Through their part-time ministry with the Daily TV Mass of the National Catholic Broadcasting Company of Canada, the Holy Cross priests in the Region of English Canada have virtually crossed many borders by connecting tens of thousands of Catholics worldwide with their faith through their televised celebration of the Eucharist.
Holy Cross’s link with the Daily TV Mass goes back to 2007 when Fr. Frank Wagner, C.S.C., was invited to preside at a Sunday Mass. Fr. Wagner eventually received more invitations over the years, which eventually led to Fr. Francis Salasiar, C.S.C., becoming part of the team.
Fr. Roshan D’Souza, C.S.C., followed, and most recently, Fr. Vijay Amirtharaj, C.S.C., Regional Superior, became the newest addition to the list of TV celebrants.
The Masses are filmed at the historic Loretto Abbey Chapel in Toronto with two camera operators, a floor director, and cantors.
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Fr. Roshan says that the ministry has been enriching for him. “Initially, I was a bit nervous and self-conscious in front of the camera. Since we are confined to time limits, I had to be accurate with my homily timing and the tempo throughout the Mass, but I quickly got used to it. By revisiting my Mass on YouTube, I have learned to improve my pronunciation and overall presentation style.”
Although it is a different medium, Fr. Vijay sees the TV Mass simply as an extension of his pastoral ministry at St. Kevin’s Parish in Welland. “During the lockdown, we also did online Masses for our parishioners. The TV Mass is similar in form, but because this Mass is viewed worldwide, it is just a much larger congregation,” he says.
One of the benefits of this ministry for the Congregation is the visibility it provides. People who tune in for the Mass have a Holy Cross Priest as presider more than a few times a month.
Fr. Francis Salasiar has first-hand experience of how this visibility plays out with those whom he encounters in his ministry. “As I go to different parishes and dioceses preaching or giving mission appeals, so many times people have come up to me saying that they recognized me from my TV Mass. Some even Google me for my address and write to say how much they appreciate the effort I put into the Mass.”
Crossing borders is what Jesus told his disciples to do when he said, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel” (Mk 16:15). It is a true blessing for the Church of Canada and the Congregation that the Holy Cross priests in Ontario virtually have taken this gospel message to heart.