[dropcap type=”4″]T[/dropcap]elevised liturgies are a ministry of the Church that evangelizes by reaching people unable to be physically present in a worshiping community.
Each Sunday about 70,000 people in the Diocese of Phoenix view the televised Mass live from Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral at 9 a.m. on AZ-TV 7/ Cable 13.
People like Jessie Parra, a 91-year-old parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle who’s moved to tears when she talks about seeing it on TV.
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“I don’t know what the people would do without it. Some people can’t get up out of their beds,” she said. “I can feel really, really bad and when it’s time for Communion — and it’s so beautiful — you can just feel Jesus.”
None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the annual Charity and Development Appeal, which allocated nearly $200,000 last year for the televised Mass.
“Between Pope Francis’ call to abandon indifference and Bishop Olmsted’s heart for life at all stages, it is a priority in the Diocese of Phoenix that we serve our home-bound elderly and infirm with the same pastoral care we offer any other parishioner,” said Katie Burke, diocesan communications specialist.
“The live broadcast of the Mass helps build a sense of community and involvement for many who are unable to be active in their local communities. When Bishop Olmsted arrived in Phoenix, it was very important to him that the home-bound have a live local Mass available at home on Sundays.”
What began in 1952 with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s televised, “Life is Worth Living,” to the debut of Mother Angelica in 1981 on the Eternal World Television Network, Catholic television impacts the faithful.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops established guidelines and best practices for the televised Mass that ensure people can identify with a worshiping community, hear the Word of God and are moved to express praise and thanksgiving.
Fr. John Lankeit, rector of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, said as an apostolate of the diocese, the televised Mass is an “extremely powerful evangelization tool.”
He shared a story of a homeless man yelling to him from the opposite side of the street asking, “Hey, are you the TV priest?”
After answering, “yes,” Fr. Lankeit was given permission to bless the man as he continued on his way.
He also hears from non-Catholics that watch weekly.
“It’s important to keep the Lord’s day in any circumstance,” Fr. Lankeit said. “Viewers see beautiful liturgy at the cathedral. It’s good for fallen-away Catholics because they get a taste of good liturgy, and it’s non-threatening because it’s in their own home and they are moved to come back.”
Locally, the diocesan Communications Office integrates various means to engage, inspire and inform more than 1.1 million Catholics within its boundaries.
In addition to television, radio and the newspaper, the office is adept at using New Media for its evangelization purposes, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter.
“We live stream (the Mass) on YouTube which reaches a diverse, world-wide audience including seminarians who are learning how to celebrate the Mass,” Burke said.
Joining the line up of televised liturgies, the Good Friday Service will be broadcast livMe at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 3.
Fr. Gregory Schlarb, vicar of Stewardship, is intimately reminded of the need and benefit of the weekly Sunday televised Mass when he visits friends and former CDA chairs Frank and Kathleen Nageotte.
“Frank will quote a part of the homily during our visit and express his gratitude to ‘at least’ experience the Sunday Mass on television… .”