Regular worshippers at a Spalding church who have missed services through illness in the past can now be part of them from their own homes.
The Immaculate Conception and St Norbert’s, more popularly known as St Norbert’s Church, have given its members a 21st century Christmas present by introducing live streaming of its services across the internet.
The new service, installed by ex-church member Soni Thomas, starts with a special Christmas Day Mass at 8am on Sunday when hundreds of viewers can join in with worshippers at St Norbert’s, while watching on their computer screens.
Father Jim Burke, Parish Priest of St Norbert’s, said: “We’ve had parishioners in the past who have been housebound and have used the internet as a means to participate in Mass broadcast from other churches, mainly in Ireland.
“We’ve always thought that it would be a nice idea if we could stream Mass from our own church so that people can feel part of the congregation.
“We have an ageing population which we want to reach out to, especially our housebound parishioners, and the streaming of Mass means that people will feel connected to the church.
People who can no longer be physically present at St Norbert’s can now feel part of our services and they can participate from where they are restingFather Jim Burke, Parish Priest of The Immaculate Conception and St Norbert’s, Spalding
“This will be especially so at important times like our Christmas and Easter celebrations.”
Soni, now based in Peterborough, used his 13 years of experience and “expertise” as a network engineer, systems analyst and IT engineer to set up the live streaming service at St Norbert’s where he was a parishioner himself until about 18 months ago.
Mr Burke said: “Soni has given his time and expertise freely which means that we were able to have our first live streaming of Mass on Christmas Day.
“It’s all programmed into a special webcam (video camera) and its work to a schedule, allowing Mass to be streamed automatically over the internet.
“People who can no longer be physically present at St Norbert’s can now feel part of our services and they can participate from where they are resting.”
St Norbert’s holds Mass eight times a week, Sunday to Saturday, including five services at weekends.
Mr Burke said: “People who are far away and from different parts of the world can now see family members who worship at St Norbert’s.
“It’s very exciting because we’re on of the first, if not the first church to have this facility in operation full-time.
“I know that other churches are considering this facility and I’m sure it’s something that will be popular.
“But the most important thing is that people feel connected to the church and Soni has really done a good job in making the live streaming facility available.”
For live streaming of Mass at St Norbert’s, visit http://www.stnorberts.org.uk/ and click on “Live From Church”.