Televising the Parish Mass

This could almost be an “armchair liturgist” piece–asking what your parish does or what you would do were you in charge.

Over the years, I’ve served in a few parishes that regularly filmed the Sunday Mass. Sometimes, it’s been done pretty poorly. One pastor insisted the videographer stay in a glassed-in booth and get the sound directly from the sound board.

In my present parish, we had an ailing video camera. We used to hire a local guy to transfer it to digital for airing on the community access channel. Almost two years ago, a generous parishioner donated a nice digital camera and some editing software. Now we have a crew of people to film, and we’ve got a few people (though it’s usually me) doing editing and production.

It’s a good bit of work, but the question sits before us:

In the YouTube Century, do people still watch tv? The community access station recently shifted up the dial to about channel 86. The cable provider makes that part of “basic,” but you can’t get the Mass via the airwaves anymore. Our previous pastor (extremely supportive of the effort) laughed that the only people who told him they watched him on tv were Lutherans. I’m sure we have others who do, but how many in a city of 55,000? A hundred? Ten? Three Lutherans?

What do you think? Are the shut-ins helped by a televised Mass? Are they better served by a slick EWTN production?

This weekend, we taped First Communion at the Saturday Mass. I have 23 copies to burn: one for City Hall, and the others for parents.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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5 Responses to Televising the Parish Mass

  1. Liam says:

    I know my 87-year old parents faithfully watch Mass on TV when they are unable to attend Sunday Mass (usually do to weather or illness). They even pray the responses. If I were them, I might do likewise. They know it’s not the same as participating in person; that’s not the question for them.

    I think it would be nice if the cathedral parish (or minor basilica) of each diocese did this.

    • David D. says:

      I always thought so too. I believe the Diocese of Rockville Center still broadcasts daily mass from its cathedral.

  2. Our diocese (Albany, NY) has a weekly mass, Table of the Lord. It is televised on a local station, with the time purchased. The station also has a little studio set up and they do the technical work. It also airs on a local cable channel a little bit later on. We tape a few weeks in advance and tape two masses in one evening.

    I have had the opportunity, most recently one week ago, to participate in this with my parish. It is most interesting. Apparently there is evidence that it is watched – not by ratings but rather by feedback.

    As an aside, I was the primary catechist for my stepdaughter, who at age 11 expressed an interest in becoming Catholic. Due to my involvement at the parish, and some scheduling challenges that prevented her from attending Faith Formation classes at that time, we worked together at home. I used to DVR the Table of the Lord and used it as a catechetical tool. Since she had limited experience of the mass, even though she had been attending with me for a year and a half, I could stop and start the program and explain what was going on.

    This was invaluable and essential to her formation. She is now almost 15 and in confirmation preparation.

  3. Jason says:

    Fordham University webcasts it’s 11am mass every Sunday, viewable through their website.

    I think University of Notre Dame broadcasts its Sunday liturgy in syndication.

  4. Jimmy Mac says:

    And, of course, EWTN!

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