By Stephanie A. Patka
2016 marks the 30 year anniversary of the local TV Mass that is broadcast in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The ministry of the TV Mass was designed with the sick and homebound in mind. While the televised Mass is never considered a replacement for Mass at one’s parish, it can be a help to those in hospitals, nursing homes or living alone and unable to travel.
Not only is the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend the only Indiana diocese to continue the televised Mass ministry, but it also is one of few dioceses to offer two local televised Masses to reach both ends of the diocese media markets. While the location has changed over the years, Mass is now broadcast every Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. on WNDU, Channel 16 in South Bend and WFFT, Channel 55 in Fort Wayne. Mass is also live-streamed through the diocesan website and previously streamed Masses can be viewed online 24 hours a day. Mass in Fort Wayne is celebrated at the chapel at the University of St. Francis and in the special set designed specifically for the TV Mass at the WNDU studios in South Bend.
The inaugural TV Masses were celebrated on the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, 1986, by the late Bishop John M. D’Arcy in Fort Wayne and by the late Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Crowley in South Bend. At the time, Bishop D’Arcy said that he wanted to reach every person and that the “purpose of this Mass is to bring Christ into the living rooms of all our people.” Since the beginning, priests of the diocese have celebrated the weekly TV Mass and will typically bring parishioners to participate in the live liturgy as proclaimers, servers, musicians and choral groups.
The importance of the ministry of the TV Mass is also reflected in the dedication and enthusiasm of the over 20 volunteers in both locations that serve on a regular basis. Recently, an anonymous note of thanks was submitted, “I just happened to be home and decided to turn the channel to the Mass. For whatever reason, I believe the energetic and spirit-filled priest, the beautiful cantor’s voice and talented musician, the sweet proclaimer, the awesome servers and those behind the scenes – even the innocent babbling sound of infants – made me feel as if I were at a church in my own home. I found myself feeling prayerful, blessed and lifted up. I am sure that those who watched, who were homebound, in a hospital, or nursing home, or just like me watching from home, felt the loving presence of Jesus Christ.”
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