Parishioners at St Mary’s in Leek have continued to gather in daily prayer thanks to technology and having a ‘presence’ in Church – their photographs stuck on the pews!
When live streaming the Rosary, or Mass, parish priest Fr Martin Pratt can now see more than 70 of his parishioners instead of looking down into an empty church.
As lockdown took hold Fr Martin invited his parishioners to send in photographs of themselves, which have been placed on the benches of the 19th century Church.
“I admit I’ve borrowed the idea from a Parish Priest in northern Italy,” said Fr Martin.
“But the photos are a representative view of the parish: from new born babies, children and teenagers, couples and families to some of my oldest parishioners.
“It is important for people to know that they still have an important, valued place in the church despite the current restrictions.”
Fr Martin often reminds the parishioners in Leek that the most important day of their lives was the day of their baptism.
It is the most significant of days because it is when we became members of the Church, the Body of Christ. We didn’t become members of a society or a fan club, but on the day of baptism, we became members of the Mystical Body of Christ and we all have a role in the life of the Church.
“For the baptised Christian, life is a connected life,” said Fr Martin. “Christians around the world may be staying at home, but they still remain connected by their belief in Christ.
“When I was asked at the beginning of the lockdown if it was strange to celebrate Mass alone in the church I said ‘No! Not at all’.
“I’m not alone.  I’m surrounded by stained glass windows and statues of saints and characters from different times and places who have had a life in Christ.
“With the photographs of parishioners and the live stream, I am joined by today’s saints.”
Fr Martin added he has great confidence in all his parishioners.
And he encourages all to use their skills and talents to share the vision of being a missionary parish - where faith is lived and charity seen - so the Good News of Jesus can reach people’s lives.