Parishioners at St Joseph’s in Thame, Oxfordshire, are tuning in to video chat after Mass thanks to the power of technology.

Every weekday, and after the weekend Masses, there’s an opportunity to join a short social catch-up session.

Since lockdown began parish priest Fr David Hartley and parishioners are doing all they can to ensure ‘ongoing parish life’.

An existing Facebook page, set up nearly four years ago, is now being used to live stream Masses, and share prayers and information.

But the parish has taken things a step further by using Zoom, an online platform which offers video, phone and chat services, for daily interaction.

This means parishioners can see and speak to each other as often as they like whilst enjoying a cuppa!

At a recent session several parishioners, and Fr David, got together to chat.
Suzanne said: “So far it seems quite successful. If we don’t keep getting together we will isolate ourselves. As a Church we need to be moving forward.”

Parishioner Jonathon drops in for coffee time when he can. “We’re now using Zoom for our parish men’s group. It’s the right environment and we’re looking at running a quiz too.

“It’s a great place to catch up with friends, see familiar faces.”

And Jeni explained what else the parish is doing to keep in touch.

“We say the Rosary at 12noon on a WhatsApp group, and I’m working with the children’s liturgy teams to look at ways of keeping the faith going.

“There’s also a great idea circulating that we could look at - you send a photo of your family to Father, who prints it off and sticks it to the pew!”

And Fr David is delighted with how well his parishioners are embracing the current ‘normal’.

“Our daily online chats are the result of the lockdown,” said Fr David. “We needed to find ways of keeping in touch, keep parish life going.

“It’s all about trying different things.”

Fr David added the parish Facebook page was also proving a great interactive platform, with people exchanging prayers and information, as well as sharing emojis at the ‘sign of peace’ part of Mass.

Picture caption: Parishioners and Fr David enjoy a catch up.