TV Mass allows shut-ins a chance to participate

  • May 4, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - For the past 21 years people from all walks of life in the Greater Toronto Area have enjoyed Sunday morning Mass from the comfort of their own home.
From the guy in a prison cell to a hospital patient, Msgr. Bard Massman, founder and director of the Sunday televised Mass, said it’s a Mass for a television community.    

“They are not watching Mass, people participate in the Mass, they speak back to the TV,” said Massman, rector of St. Paul’s Basilica.

A few times a year Massman and his production assistant Margaret Knott organize a week-long taping blitz. They invite a number of priests and a diverse array of musical talent from the archdiocese to the CTV studios in Scarborough to pre-tape a few half-hour Masses that are broadcast Sunday mornings for those who can’t make it out to their local parish.

Fr. Michael Corcione, OFM, of St. Peter’s parish in Woodbridge, Ont., has celebrated Mass on air for three years.

“It’s different because there’s a studio. Although it looks like there’s a congregation and a big choir, its just a TV studio,” he said. “Timing has to be precise. They can’t edit out part of the Mass.”  

The late Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter, then archbishop of Toronto, commissioned Massman, director of archdiocesan communications at the time, to create a locally televised Mass.

“We didn’t know it would be as successful as it’s been,” said Massman.  

Massman has received viewer feedback from many who appreciate the effort, from a group of 20 seniors who gather around a TV set in their nursing home to appreciative husbands and wives who take consecrated communion home and watch the Mass with their partner who has cancer.  

“This is the only way they can see it,” he said.

Before every Mass Massman, Knott, the visiting priest and the readers form a circle and hold hands while offering the Mass for the viewers and all their intentions.

“You have no idea for sure what kind of people are affected by the TV Mass. It’s far larger than we would know,” said Knott, who drives in from Wolfe Island in the Kingston archdiocese to make sure each series of tapings runs smoothly. The TV crew bases its camera shots on the outline Knott prepares, highlighting the high points of the Mass.

“Twenty-one years ago we were amateurs, and dealing with professional people like CTV, they demand quality.”

Massman said the Mass has been visually enhanced over the years with ongoing support from people like Ken Paul, a professional floral arranger, who donates and designs all the on-set floral arrangements free of charge.  

Viewer support, private donors and the archdiocese of Toronto cover the taping costs.

The Mass airs Sundays at 10 a.m. on Channel 9.

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