Faith In Isolation

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales

The Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham

Catholic Voices UK

Divine Renovation UK

225k
Video Views
40+
Collaborators

Providing spiritual nourishment to those isolated from their faith practices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case Study

Introduction

A creative response to the new needs presented by the closure of churches in England & Wales and across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A film series and a strong social media presence delivering daily videos in the run up to Easter, structured around the sacred liturgy of the Holy Mass and uniting Catholics online in a season of separation.

As we entered March, it was becoming clear to our team that the UK was going to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and that the way we lived was going to change. We had good reason to suspect that churches were going to be closed within that month and we put ourselves to work thinking about how we could help to meet the new spiritual need that this was going to create. No client asked us to take this work on, we simply wanted to offer people spiritual accompaniment at a time of crisis.

Objectives

In those pre-lockdown days, it was unclear how the Catholic faithful would continue to connect with the church. We began to consider a new, daily video series, leading people through the daily mass readings all the way up to Easter. If we began on Thursday March 19th, this would mean 29 films, an ambitious goal but one we felt it was important to meet.

We structured these films around the liturgy, the mass readings of that day with preaching from a priest we knew to be a dynamic preacher, culminating in an act of spiritual communion.

Strategy

We quickly reached out to the best preachers we knew, explaining the project to them and asking for their support in offering some homilies to us. Many of them took up the call and we set dates to film. Our camera team bounced between some of London’s most beautiful churches to secure these first homilies, from the Brompton Oratory, to the Rosary Shrine to St Elizabeth of Portugal, Richmond - all of this was carried out before the lockdown was in place and all filming was carried out with social distancing in place.

We also felt passionately that lay people should be involved in the videos so, as a team, we reached out to Catholic friends to ask them record the readings for us. The editing of all this together became the video series.

Holy Week in Lockdown

As the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic developed, we had to adapt our strategy for the 'Faith In Isolation' project. On March 16th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a ban of all non-essential travel, ending our ability to film our preachers ourselves. We did have six of these homilies on film already, but thankfully our preachers were all too ready to step up to filming themselves for the rest of the series.

On March 19th we launched with full social channels and an announcement video the day before the Catholic Church in England and Wales suspended public Masses on March 20th. The UK was put into a full lockdown just three days after that, in an unprecedented step to attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus.

For Holy Week, we were keen to bring to the faithful the beauty of our churches and the beauty of our music at this most sacred of Christian celebrations. To this end, the Oratorians of The Oratory of S Philip Neri in London (Brompton Oratory) agreed to film The Stations of the Cross for 'Faith in Isolation' to be posted on Good Friday. We also received some beautiful choral music from Stephen Bick (choir director at St. Elizabeth of Portugal parish) Richmond, singing on multiple of our Holy Week videos, bringing the liturgy to life even more.

The Results

Thanks to our many enthusiastic contributors on this project and our around the clock editing team, we were able to post all 29 of these daily videos, engaging our audience everyday on social media and seeing huge levels of engagement. Overall we received 225k+ video views over this period and had hugely positive responses from commenters who had been grateful for the spiritual accompaniment this resource gave them at such a difficult time. As the weeks went on and many parishes mastered how to livestream their masses, a new norm emerged and thankfully the need for spiritual accompaniment could now be met by local pastors too.