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Prayercast offers homilies, liturgy

Amanda Gray | Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notre Dame Campus Ministry’s weekly Prayercast is approaching its three-year milestone, director of Folk Choir and Liturgy Resources Steve Warner said.

“We got this idea about four years ago,” Warner said. “The idea was we started to hear about other places doing podcasts. We thought this would be a great way for us to get a short broadcast every week out to both Notre Dame alums, people that are interested in the University and students that are away from the University for a period of time.”

The first broadcast was three years ago on this coming Ash Wednesday, Warner said. Since then, over 200 broadcasts were produced.

“We were committed to making sure we did it every week of the year,” Warner said. “Then we started adding extra broadcasts. For instance, we’ll have a special one coming up for Saint Patrick’s Day.”

The Prayercasts consist of a sung responsorial psalm, Gospel of the week with an accompanying homily, meditation and specific prayers or intentions, Warner said.

“We have a team of about 10 homilists, Holy Cross guys — including a few guests every once in a while — that are working on this,” Warner said. “We’re usually working about six weeks out to plan all of these things. Right now we’re already halfway through the Lenten season.”

With little to no advertising, around 250,000 visitors tuned in to the 20- to 25-minute long Prayercasts in the past three years, with around 7,000 hits a week coming from 52 countries, Warner said.

Catherine Crecelius, a 2009 graduate and current Campus Ministry intern, listened to the program while she was abroad in Senegal.

“It’s a way to participate in and appreciate a Holy Cross and Notre Dame prayer experience, even when you’re not on campus,” Crecelius said. “For me, that happened when I was in Senegal. I was living in a place where I didn’t have very much Internet access and no connection to any other Notre Dame people besides my friend Colleen who was there with me.”

Crecelius said it was a nice way to relate to the Notre Dame campus while she was away.
“I could close my eyes, lay down in my bed and kind of be brought back to an environment that made me feel safe and like I was at home,” she said.

Crecelius said the Prayercasts are a way to stay connected with the campus.

“It was really nice to have that ability to bring myself back to Notre Dame when I had been away from it and was homesick for the community,” Crecelius said.

Besides an audio portion, the Prayercast is partnered with MassCast — a streaming video of Mass held at the Basilica assembled by students in Film, Television and Theatre, Warner said.

“A 20 minute piece will probably take about two to three hours to create, including the engineering of the music — that is the mixing and the mastering of it — and that doesn’t count the hours of preparation that it takes for a homilist to actually write his own meditation,” Warner said.

Jenny Lewis, a graduate student in sacred music and graduate assistant with the Folk Choir, is the Prayercast’s producer.

“My main job under the umbrella of working with the Folk Choir is producing the Prayercast every week,” Lewis said. “Once a month, on a Friday, we come into CoMo and we set up a portable recording studio, which is really high quality stuff we have now, as far as computers, software, microphones and things.”

After recording, Lewis takes the raw material and creates the finished product.
“Some days it’s more work than others,” Lewis said. “Sometimes there are one-hit wonders and sometimes it takes some creative work on the computer and the software.”

The Prayercast team is introducing something new during Lent, Warner said.

“We’re also going to push the envelope a little,” he said. “We’re actually going to do an audio broadcast every week of Christian mantra.”

The mantras are to assist meditation and deeper spiritual learning, Warner said.
The finished Prayercasts are Warner’s favorite part of the process.

“I really like listening to them afterwards,” he said. “I like hearing what happens when everyone comes at the gospel in different ways. Every week something new comes together as a result of that.”

For more information, visit www.ndprayercast.org or Notre Dame’s iTunesU page.