FORT WAYNE — Since 1986, the sick and homebound of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have been blessed by the locally produced diocesan TV Mass. It was a ministry started not as a replacement for Mass at one’s parish, but rather to reach those in hospitals or nursing homes, and those who live alone or are unable to travel.
In recent years, with the increasing demands on priests at local parishes on Sunday mornings, scheduling celebrants for the local production has become increasingly difficult. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades is dedicated to continuing this ministry for those who depend on it, while at the same time relieving priests of the scheduling conflicts.
To accomplish these goals, Bishop Rhoades has made the decision to continue broadcasting a TV Mass on local channels in both Fort Wayne (WFFT-55) and South Bend (WNDU-16) at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, but to outsource its production. Beginning Sept. 23, the diocese will utilize a feed of the Mass from Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, called “Heart of the Nation Catholic Mass.” This Mass also will be available online for those viewers who are accustomed to watching the livestream from the diocesan website. The last locally produced TV Mass will air Sept. 16.
Stephanie Patka, Secretary of Communications for the diocese, recognized the difficulty of the decision. “While we will not see local priests, going forward, on the TV Mass, I am grateful that the ministry to the homebound is not being eliminated and that the Mass will still be accessible through local stations.” The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is the only Indiana diocese to continue providing a televised Mass ministry.
Patka credits the volunteers of the TV Mass for making the local production possible. “Truly, it was their dedication, work and talent that provided this blessing to so many people throughout the diocese.” Since the beginning, priests of the diocese who celebrated the weekly TV Mass would also typically bring parishioners to participate in the live liturgy as proclaimers, servers, musicians and choral groups.
The diocese also thanks its partners, WNDU-TV and the University of Saint Francis, which have provided locations for the TV Mass broadcast, as well as all the priests who celebrated Mass and the donors who have financially supported the ministry.
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