NICHOLS HILLS — A local church has become the first Catholic parish in Oklahoma to live stream its services online.
The new digital project has brought the sacred Mass at Christ the King, 8005 Dorset Drive, outside the four walls of the Catholic church and into the lives of countless people, said the Rev. Rick Stansberry, Christ the King’s pastor.
Stansberry said the live streaming of the church’s weekly Masses was an idea that came from a conversation he had with a non-Catholic friend who said he had watched live streaming church services while he was ill and found it meaningful.
Stansberry noted that, through “The Pope” app, papal events at the Vatican have been live streamed from time to time. Some Catholic churches in the United States live stream services, but Stansberry said Catholic Mass simply hasn’t been offered online in Oklahoma.
There’s a reason for that, he said.
A central focus of Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, Stansberry said.
The priest said there is a widely held belief and concern that making Mass available online would keep parishioners from attending the service and partaking in Holy Eucharist.
“For the Mass, you come to receive the Eucharist, and you can’t get that if you don’t come,” he said.
Understanding those concerns, Stansberry took the project idea to members of Christ the King’s parish council.
“Their fear was that people would use that as an excuse to not come to church,” he said.
Stansberry told the council the potential benefits of the online availability far outweighed the concerns and expense.
The priest said he envisioned the live streaming capabilities as an important part of the church’s community outreach. He said making Mass available online could be a vital evangelistic effort, helping to share the Gospel and educate people about Catholicism.
Also, he said offering the Mass online could also be beneficial to homebound parishioners.
Eventually, the council agreed.
Making it happen
Three cameras were installed in the church sanctuary, and the Mass on Palm Sunday was the first to be live streamed.
Now, the weekly Mass is live streamed and archived, available on the church’s website at www.ckokc.org.
Stansberry said response to the new project came immediately after Holy Week. He said a vacationing parishioner expressed gratitude for being allowed to tap into his home parish while elsewhere. Plus, the priest said three non-Catholics reached out to him and told them how much they enjoyed the services.
“They said they found the Mass meaningful, and they wanted to visit and wanted to know how to become Catholic,” he said.
The priest said he also received a call from a family visiting the metro area. He said family members indicated they had not found a church to visit while in town but were delighted to discover Christ the King’s live streamed service.
“It certainly can be used as a tool to draw people the Church,” Stansberry said.
He said the church is not using service to “poach” parishioners from other Catholic churches.
Not just for Mass
Meanwhile, John Cory is a Christ the King member who is chief operating officer of Cory’s Audio Visual Service, the company which installed equipment for the project.
He said the live streaming capabilities have been utilized for several other events as well as the church’s weekly Mass services.
Cory said the church live streamed a wedding, and Stansberry said the groom’s relatives living in another country were able to view the nuptials. They said the funeral of Tom Carter, a beloved Mount St. Mary High School teacher and husband of Christ the King School Principal Karen Carter, also was live streamed because of widespread interest and the fact that the church was not large enough to hold all of the mourners.
Stansberry said the upcoming ordination of several Archdiocese of Oklahoma City seminarians will be live streamed from the church’s website as well. He said the first Mass celebrated by Christopher Brashears, who will become Christ the King’s associate pastor after his ordination to the priesthood, also will be live streamed.
Cory and Stansberry anticipate offering live streaming services using a closed-circuit feed to other areas of the church and school complex. They said this will help with overflow crowds for some highly attended services and presentations.
And Cory said the new technology has helped the church connect in other ways.
He said students taking a Web streaming class at Bishop McGuinness High School are able to accumulate service learning hours by helping with the live stream ministry, learning while they work.