IOL: Online Mass gives taste of home

Online Mass gives taste of home
24/12/2003 - 06:05:26

People around the globe will be able to enjoy a traditional Irish Christmas service in their own home for the first time this year.

Masses will be broadcast live on the internet on Christmas Day from the historic St Andrew’s Church in Dublin’s city centre.

Father Arthur O’Neill, the parish sdministrator, said the facility, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, was particularly poignant at this time of year.

“A lot of people who cannot come home for Christmas will be able to click home and feel as if they are part of the community,” he said.

“Many people who lived in this area have had to emigrate or move away so it’s nice that we can help them keep in touch with home.”

Fr O’Neill said the facility had received a very positive response from parishioners since its launch three weeks ago.

“People are excited about the possibilities,” he said.

“It offers a great contact point, especially at times like Christmas.

“People who unfortunately cannot make it home may feel a little closer when they can see the church and hear the choir in their living rooms.”

Fr O’Neill said the facility at the Catholic Church on the city’s Westland Row, which dates back to 1832, had already proved useful.

“On one sad occasion a relative could not get home for a funeral but was able to watch it online,” he said.

“Equally, it could also be used in the future by godparents or grandparents who cannot make it to a Christening service.”

Fr O’Neill was also very enthusiastic about the potential of the system.

“It is going to be extraordinarily important in allowing us to reach more people,” he said. “It is a sensible use of technology towards a good end and it is a natural progression on what we have already.”

Fr O’Neill said the Internet connection was the next step in the evolution of the parish radio system and a “loop” system which allowed the hard-of-hearing to listen to what was going on during services.

“This enables us to make contact with more people and surely that is what a Christian community should be about,” he said.

Not content with beaming live services across the world, however, Fr O’Neill said the parish had more plans in store.

The IT firm responsible for installing the Internet connection, Kilsheelan Technology International (KTI), have installed a radio-style transmitter in the belltower of the church.

Set-top boxes are to be supplied to allow those in the local area without Internet access, such as local nursing homes, to watch services on a specially tuned channel on their televisions.

“Older people or those too sick to attend who are not online could then still participate in services,” Fr O’Neill added.

The service is available on the web at www.westlandrow.dublindiocese.ie

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