Saturday, October 8, 2011

WDIO Duluth/WIRT Hibbing to televise Sunday Mass at Basilica of National Shrine in Washington

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Sunday Mass at Basilica of National Shrine to be televised

By Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross

Ever since the Diocese of Duluth stopped sponsoring a televised Sunday Mass broadcast about five years ago, there has been a steady stream of requests hoping to see the broadcast returned. That hope will soon be fulfilled — Sept. 18 at 9:30 a.m. on WDIO-TV to be exact.

“Many, many seniors have written asking for a resumption of the Sunday Mass,” said Mike Bilden, development director for the diocese. He said the letters and calls have come not only from the Duluth diocese but also the neighboring diocese in Superior, Wis., the northern portion of which also receives coverage from Duluth television stations.

With the help of a three-year decreasing grant from the Catholic Extension Society of Chicago, the diocese will again be able to broadcast a 30-minute televised Mass throughout most of the diocese. The National Catholic Society of Foresters also has contributed money that will be used for promoting the Mass, Bilden said.

The broadcast will have a higher profile than it did previously on another station, where it aired earlier in the morning. The 9:30 a.m. time this fall and winter will directly precede the Minnesota Vikings pregame show.

“It’s a super time to have this Mass,” Bilden said.

As part of the arrangement, WDIO will also air 10 30-second promotions of the Mass throughout the week at random times. Bilden said Steve LaFlamme Sr. at WDIO, whose son Steve Jr. is a diocesan priest, worked to make things work out so well at the station.

The broadcast itself should also be of very high quality. It is a 30-minute Mass originating from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Diocesan officials looked at five different options, Bilden said. “This one of course fit the criteria in every way,” he said, being the right length, liturgically sound, current with the liturgical calendar and affordable.

Bilden said the demand has been considerable. A televised Mass does not substitute for the Sunday Mass obligation, but many people who cannot get to Mass because they are homebound, in a rest home or simply stuck in bad weather want to see the Mass and participate in the life of the church even though their obligation is lifted.

Bilden said the service was a priority for Bishop Paul Sirba. “It’s Bishop Sirba who’s really intent on reaching out to everyone in the diocese,” he said.

The three-year grant covers the broadcast for the first year. After that, the diocese will have to start covering part of the cost through donations, and at the end of the three-year period will be responsible for the cost.

“I think there’s a good chance that it will become self-sustaining,” Bilden said.

But for that to happen, there will have to be sufficient donations to cover the cost of the broadcast. He said he also hopes for some support in the Superior diocese, where officials have agreed to send out bulletin announcements asking for individual donations.

Accessing the broadcast will vary based on where a person is located and how a person gets television. Bulletin announcements with more detailed information are being sent to parishes. Those with questions may also contact the diocese at (218) 724-9111.
Northern Cross

Some of those parishes in northeastern Minnesota are located a long way from their parishioners.
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