Developing a “virtual” Catholic community

One week into the COVID-19 restrictions and we are realising that what we thought was our strength can also be our weakness. Like most Catholic communities, Tighes Hill was centred on Sunday Eucharist.

The public health measures that banned the use of places of worship left us not only without our regular meeting with Christ it also left us cut off from each other.

Sunday Mass was our time to communicate with each other – via the bulletin, announcements after Mass and chatting with each other before or after Mass. We suddenly realised that we had no way to pass information to our community members and they had no way of communicating their needs during the COVID-19 restrictions.

We knew we had the contact details for our community members who are on our liturgical ministries roster. Fortunately, about a third of our 90 regular Mass participants are on the roster for one or more liturgical ministry.

We decided we needed to survey our community to hear about their support needs and to explore our options for spiritual and pastoral support. An online survey was developed using the free Wufoo software. This enabled us to email the survey’s web address to most people. Once the person had completed the survey it was then automatically sent as an email (in our case it was sent to the parishioner who developed the survey). There were eight people who didn’t have an email address so these people were phoned by another parishioner who gathered their information.

One week ago we were a community that only gathered for Mass. Now our “virtual” Catholic community comprises:

  • 18 people who speak to another community member in a weekly phone call;
  • 14 people who receive a weekly email containing the parish and other news/resources;
  • 8 people who meet for a weekly rosary via Zoom videoconferencing;
  • 7 people who meet for a weekly scripture and prayer group via Zoom videoconferencing;
  • 7 people who want to follow/contribute to a parish Facebook page (if we can find someone to establish the Facebook page); and
  • 5 people who have a paper copy of the weekly bulletin delivered to the home letterbox.

It is hoped that over the coming weeks and months we can connect more of our regular Catholic community, and some new people, with these and other spiritual and pastoral activities.

We are also fortunate that our clergy continue to celebrate a private Mass for us and that they are happy to receive phone calls from people in need.

For those interested a sample parish survey is below.

To receive an editable version, please email  

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Lawrie Hallinan Image
Lawrie Hallinan

Lawrie is a parishioner at Tighes Hill.