St. Anthony Catholic Church in Linton
, a live Mass is now televised through BEK Communications Cooperative (BEK) in Steele, reaching many people in south-central North Dakota.
Every Sunday morning, those who have BEK TV and reside in the service area can turn to channel 25 to view the live Mass. The recitation of the rosary is broadcast shortly after 10 a.m. and Mass begins at 10:30 a.m.
Father David Richter serves as pastor at St. Anthony parish and said the process started when members of the church were displeased with the quality of the sound system in the sanctuary.
After a generous donor offered to lead the charge on a sound system overhaul, little did anybody know that the new sound system in Linton would amplify across the state of North Dakota.
The church had just begun meeting with North Star Audio when someone asked whether it would be possible to equip the new system to make Mass available to the Linton Hospital and the Prairie Rose Assisted Living apartments across the street.
From there, the discussion quickly turned to broadcasting Mass on the BEK TV network. After all, if sporting events can be broadcast from small-town N.D., why not Mass?
A number of phone calls and meetings sealed the deal, and once the new sound system’s wiring and equipment were in place, the St. Anthony Catholic Church Mass was ready for broadcast. The broadcast has the potential to be viewed by more than 6,000 BEK customers across six counties in south-central N.D.
The system was designed to produce a professional broadcast in an uncomplicated way. A camera is mounted in the back of the church and can be operated using a remote control while watching the shots on a monitor.
Sue Schumacher serves as the business manager at St. Anthony and can now label herself a live-TV camera operator.
“After the camera arrived and our remote was hooked up, we learned on the go,” Schumacher said. “Now, those who have done it pass the information onto those who are willing to help with this ministry.”
The broadcast really has become a ministry in its relatively short life. Besides offering the opportunity for the elderly and those in nursing homes to see a local Mass when they are unable to make it to the church, youth have also jumped at the chance to get involved in Mass in a new way, serving as camera operators.
“We also have music ministers, those who serve the ministry of music in our church, help with operating the camera,” Richter said.
In March of 2013, just prior to Holy Thursday, the “Living Stations of the Cross,” a performance by the youth of the parish, became the debut broadcast. Since then, Mass
has been broadcast each Sunday and holy day.
The church is also hoping to air special events in the future, such as confirmation.
“We would also like to broadcast some of our local parish community-type events,” Richter said.
So far, the broadcast has been a relatively well-kept secret—even to visiting priests
who didn’t realize they were on live TV until after Mass was over.
“We’ll have to make a point to [warn visiting priests beforehand]. Who knows? The priest might make a comment about the
crazy “ChrEasters” at Menoken
and later find out that they were watching!” Richter joked, referring to a men’s singing group at the
Church of St. Hildegard in Menoken
, which is 50 miles northwest of Linton and in the BEK service area.
Richter and Schumacher said they have received many positive comments, not just from their parish, but from members of other Catholic churches in the area, and also non-Catholics.
“A parishioner said a spouse that is not Catholic watches it every week and appreciates that we do this ministry,” Richter said.
Those who have family members or friends in the nursing homes have appreciated it and have expressed their gratitude to the parish.
At the start, Richter emailed local nursing homes in the service area to make them aware of the weekly Mass that would be on BEK channel 25.
“Nursing homes gather all those who want to watch it and have it on a big screen for them,” he said.
The requirements for broadcasting are simply a BEK Internet connection and camera equipment purchases. There is also the usual maintenance costs of the equipment, but those are minimal expenses according to Richter.
The broadcast is sustained by the generosity of the parishioners and ministers of the St. Anthony Catholic Church in Linton.
“Like all churches, we depend on the generosity of good people and do not discriminate against outside donors to help us make ends meet!” Richter said.
The parishioners are pleased they can provide this ministry to so many others who may be unable to attend Mass as they wish.
“This is a beautiful way for people to still be connected with their local parish family,” he said. “It has been a blessing to have this gift and share it with others.”
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