Weekly service was held at the St. Josaphat in Kamsack by Father Warren Dungen until Easter but with COVID restrictions, the community was not able to attend. It was after Easter that Dungen decided to start broadcasting live to Facebook.
“I approached the parish and asked them if they would OK the installation of Wi-Fi in our hall,” says Dungen.
With the help of his brother from Calgary, together they dug a trench from the hall to the church and wired a hard line with a router being set up in the church. Today, Dungen is using his cell phone to do live broadcasts of the weekly Sunday service as well as funeral services. He is serving a community as broad as Kamsack, Norquay, Kerokee, Wadena, Benito and Swan River with the Kamsack/Norquay Ukrainian Catholic District and is pleased with the response he has seen from viewers on his Facebook page.
“The quality of the high definition is there, we have the capability but Facebook only publishes at 720 so it may not look as sharp with the lighting.”
“A lot of people jumped on when we started broadcasting using Facebook,” says Dungen. “It was about 45 people tuning in when the service would start but by the time it ended it was 120 who viewed it and by the end of the day it was 300 then 3 or 4 days later, 740 people!”
Dungen says that he is glad that he is able to provide an online service for the elderly whose health may be compromised if exposed to COVID.
“My initial concerns were fear of everybody seeing my humanity. To see me fumble or make a mistake because it’s out in the world and it’s there forever. Even my preaching. It’s one thing for my community who loves and accepts me for who I am and who I am not. It’s another thing for the rest of the world to see me with all of my flaws. I was very self-conscious. I think some of the people who sing for us, they were a little nervous about being on-camera and being recorded as well. We are just country folk who give what we got. We were nervous about that.”
The church has grown in confidence and Dungen sees that people are checking in and he hopes they are finding a piece of home and comfort during COVID.
“It makes my heart happy that people are choosing to connect with our prayer and still finding a way to pray. We have in some cases people who have not been coming to church for many years but due to the accessibility, people are checking in for the first time in a long time. They have become faithful attenders through the online service.”
“The potential has been helpful to reach people who are hurting or are in need to be pastorally present to them,” says Dungen.
He hopes that the church decides to continue the online service as a good thing.
‘We need to move with the times and this is something that I would like to see,” says Dungen.
He would like to encourage anyone to stop by the Facebook page @kamsacknorquaydistrictand that “you will be able to see the service even if you don’t have a facebook account because all services have been made available for anyone in the public to view.”