Parish Appreciation Series: St. Mary

From Fr. Frank Reitter

“Just before this began, I bought a light setup with a green screen and cheap versions of studio lights. That, with a $99 computer program, lets you put your video on one track and automatically puts the pictures behind you. My goal was to try to keep whatever normalcy we can for Lent: Stations of the Cross, Soup Supper, those sorts of things.

We just started classes yesterday, so I popped in on one of the classes, to pray with them. We’re working out a schedule since we can’t have Tuesday Mass. I’m trying to call parishioners every day, just touching base with them.

Wednesdays, we usually get together with the Lutherans and the Episcopal community and we have a soup supper. So on Wednesdays, I have a bowl of soup and a lot less formal prayer. I just sit there and eat soup, talk to folks, and say, we miss doing this, so pull up a bowl of soup and let’s have a little reflection.

The other thing I’m doing is the Stations of the Cross. I’m using video files and powerpoint. Last week we did Aboriginal Stations. This week, we’re doing family-centered Stations. I’m trying to come up with a Good Friday set of stations to pray through a pandemic. Using pictures and Pope’s Stations.

The hard thing is that we don’t have good contact information for a lot of our people. I’ve got a pretty good file of pictures from events, though, so we’re able to use those. We did a family blessing, where we cast the family photos on the green screen behind me, and that was something important. Since I’ve started, I’ve also been using pictures of other Catholic communities across the Archdiocese. I got the idea from a priest in the Philippines, I used to be in Youth Ministry, and we all share resources.

We’re having some success. People seem appreciative. I got an interesting comment, talking to someone in the parking lot- we’re shouting at each other across the way- and she said, “I really like your stuff online, I like it better than the live stuff.” So we’re getting a lot of “likes” from the larger community. I don’t know if anybody’s watching it, but they’re seeing that we’re proactive and reaching out to provide for people’s spiritual needs. We’re evangelizers.

My brother and sister saw my video, my first one, and sent me a new GoPro camera so I could do a better job. The first one was an old GoPro but I’ll give it a shot. This one does a better job. With this one, I can start and stop it with my voice, and I always forget to edit out, I always say “Stop GoPro,” but that’s the wrong one, so then I say, “”GoPro, stop,” and then it will go off. And I always forget to edit that part out, and everybody laughs at me.

They interviewed me on the radio the other day, and I was talking to the announcer, who asked, “What’s it like to be Catholic?” We had to close the church early because people touch the statues. We are a tactile religion. It’s physical communion. It’s holding hands during the Our Father. We are the Body of Christ, not the Spirit of Christ. It’s anointing, it’s laying hands on someone’s head, you know, and so for us, it’s making me aware of how tactile and physical we are. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

To learn more about St. Mary Parish, visit:


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Fr. Frank Reitter’s page for livestream Mass (must be logged in to view):

To learn more about St. Mary School, visit:


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About the Parish Appreciation Series:

We asked several parishes 3 simple questions:

  • What challenges are you facing right now?
  • How are you addressing these challenges at your parish?
  • How has your parish community been blessed, despite these difficult times?

The responses have been nothing short of overwhelming: we received over 6,000 words from over 15 parishes, full of hope and courage to face the unknown in service to God’s people. Through this series of posts, each parish shares their story as we’ve received them, with minimal editing, to allow the voice of each person to speak, in all their humanness.

We pray that they inspire you to hope, just as they have inspired us. Stay safe out there, guys.

How to Get Connected:

Here are a few ways to stay in the loop with the latest news & updates:

  • Follow along online. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for other news and updates, or email Anna Schulten to be added to a special email list:
  • Connect to your parish. Make sure you know how your parish communicates: via website, bulletin, MyParish app, phone tree, or other means. If you’re not sure, ask!
  • Offer to help. Contact your parish to learn about volunteer opportunities.
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