Since St. Joseph Catholic Church introduced virtual Masses one year ago in response to the pandemic, it’s had the unintended, yet advantageous, result of helping them reach a worldwide congregation.
The second youngest of four children from the Flores family, who have lived on Beacon Hill and been parishioners at St. Joseph’s for about a dozen years, recently received First Communion during a virtual Mass as his grandparents watched from their home in Spain, for instance.
This was the first time the grandparents were able to overcome the “geographical constraints,” said Fr. Joe White, the church’s pastor, to witness one of their grandchildren receive the sacrament.
The church now live streams its Sunday Mass at 9 a.m. each week, which is also held as an “in-person” service, said Fr. White, while services on Sunday at 4 p.m., as well as on Wednesday and Friday at 12:10 p.m., are in-person-only events.
There are plans to live-stream services through Lent, added Fr. White, as well as for International Designated Year of St. Joseph – a time, he said, that “allows for spiritual enrichment.”
Services on Friday, March 19, for Solemnity of St. Joseph, which Fr. White describes as “the annual feast of St. Joseph,” will be live streamed as well.
St. Joseph’s, meanwhile, first made the move to virtual services out of necessity during the second week of Lent last year, said Fr. White, since at that time, only 10 people maximum were allowed to gather for Mass (and those restrictions lasted through Lent, Holy Week and Easter).
“Since there were no full Mass gatherings a year ago,” Fr. White said, “we live streamed the services, so parishioners could connect in spirituality, faith and worship.”
Besides live-streaming religious services, St. Joseph’s also offers virtual “Coffee & Donuts,” following Mass on the second Sunday of each month, including March 14, at 10:30 a.m.
“It has allowed people to connect in fellowship,” said Fr. White, “and it also gives me the opportunity to update them on any parish information, concerns, suggestions and complaints.”
Attendance at “Coffee & Donuts” has increased each month since its inception, added Fr. White, as have “the smiles and joy” from parishioners when they’re able to see each other again from the safety of their own homes.
And while the inevitable technological glitch still occasionally hinders virtual events because, as Fr. White said, live streaming is still a “work in progress” for St. Joseph’s, it’s also definitely here to stay.
“I’d like to extend our gratitude to everyone assisting with the technology as we continue to get back to the basics of interrelationships that parishes are meant to be and have,” said Fr. White. “Out of pandemic necessity comes a new ministry in parish, and we envision the fact that henceforth we’ll be live streaming a Mass every week.”
Fr. White requested that parishioners also “stay tuned” to The Beacon Hill Times for upcoming details on St. Joseph’s schedule for Holy Week and Easter.
For more information, visit www.stjosephboston.org or call the St. Joseph’s parish office at 617-523-4342.