Vol. 45     No. 19     August 2, 2006
Parish phone service helps to keep homebound connected spiritually

By Mary Gorry
Staff Reporter

Valley Stream ó At Holy Name of Mary Church here, parishioners do not have to worry about missing Sunday Mass or a special occasion such as a relativeís wedding because they are ill or homebound. This is thanks to a telephone connection service the parish provides that allows a person to listen to these events from their own home.

“Itís a system that we have set up in the church, hooked into our sound system,” noted Sister of St. Joseph Margie Kelly, parish outreach director at Holy Name of Mary. “Our sound system is connected by phone to a hub that allows 20 people to call in and listen. When people decide they want to be part of it, we provide them with an amplifier.” The amplifier, she explained, is about the size of an answering machine; the caller can connect to the service and listen hands-free, like a speakerphone.

The parish has provided the telephone hook-up service since 1999. The staff heard about its use in other parishes, investigated, and decided it was right for the parish. About 30 parishioners are currently signed up for the service. The cost to the parishioner is the cost of a phone call. The parish pays about $300 a month for the telephone lines used by the service.

“We have volunteers who turn on the (phone connection) in the church,” she noted. “We train as many people as are willing to be trained,” including ushers and sacristans. Two Masses a day are always connected to the system, and the volunteers make sure the system is turned on for other Masses or events parishioners have signed up for.

“Many people (who are homebound) would prefer to watch Mass on television,” said Sister Margie, a service provided by Telecare, the diocesan television service. (See page 9 for schedule.) “But the real advantage to the phone system is itís (connected to) their own parish.” Parishioners can listen to homilies preached by their own parish priests, and also to parish missions, concerts, and other special occasions.

“Itís been a wonderful, wonderful service,” said Sister Margie. “We had one fellow who was in the hospital when his father died,” and he was able to listen to the funeral from the hospital.

The telephone hook-up system is “just a great way to stay connected,” she said. “We feel like people in their homes are part of the parish.”

Reprinted with permission of the L.I. Catholic

This service was no longer available after 2010.

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