With church doors closed to the public, congregations in the island have been going through a strange time.

They have had to make adaptations while their buildings remain closed due to Covid-19.

Parish priest and area dean of the Roman Catholic Church Monsignor John Devine said that although doors are closed, the services are being held online.

He said: ’People are following us from all around the world. Vast numbers of people from the United States listen to our 12.10pm services, which is early morning for them and we have people in Australia listening in their evening.

’We have people often asking for prayers for the sick, those who have coronavirus and prayers for those who have died. We share good news stories, including wedding anniversaries and birthdays.’

At Easter they had four-figure numbers joining in online.

The St Mary of the Isle church in Douglas has live streaming equipment on the website manxcatholic.org

The camera is running 24 hours every day so anyone get a view of the church, which is intended to help them with private prayer.

When asked what it was like to preach to an audience behind screens, he said: ’You would think it would be like talking to a wall, but it takes as much energy off me spiritually and physically as a service in front of people would.

’It is strange, but I know I’m not just talking to myself.’


One complication facing the church is that most priests in the island and congregation members are over 70, so they are in the ’at risk’ category.

He said that, as the church had hundreds of people attending services, it would make it difficult for social distancing when things ease back to the new normal.

’How would you steward that with volunteers being over 70? The church would have to be cleaned and sanitised each time,’ he said.

Revd Richard Hall of the Methodist Church said that the pandemic has brought out a lot of creativity in its leadership, who have worked hard to provide alternatives to the usual Sunday services.

The church now has its own YouTube channel with daily resources for prayer and meditation to keep people connected.

’We discovered among our ministers a great deal of creativity which we knew, but the pandemic has given them time to explore it,’ he said.

’As well as the Sunday service, the church holds an additional 30-minute service on live online platform Zoom.

’It can sometimes be a bit chaotic, but it’s really good with people staying on for another 30 minutes to chat. It’s making a real connection for people. With Zoom you don’t have to have a computer, you can phone in on a landline.

’A lot of good stuff has happened, but it will never replace the face to face contact. Something that will come back in time.’

Revd Hall added: ’There are lessons we need to learn for when this is over that we don’t get back to the same old same old.

’I think we’re all aware that the future is not going to look the same and, let’s be honest, some of that will be good.’

The church found Easter a very strange time, he said.

’It was probably the first time in a lifetime people weren’t able to share communion together.’

They remain in constant conversation with Bishop Peter Eagles, who is looking into phases to open these doors once again to people.


’We cannot open them suddenly. Physical distancing is going to be with us until a vaccine is found,’ the Church of England Bishop said.

Certain things they are considering include old church buildings with small doors and narrow entrances. He said until they are happy and confident that this can be well controlled then reopening can be done.

He said: ’It’s been very tough as no-one would want to close churches and burial grounds, which were shut for a short period of time, but I think the reasons for that are understood.

’Some things have been difficult, but other things have brought evidence of reaching large groups of people.

’Our task now is to work through it and support people as much as possible. We just look forward to be doing things as normally as possible, but that’s not something that can be rushed.’