A parish goes digital - a blog from Sacred Heart

POST BY ACassidy

On the feast of St Joseph we celebrated the last public Mass at the Sacred Heart Church in Edinburgh.

This followed the announcement by the Bishops of Scotland to suspend public Masses due to the coronavirus outbreak. During his homily, Fr William Pearsall SJ, spoke of St Joseph as the patron saint of changed plans. This reflection was appropriate as in the subsequent days Fr William and I developed a number of plans to reach out to our parishioners and as further restrictions were placed by the Government, each plan had to be modified.

Eventually, I had to work from home and as Pastoral Associate at the Sacred Heart Church I wondered how I could adapt and continue my pastoral work remotely. It occurred to me that I could continue my group meetings online. I decided to trial this with the parish RCIA group using Zoom to host the meeting. It worked wonderfully and enabled me to continue the journey with our candidates.

We have opened a number of avenues of communication through various platforms including the new website, our Facebook page, and YouTube channel where we have posted videos for our parishioners and the wider community. We have also kept in contact with our parishioners via the great Scottish invention: the telephone.

I was also mindful of the importance of gathering as a community. One of the key experiences that gathers our parish together is our Sunday coffee mornings. This gave me the idea to trial a coffee morning via Zoom. It was a chance to have a cuppa and see some friendly faces. This proved to be very successful and has also enabled parishioners who would not normally interact to do so. Due to the popularity, I have had to add an additional coffee morning!

The lockdown has also allowed me to develop a young adult group in the parish using Zoom. This is particularly positive as we did not have this group in the parish. Although there are many downsides to the current restrictions, it is allowing something new to flourish - it is bringing the Church into our homes in a way that would previously have been inconceivable.

Blog by Andrew Cassidy, Pastoral Associate at the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Edinburgh.