GILBERTVILLE, Iowa (KWWL) – COVID-19 forced the suspension of all church services in northeast Iowa. Immaculate Conception is using the power of social media to reach their congregation.

The present sight of the church are empty pews normally filled on a Sunday. Father Henry Huber used to receive anywhere from 100 to 200 people during the daily mass.

Father Huber’s Mass is still practiced through the use of Facebook Live. The help of Don Bosco High School’s WiFi and his own Facebook account allows live broadcasts of daily Mass.

“Even if it’s not the setting they are used to, it’s their priest and there’s going to be some very familiar things here. It becomes a cornerstone and anchor in a time of turmoil,” Father Huber said.

A week ago was Father Huber’s last in-person Mass. The Facebook Lives were just started up this week, and a couple thousand people watch everyday.

“There’s always the jokes, “Oh I get to do Mass on the deck or my pajamas.” For most people, the overwhelming response is thank God we have this,” Father Huber said.

Julie Frost, a Sacristan at the church is a lifetime member. Frost is affected personally by the coronavirus. One of Frost’s family members underwent testing for the virus, and the results came back negative. The invitation to help with Sunday’s online Mass is just what she needed.

“It’s a huge part of my life, and to not have it for the time being is a big thing to be missing out on in my life,” Frost said.

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