Roman Catholic parishes across central Maine have begun offering online programming and events to churchgoers in response to growing coronavirus restrictions.

This comes one week after the Diocese of Portland announced it was temporarily suspending all of its Masses and religious gatherings statewide.

“Temporarily suspending Masses will help to ensure the safety of our older parishioners and our priests, particularly those who are also among the most vulnerable,” Bishop Robert P. Deeley said in a news release.

The Corpus Christi Parish in Waterville offers virtual stations of the cross on its Instagram page, which will be posted every Friday at 3 p.m., and accepts online giving on its website.

Corpus Christi also has an app which can be downloaded by texting App to 88202.

Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Dexter and St. Agnes Parish in Pittsfield will host online Masses to its joint Facebook page on Fridays at 10:30 a.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Mondays at 10:30 a.m.

Online giving for Our Lady of the Snows can be found at ourladyofthesnowsme.weshareonline.org and St. Agnes at saintagnes.weshareonline.org

The Rev. Aaron Damboise, pastor at St. Anthony Parish in Jackman and Holy Family Parish in Greenville, will lead Masses on Facebook on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8:30 a.m., Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 a.m., and Sundays at 11 a.m. 

“These services are a reminder to people that even in the worst of times God is here with us,” Damboise said during a phone call Saturday. “The blessing given during Mass still counts; it doesn’t matter if it’s in person or online, God’s blessings are not limited to physical presence.”

Parishioners can participate in the Masses through Damboise’s Facebook page.

Damboise will also offer the sacrament of reconciliation in a drive-thru format at Holy Family Church in Greenville on Saturdays at 3 p.m. and at St. Anthony of Padua Parish Jackman on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

St. Michael Parish in Augusta will offer a live praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on weekdays at 3 p.m. through its Facebook page. The parish also has virtual stations of the cross and an online parish link where people can find messages and prayers.

The Rev. John Skehan said the new online approach has been a learning curve for the parish.

“Most of us, most of the churches have not regularly been doing something with video recording or live streaming because we haven’t really needed to,” Skehan said during a phone call on Saturday. “So we’re trying to figure out what to do technologically to stay in touch with all of our parishioners.”

Skehan said St. Michael’s recently live streamed a Mass for its Catholic school and garnered a great response from students.

“This past Thursday we live streamed our normal Mass that would be with the students and they tuned in at home,” Skehan said. “We had 115 to 120 people watching it live and I think some of the students put on their ‘go to Mass’ uniforms and they took that pretty seriously so that was fun to hear.”

With Holy Week coming up, Skehan said the parish is figuring out a way to provide online services for Masses that typically draw a large crowd like Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday.  

“The one good thing to come out of this is that we will probably use live streaming and social media in more ways going forward,” Skehan said. “Not so much for Mass but maybe a video clip of things going on in the parish to keep people in the know.” 

A full list of services from parishes statewide can be found on the Diocese of Portland’s website.


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