Remote parishioners are changing the dynamic of Catholic parishes

Shutting small parish communities and merging them with a larger one is leaving people stranded. Covid’s remnants also leaves some people feeling vulnerable.

For others, and for a possible range of reasons, the local parish is no longer spiritually nourishing.

One woman, Betty Ann Asaro, and has become a remote parishioner at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts, probably now for about a year.

She admits being a remote parishioner is not the ideal, but by taking responsibility for her spiritual life, growth and development, she is in some way being spiritually nourished, unlike she was previously.

When COVID began, Asaro was not a registered parishioner in any Catholic church. She attended a church that was near where she happened to be.

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to register into a parish.

It was she could not find a parish where she felt there was community.

Asaro tells her story.

“So when I was introduced to the liturgy, which was live-streamed at St Cecilia, I can’t tell you what it did to me.

“It’s like my whole world opened up, and I knew that I wanted to continue to participate in this live-stream liturgy every Sunday.

“Last September, and October, St Cecilia’s was looking for volunteers.

“They could be remote. And I’m like, Wow. And they wanted people to volunteer to assist them with the live-stream liturgy. Didn’t know how, but I wrote an email. I want to be a part of that Sunday,” said Asaro.

“So as soon as the Mass begins and the opening song occurs, the online chat starts.

“It’s simultaneous with Mass!

“Once in a while, someone will say, Oh, so happy to see you, Annette, who says she was ‘blown away’ by the experience.

“I don’t think they realize the depth of the little seeds of connection that people are feeling,” she said.

Asaro says she’s ok most of the times getting through the liturgy, but admits she has a problem when it comes to Holy Communion.

She says she wants to receive Holy Communion but relises she is not able to.

Asaro says that instead of receiving Communion she prays fervently, but admits it is not the same.

However, because she wants to receive Holy Communion and be nourished sacramentally Asaro, on occasions, attends a weekday Mass.

She says live-streaming Mass is something she’s not totally comfortable with, but is something she has to live with.

“To be connected to Saint Cecilia (live-stream) means that I am able to go there and be supported in my faith. To live my day with hope.”

Asaro knows that St Cecilia is not the only church in the United States or in the world that has this community, and while not physically present, it is a community that nourishes her and that people now have a choice.


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