|A livestream operator at her station|
For all these people, the Diocesan livestream Masses are a wonderful opportunity to gather virtually with others in spirit and community. Since the start of the pandemic last March, Bishop Gary has been broadcasting a livestream Mass six days a week. Most livestreams are broadcast from St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Victoria, though the Bishop has also livestreamed from his phone while on holidays in Tahsis. A few hundred people usually tune in for the weeknight Masses, with up to a thousand or more participating on Sundays and special feast days. Still more people watch recordings of the Masses after their initial broadcast.
|Merlin in the crypt|
When streaming from the Cathedral, the two cameras installed in the church are operated remotely. The volunteers who run the livestream work from a station set up in the crypt, a small room in the basement of the Cathedral where Bishop Modeste Demers, Archbishop Charles J. Seghers, and the Right Reverend John J. Jonckau are entombed. In addition to this august company, the volunteers are also often joined by Bishop Gary’s dog, Merlin.
Andrea Gregg is one of the livestream operators. She started helping out after seeing an article in her church bulletin asking for volunteers. “I’m always looking for ways to volunteer, but as an introvert, I don’t really want to do greeting at the door,” she says. “Volunteering has made me feel very connected to the Church. During Covid, it’s been a nice way to be involved still and give back. I’m happy to know that someone’s watching it and they’re benefitting from it, because it’s really sad when you don’t have that opportunity to connect with God. And the dogs are awesome!”
Most livestreams run smoothly, but things do sometimes get exciting. Andrea remembers one night in November 2020 when the fire alarms in the rectory next door to the Cathedral started going off just before Mass started. “One of the priests was making some food, and the alarms were too sensitive. We closed the doors to the rectory and you couldn’t really hear it in the church. But then the firefighters showed up to the Cathedral doors. The Bishop saw them and said “Come on in!”, so they did and he starts talking to them – this is all live!” Things eventually got sorted out and the Mass went on, but it’s a night she won’t soon forget.
Having started livestream Masses as a response to the pandemic, Bishop Gary now figures he’ll keep doing them even after churches fully reopen. He says it’s been an unintended benefit that people throughout the Island now feel more connected to the larger church. “Covid has not been a good thing”, he says. “But there have been some good learnings come out of it.” If you’d like to participate in the Diocesan livestream Masses, both the live broadcasts and recordings are available on the Diocese of Victoria YouTube channel.