The Sunday Mass: Shepherding Television Viewers
For more than a quarter of a century, Passionist Communications of Pelham, New York has made The Sunday Mass available to its audience on various TV channels and cable networks.
During the two years before the first televised Mass on December 20, 1970, Father Mark Connolly, a young Passionist priest, had canvassed various TV outlets striving to get the Mass on their schedules.
Through the good graces of Thomas O'Neill, then chairman of the board of RKO General, The Sunday Mass finally appeared on New York area's Channel 9.
Father Mark, who had a few small offices in the newly-constructed Passionist Retreat, called "Gethsemane-on-the-Hudson," also had a few volunteers to assist him in this original undertaking. He was beset with many problems in the infancy of the program.
The Current Audience
One of the most popular of Sunday morning religious programs, The Sunday Mass is estimated to have an audience of 750,000 people. With the new cable outlets, that audience may reach a million or a million and a quarter. On Christmas and Easter feasts, that number could be as much as two million viewers. It is, of course, a favorite of shut-ins and the sick everywhere.
This program presents a wonderful opportunity for so many to hear the Word of God as well as offering God the gift of their worship.
The viewers of The Sunday Mass are assisted in their prayer and worship by a beautifully-edited book called "The TV Prayer-Guide," which is sent to anyone requesting it. Almost 100 thousand copies are printed twice a year and mailed out. Over three million "Prayer Guides" have been distributed over the past 23 years. To lessen the cost of this production, Passionist Communications even buys its own paper.
Passionist Communications also produces a Newsletter four times a year for those who write in for one reason or another. This Newsletter goes to 87,000 persons. A great deal of time and energy is spent responding to the needs of those seeking guidance, information and help in many areas. It has almost become the parish priest for many seeking help.
The Pastoral Team
Since its inception, over a dozen Passionists have assisted in the production of The Sunday Mass and its diversified other ministries.
Currently, the team - all Passionists - includes Father Leo J. Gorman, Director, assisted by Fathers Paschal Smith and Stephen Haslach. Fr.Leo has given 21 years to this ministry. The other two priests are in their eighth year. They share a multitude of duties.
Among the specialized programs produced by Passionist Communications was a preached Parish Mission, given by a team of Passionist preachers. Tapes of this program have been used in many places, including closed-circuit TV in hospitals and other places.
For its first 15 years, New York area's Channel 9 carried The Sunday Mass. For the last 10 years or so, New York City's Channel 5 has televised the program. For a while, the Mass was produced in the studios at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, NY. In the last ten years production has moved to the larger studios and chapel at the Don Bosco Center in New Rochelle, NY.
Today, The Sunday Mass is seen on New York TV Channels 5 and 31, Long Island Channel 55 and on eleven other TV channels in the United States.
The Gospel continues to use modern technology to make itself available to all who will listen.
And it is reaching into places it never touched before!
P. O. Box 440
Pelham, NY 10803-0440
archives of the Passionists Compassion Magazine
© 1997, 2007 - all rights reserved - Passionist Missionaries of Union City, NJ USA