June 2021

Hope in the Future – Pandemic Stories

Very soon after the first lockdown in March 2020, when access to our churches was not permitted, many of our parishes responded quickly and creativity to provide Mass online. Parishes who previously didn’t stream Mass learnt how to do so and got equipment fitted to their church to allow their parishioners to Pray at Home especially during the unusual Holy Week away from church. Some chose to host Zoom liturgies and involved parish readers and musicians and others provided online retreats, formation and other types of prayer.

St Vincent de Paul, Bolton – Life in Lockdown

Since lockdown, the parish has streamed Mass each day. Attendance has been great with a lively conversation taking place about the ongoing liturgy, its meaning and importance in this difficult time for many.

Parishioners were involved in preparing readings at home sending them in by video. Youth groups from local parishes joined in to read for a week. This gave a real feeling of being involved at home and not just watching. Parishioners from other parishes in the Deanery who had no live stream of their own joined the stream and this meant information could be passed on from their parishes.

Key worker children from St Bernard’s School also prepared stations of the  cross and decorations for the May altar. Services were streamed over Holy Week involving different participants. Children also had their children’s liturgy online once a month.

The parish ongoing formation programme did not stop, with the CaFE programme “Let it be” being run online.  A small group was set up to gather names and contacts of people who did not have online access and through their families found ways to allow them to participate online. Where that was not possible, designated contacts rang each week to chat and keep parishioners up to date  on  developments  from  the  Church.

In this period of time, communication over Facebook and an email newsletter grew. The parish also put on some social events via Zoom. A coffee morning  and Afternoon Tea, as well as a talent competition were among the choices made. It’s amazing that this time apart has brought the community closer together. A lot of the work during this lockdown will become a great platform for moving on in the community to a new normal.

St Cuthbert, Bolton – Online Prayer & Formation

During the lockdown, the parish continued to reach out with daily live streaming of Mass and Exposition; with an online presence offering An Ignatian Parish Retreat; three virtual Pilgrimages (Lourdes, Rome, The Holy Land) and daily prayers. Through video they shone a Light of Hope by passing on a lighted candle from person to person.

For the children they produced online readings, messages and building a home prayer corner. Fr Chris with Joshua and Woolly engaged with the younger ones. For the Youth there were online special messages and guided meditation. Through Zoom there were coffee mornings, a Quiz Night and a Talent Show.

Funds were raised for Bolton Hospice from a home sale of hanging baskets and food donations continued to be collected to support Urban Outreach. All this gave a strong link and a bond both within the parish and beyond. This    rich resource will be available to help people pray long after the lockdown. You can view it here.


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