Religion has played an important role in Visbek for over 1,200 years. The municipality in the Oldenburger Münsterland has been considered the "nucleus of Christianization" since the year 819. The church still plays a central role in the religious community life. In order to ensure that the elderly and movement-impaired parishioners do not miss their Sunday Mass, the Roman Catholic parish of St. Vitus is now broadcasting its service to the local assisted living and nursing home via video live-stream. Avaya is providing the required IT infrastructure.
Sundays, at ten thirty, in Visbek: Senior citizens at the St. Benedikt home wait in the lounge for the St. Vitus mass to begin. A 60-inch flat screen television displays their historic hall church, and they can see how the benches slowly fill and then hear the children’s choir begin to sing. The Parish's church services have been streamed to the neighboring assisted living and nursing home via a live video stream since the beginning of 2019.
Viewership is also growing: two thirds of residents now watch the live-stream regularly. "They are happy to be able to participate in the mass and thus in their community life," says Dr. Bernward Wefer, chairman of the St. Benedikt Home Association. Those who are not in the lounge at the time of the livestream, can alternatively follow the service from the TV in their own room also. "St. Vitus-TV airs on channel 60 every Sunday", says Dr. Wefer.
The idea to broadcast church services from the St. Vitus Church to neighboring nursing homes was conceived back in 2017. At the time, pastoral workers Christian Hoge and Bernward Wefer were looking for ways of integrating the elderly into the community. Participating in events like these contributes significantly to a higher quality of life in older age. All the more reason to enable residents and movement-impaired persons to participate as widely as possible. "Video streaming seemed to be the right tool for this," says Hoge. They were fortunate that the necessary expertise was already available in their community. Visbeker Christian Kuhling works as a sales engineer at Avaya, and knows video conferencing systems very well. He was able to quickly organize a test setup. "For the 2017 Christmas Mass, we installed a video camera in the crèche and broadcast the service one-to-one to the retirement and nursing home via livestream," says Hoge.