HALIFAX -- Church services across the Maritimes have been suspended at a time when many are seeking comfort and guidance. While parishioners are not able to attend mass in person, technology is enabling them to keep the faith.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Benedict Parish in Halifax was already broadcasting a live video stream. Now, viewing online is the only way for parishioners to “attend” mass.

Parish priest Father Simon Lobo says he's been overwhelmed by the response to the live video stream.

“People are hungering for an experience of church,” says Lobo.

Thousands watched the service last Sunday and again on Monday, with people tuning in from around the world.

“Suddenly, because they are no longer able to come in, our viewership has grown by about tenfold at least,” says Lobo.

He says, in a time of global crisis, churches need to be able to provide support and guidance.

“For clear practical steps to take in this crisis,” says Lobo.

Sue Lerue and her husband Jerry were heartbroken when they learned they could no longer go to church. She says the live video stream is a blessing.

“If we can't be together physically, we know we can be together praying in this way,” says Lerue.

The Lerues say watching online has been a source of comfort during this time at home in isolation.

“I think people need something to help them through this,” says Jerry Lerue.

The online version of St. Benedict's Sunday mass includes a Facebook live question-and-answer session with parishioners.

“It's this human connection point with all these people,” says Lobo.

He says services will feature new themes each week and he is happy to be able to provide mass online until parishioners are once again able to worship in person.