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Good Lord: Brisbane's Catholics first to have church that's only there in spirit

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Brisbane’s Catholic Church is launching a world-first online parish for those who can’t make it to a physical church but still want to worship and practise their faith in the digital space.

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And the Archdiocese of Brisbane believes it is a world first. The online parish will begin on Sunday, when the new liturgical year starts with the Advent season.

The idea for an online parish, with its own dedicated priest, came in response to a demand for continued digital worship which had begun during the pandemic when church services were not allowed.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the past two years of COVID-19 had changed many people’s lives and people had begun watching Mass by livestream and now wanted that to continue.

“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,” the Archbishop said.

“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,” he said.

Father Peter Brannelly, the parish priest in Caloundra, has been appointed as the first online parish priest of Brisbane.

“This way, our online parish community members will see a regular face and be able to engage with that priest in something like the way they would if they were attending a physical parish,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

The church says that each week, Father Brannelly will be on the Archdiocese’s social media platforms introducing the livestream of a Sunday Mass. At other times he will invite prayer intentions, describe the lives of Saints on feast days and engage with parishioners.

Father Brannelly said he was delighted to take on the role.

“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 there coming to a parish,” he said.

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