Churches move to virtual mass, phone call outreach amid COVID-19 pandemic

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DENVER (KDVR)— With Coloradans forced to stay home, worship services across the state are going online.

The Archdiocese of Denver is home to 149 churches and parishes. Parishioners are now enjoying mass online as churches are forced to move into the digital universe.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Longmont is able to hold 700 people for each mass, but the pews remain empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It really changed the way that our church works and looks,” said Rev. Daniel Ciucci.

Father Ciucci has been busy with virtual mass— celebrating with a computer on the altar. And he’s not alone.

“Dozens of [churches] are starting to offer online masses,” said Mark Haas, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Denver. “Some daily— some doing a couple times a day with different prayer services.”

But the church realizes more direct outreach is needed to ensure the emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of parishioners.

“They’re used to coming into our doors, and now we’re kind of flipping that and going out into their telephone lines,” Ciucci said.

More than 40 volunteers at St. John the Baptist have been busy making calls to all of the parish’s 2,900 families.

Ciucci says his team is asking parishioners how they’re doing, if they need anything and if they can pray together.

The Knights of Columbus has been making grocery store runs for those who cannot leave their homes.

“It is certainly a challenging time for parishes, but we’ve really seen a great effort to still continue to play a role in their communities’ lives,” Haas said.

Ciucci says his church may establish outside drive-up confessionals in Longmont to achieve greater social distancing.

Pope Francis will offer a virtual worldwide blessing on Friday at 11 a.m. Mountain Time.

It’s a time for the world to join the pope in prayer that we quickly overcome this pandemic. The main video source for the blessing is the Vatican Website and Facebook page.

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