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Thousands of Catholics watch Norfolk Easter Masses

Thousands of Catholics have watched live-streamed Masses from half-a-dozen Diocese of East Anglia churches in Norfolk over Easter, after churches were closed to physical congregations due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Some online congregations for individual Masses were up to two or three times larger than congregations would normally have been, while most broadcasts at least matched usual numbers. There were however a lot less Masses celebrated publicly overall than usual across the diocese.

Bishop Alan Hopes said: “It has been an extraordinary time and to know that so many people have been watching and have received reassurance and hope in this difficult time is a source of great blessing for those of us who have celebrated the Easter Mysteries in such straightened circumstances.”

At the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich (pictured above), over 15,000 views were recorded over the five main Masses and vigils from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, representing a 300% increase. However, only two Easter Sunday Masses were celebrated online rather than the usual five.

Music director, Daniel Justin, who masterminded the coverage on YouTube, said: “We’ve been really pleased with the evangelistic nature of our streaming, allowing many more people to take part in the liturgies in the Cathedral. We have had messages from a lot of parishioners who have been too infirm to come to the Cathedral in recent years, who have found being able to attend Mass virtually a source of great comfort. We will be looking into regular streaming once the cautions are lifted, as this is clearly something which is of benefit to many.”

The Catholic National Shrine at Walsingham has been live streaming for several years and during Holy Week its three different constant live-streams received 225,000 visitors from 124 countries around the world.

St Mary’s in Great Yarmouth recorded 1,400 views, around the same as the expected physical congregation and St George’s in Norwich, has been receiving up to 100 listeners to its daily Evening Prayer podcast.

Live-streamed Masses were also available from Our Lady of Pity in Swaffham and Our Lady and St Joseph in Sheringham.

Click here to see a guide to live-streamed Masses available across the Diocese of East Anglia.


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