“It was very strange,” [San Jose’s Bishop] Cantu said in May 1 interview with Catholic News Service. “I normally don’t get nervous for Masses, but I was really nervous. I sort of feed off the energy of the people present and so it just feels so different just to preach, to speak to a camera. I almost always preach without a script because I kind of engage people and their facial expressions. I get energy from the reactions of people as I’m doing that. When that’s not there, it’s a whole different reality to preach to a camera.”
And moving the daily operations of the diocese online, proved to be another challenge.
“It was kind of funny, our first Zoom meeting we had with the priests, it was a mess,” he said. “Just trying to get the guys to mute.”
And though the diocese is in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, most of the parishes had not livestreamed before because there never had been a need. But pastors and staff have quickly adapted and now some are even talking about using multiple cameras. Those watching online have also helped in giving suggestions, even guiding those operating the camera to move it in certain ways so they can see the lyrics televised on the screens inside the churches, since they know the layout of the places where they attended Mass.
“Now you walk into these churches, like the cathedral, and there are these cameras or iPhones all over the place,” said Cantu. “There are wires that people have strewn all over the floor. As we think about reopening, we’re going to want to continue to livestream, especially for the elderly. We’re going to have to think about a whole different setup, in order that the equipment is not in the way of people physically present there.”
Though the congregation has been in touch, expressing appreciation for adoration, for special prayer services and the ongoing Masses that are livestreamed, there are tough moments, not having people physically there, Cantu said.
“On Good Friday, there was a sort of emptiness we felt,” he said.
He remembered the processions, the crowds.
“It’s so powerful to witness their devotion, in the adoration of the cross, and not to have them there is a kind of empty feeling about it,” he said.
While celebrating one of the liturgies that week one of the priests at the cathedral who is newly ordained told him: “This is my first Holy Week (as a priest).”
“I felt badly for him. I can’t imagine,” he said. “Without people, it felt very strange.”
But knowing the congregation is still out there and receiving communication from them through social networks, notes or messages, as well as having constant communication with staff, “I’ve felt very supported,” Cantu said. “I’m not in this by myself.”
The above comes from a May 10 story in Crux.