First online parish launches in Brisbane – The Catholic Leader

THOUSANDS of Brisbane Catholics are practicing their faith through a digital lens post-lockdown for all sorts of reasons and Brisbane archdiocese has responded by creating the first “online parish” to encourage their ongoing faith.

First online parish launches in Brisbane – The Catholic Leader

Internet pastor: Brisbane’s first online parish priest is Fr Peter Brannelly.

THOUSANDS of Brisbane Catholics are practicing their faith through a digital lens post-lockdown for all sorts of reasons and Brisbane archdiocese has responded by creating the first “online parish” to encourage their ongoing faith.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the innovation was sparked by the continued interest in online Masses even though Covid restrictions have eased, which enabled churches to welcome back parishioners. 

“We’ve always thought of a Catholic parish as something that has a geographic base around a church and perhaps a school but the last two years have made us think about life differently,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“Covid-19 has changed many elements of our lives and we know that some of our parishioners began to watch Masses by livestream early last year and that’s continued.

“They are still watching and may not be able to make it to a physical parish so we decided that we would come to them by forming a dedicated online parish community with a priest who will engage with them regularly.”

While many Catholic dioceses and parishes provided a livestream of Masses, Brisbane archdiocese wanted to go a step further and created an online parish that could be a central meeting point in the same way a physical parish brings together its community. 

Archbishop Coleridge said it was important for online parishioners to see a regular face and be able to engage with a priest in something like the way they would if they were attending a physical parish.

Brisbane’s first online parish priest is Fr Peter Brannelly, who will be a regular face on the archdiocese’s social media platforms engaging viewers across southeast Queensland and beyond.

Fr Brannelly added the online ministry to his role as parish priest of Caloundra.

“I was delighted to assist in this role because we know how online interaction has grown during the pandemic,” Fr Brannelly said.

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“We have been able to connect with Catholics in ways that we hadn’t thought of before Covid came into our lives. 

“The online parish community enables people to feel as though they have a regular connection in their faith as they would if they were coming to a parish.

“We expect we will engage with people who are still going to their physical parish but who may not be able to make it every weekend.”

Each week, Fr Brannelly would introduce the livestream of a Sunday Mass for parishioners, invite prayer intentions, delve into the lives of saints on their feast days and feature in other engagement opportunities with parishioners.

The online parish begins this Sunday when the new liturgical year starts with the Advent season leading into Christmas celebrations.

The archdiocese was not aware of any other formal online parish community in other parts of the world. 

Online traffic to the Archdiocese’s digital platforms has surged since the pandemic began. Since the start of 2020, there have been more than 760,000 views of videos on the Archdiocese YouTube channel.

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