Cardinal Thomas Collins walks up the aisle at an almost-empty St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica to open the broadcast of Easter Sunday Mass. The broadcast was viewed in more than 55,000 homes. Image from YouTube

Canadians connect with Holy Week

By 
  • April 17, 2020

Across Canada, COVID-cloistered Canadians plugged in throughout Holy Week in big numbers to view Mass at home on TV and over the Internet.

The National Catholic Broadcasting Council, responsible for the Daily TV Mass in English Canada since 1998, drew one of its biggest YouTube numbers ever on Holy Thursday, when 290,804 viewers watched the half-hour Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Another 10,000 people watched directly through the DailyTVMass.com web site and about 80,000 watched on Vision TV.

NCBC executive director Deacon Mike Walsh was surprised the numbers were that big, given the many other options presented to viewers.

With Pope Francis from the Vatican, dozens of dioceses across Canada, plus thousands of parishes worldwide all streaming liturgies, Catholics with an Internet connection had a lot to choose from, Walsh pointed out.

In fact, as the Triduum continued and people sought out alternatives either with their own parish or live from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the NCBC’s YouTube numbers dwindled. But on Easter Sunday it was still a robust 180,255 on YouTube alone.

In terms of archdioceses, Toronto was the heavyweight with 49,508 homes watching its Good Friday liturgy on YouTube.

The Toronto Holy Week numbers built from a pretty decent 13,655 homes on Palm Sunday to 24,221 on Holy Thursday, but backed off to 25,764 for the Easter Vigil.

St. Michael’s Cathedral Mass viewership spiked back up to 55,709 homes for the Easter Sunday Mass. There were 26,711 YouTube viewers who tuned in to the Easter liturgy at Edmonton’s St. Joseph’s Basilica.

Individual parish YouTube numbers were naturally more modest. For example, Immaculate Conception, a large parish in Woodbridge, Ont., had 625 home viewers Easter Sunday, while the large parish of St. Patrick’s in Markham peaked at 981 on Easter and 950 on Good Friday. The big downtown Toronto parish of Our Lady of Lourdes reached 1,423 on Good Friday.

With a total population of less than half a million and barely 30 per cent of them Catholic, the Archdiocese of Regina proved effective in reaching a big audience. Good Friday from Holy Rosary Cathedral pulled in 26,109 viewers on YouTube. The two-hour Easter Vigil had 16,823 watching.

Quebec’s tiny Diocese of Chicoutimi pulled in over 7,000 viewers for its Palm Sunday Mass on Facebook.

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