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Mass from Notre Dame means a lot

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 16, 2006

For the past three years, Mass from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart has been nationally televised each Sunday on the Hallmark Channel. Nielsen ratings, adjusted for a Catholic viewing audience, count up to 1.5 million people joining by television our regular worshippers at the Basilica. The many people who write to Father Peter Rocca, C.S.C., rector of the Basilica, or to one of the two directors of the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir and the Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir, Dr. Gail Walton and Dr. Andrew McShane, respectively, refer to many things they enjoy each Sunday morning when they tune in to “Sunday Mass from Notre Dame.”

They love the astounding beauty of the Basilica. They enjoy the music and the homilies, which they can access each week on the Campus Ministry website. They write to tell us how impressed they are by the large number of young men and women who are present for Mass, and how this gives them joy and hope for the future of the Catholic Church in our country.

They like the wide age spread of the Holy Cross priests who preside at the Masses. And they let us in on especially touching moments in their lives.

One man wrote to tell us that for six months before his wife died of cancer, the two of them “attended” Mass together every Sunday while holding hands and watching the Mass from Notre Dame. At the end of the Mass, their daughter, who serves as a Eucharistic minister in their parish, brought them the Eucharist.

A woman from California told us that, while she was channel-surfing one Sunday morning while taking a break from gardening, she happened upon the Mass. After more than twenty years as a lapsed Catholic, she started watching the Mass each week. A love for the Church and the Eucharist was reawakened in her heart, and she wrote about the joy she now experiences after returning to the Church last Easter.

The director of an RCIA program in her parish in Colorado told us of a young man who dropped out of the program last year. He rejoined it as a result of a homily in which the priest asked the question, “Where would we be without the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?” He realized that was why he wanted to become a Catholic, and did so in April.

The Hallmark Channel, through Faith & Values Media, continues to televise the Vigil Mass from the Basilica on a tape delay (except for home football weekends, when it is live) at 8:00 a.m.

In addition to this, DirecTV will begin to broadcast the 10:00 a.m. Mass live every Sunday in all time zones, starting Dec. 3, on channel 103. They will also televise Midnight Mass from the Basilica this Christmas. And, at the request of men and women serving in the military in Afghanistan and Iraq, “Sunday Mass from Notre Dame” is archived each week and available for them through the Notre Dame website.

But there’s more.

The Notre Dame Folk Choir and six Holy Cross priests from Notre Dame will soon be offering 15 minutes of song, scripture and reflections every week as a podcast. It will be available starting in the second semester at www.ndprayercast.org. Steve Warner, director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir, is the idea man and organizing skill behind this new Campus Ministry effort. Join us!

Father Richard V. Warner, CSC, is the director of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.