“Good morning, all!” “G’morning!” “Good morning everyone!” “Good morning, Holy Redeemer.” The joyous greetings may seem like they come from a parish hall during an after-Mass coffee hour, but in reality they appeared before and during a livestreamed Mass from North Portland’s Holy Redeemer Parish.

Since public Masses were canceled this spring, Catholic communities who ordinarily worship together each Sunday largely have been forced to worship apart. As Masses have been instead streamed on websites like Facebook, the communities have taken to those platforms to engage friends both old and new.

Holy Redeemer is not alone in the phenomenon. Similar comments appear in Mass livestreams across the archdiocese.

“Miss being there with everyone,” wrote Dolores Winther at a Mass from St. Mary Parish in Eugene.

“Good morning from the Higgins family,” wrote fellow St. Mary Mass viewer Jethro Higgins.

“Miss church,” wrote Sonya Ann Sengphong during a Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Salem.

Not everyone supports the commenting during liturgy.

“The idea of livestream is that people in some way join the celebrating priests and community in prayer, to the best of their ability given the circumstances,” said Msgr. Gerard O’Connor, director of the Divine Worship Office for the Archdiocese of Portland. So, he adds, he thinks it’s inappropriate to be typing comments during such a Mass.

“The person or family should be intentional about their limited participation in this time of prayer.”

St. Edward Parish in Keizer doesn’t get too many comments during Masses, said Father Gary Zerr, pastor at the church.

“What we get most of the time are people who just say, ‘I’m here,’ and things like that,” Father Zerr said, noting that those who make such comments are regulars who cannot make it to Mass. The comments are a daily greeting to their parish family.

“They’re encouraging others who are watching,” said Father Zerr. “It’s really quite a nice act of charity on their part I think.”

Father Patrick Donoghue, pastor at St. Anthony of Padua in Southeast Portland, has received feedback in support of and against Facebooks comments during Mass.

“There are those who like to make and read them and there are those who find them a distraction,” said Father Donoghue. “Perhaps each in their own way is expressing a frustration with not attending Mass in person — a frustration with the new normal.”

While some may question the comments being typed during Mass, it is clear the medium has been used, perhaps unintentionally, for parishioners to reach each other and to share jokes, resources and encouragement.

“I feel like commenting during Mass is the modern day equivalent of whispering to my sister at Mass,” wrote Lori DeDobbelaere during a Mass at Holy Redeemer. “I can almost feel my mom tugging on my hair and telling me to pay attention! Happy Sunday to all!”

For most of the faithful, a Sunday without attending Mass in person brings an emptiness.

When asked what prompted her to comment at Mass, DeDobbelaere said: “I think I was motivated to try to make people smile and to bring a little bit of lightheartedness to the situation.”

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org