Televised Masses will now be produced by Passionist Communications
ALLOUEZ — People who tune in for the weekly Sunday Mass at 5:30 a.m. on WBAY-TV will see something a little different beginning on Dec. 27.That’s when the Diocese of Green Bay will switch from producing its local 30-minute Mass to airing one produced by Passionist Communications from Pelham, N.Y. Passionist Communications is a ministry of the Passionist religious order whose mission is to “communicate the saving message of the cross of Jesus Christ,” according to their Web site, www.passionist.org. Currently, the Passionist Mass is carried on 39 channels in 31 cities across the country.
“Making the switch from a locally produced Mass to something produced by another diocese or religious order has been considered for a couple of years,” said Renae Bauer, diocesan director of Communications. “My predecessor, Tony Kuick, and I began surveying other dioceses in Wisconsin in early 2008, but when Tony passed away on Sept. 21, 2009, and the decision was made to not fill the assistant director’s position the search took on more urgency.”
After contacting other dioceses across the nation and reviewing the length, quality and cost of 16 Masses, the search was narrowed to five. Sr. Ann Rehrauer, diocesan director of Evangelization and Worship, and Bauer, reviewed these and recommended the Passionist Communications Mass to the Diocesan Administration Office and to Bishop David Ricken, who approved the recommendation.
“From a liturgical standpoint, I like the Passionist Mass,” said Sr. Rehrauer, a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. “The Word is proclaimed well, the Eucharist is respectfully celebrated, the music is beautiful and the environment is that of a church or a chapel. I think viewers will find the Passionist Mass to be a positive and prayerful experience.”
The broadcast of the Sunday Mass has been a tradition since WBAY-TV took to the airwaves on March 17, 1953, under the ownership of the Norbertine Fathers in De Pere. Back then, “it was being filmed in the (WBAY) auditorium,” said Dick Millhiser, programming and operations manager for WBAY.
When the Norbertines sold the station in the mid-1970s, the diocese agreed to assume responsibilities for scheduling celebrants and liturgical ministers, creating the worship environment at WBAY’s studio, and producing each Mass.
And so the 56-year tradition will continue but in a slightly different fashion.
“WBAY has graciously agreed to continue airing the Mass to benefit our homebound Catholics,” said Bauer. “The number of letters we have received over the years is evidence that people are watching and are appreciative of the service. We couldn’t have come this far without the staff at WBAY, the Norbertines, Tony Kuick and all the priests and choirs who have generously given of their time and talent to this ministry. I am grateful, and I hope we will be able to provide a televised Mass for our people for years to come.”