Televised Easter Mass with Bishop O'Connell draws millions of viewers
Story by Rayanne Bennett | Associate Publisher
On Easter Sunday, as an estimated 4 million plus viewers from around the United States tuned in to the national televised Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord, they were taken to Spring Lake and the unique church thought to be among the most beautiful sites along the Jersey Shore.
The televised Mass took place in St. Catharine Church, and featured Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., as principal celebrant and homilist, several concelebrating priests and more than 300 worshipers who gathered from around the Diocese of Trenton. The program was provided through the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission and ABC. It was aired on local ABC affiliates and posted for viewing on diocesan digital media. The Mass was videotaped Nov. 30, and produced by the Diocese’s Department of Multimedia Production.
St. Catharine Church, with its neoclassical architecture and interior artwork reflective of the Renaissance period, provided a fitting backdrop for the moving liturgical experience that was served up to viewers. The location was Bishop O’Connell’s first choice for the celebration of this special Mass that was aired in 209 cities and markets across the country, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Seattle, Tampa and Detroit, as well as the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, Hamilton-Bermuda and St. Croix.
While the ratings for the 2018 broadcast are not yet available, the 2017 televised Easter Mass was seen by 4.6 million viewers. Despite very early time slots in the local markets of New York and Philadelphia (5 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. respectively) , the program was ranked last year as having one of the largest market shares in those two cities.
Many in the diocesan community also watched the Mass, and Bishop O’Connell’s homily via digital media after it aired on television. Within the first three days after being posted, the Mass had more than 570 distinct views on the diocesan YouTube channel, and Facebook saw 700 individual clicks on the post to experience the Mass. Additionally, Facebook had more than 2,100 views of the Bishop’s homily video.
In his homily, Bishop O’Connell reflected on the Jesus of history, and the Christ of faith, pointing out that they are one and the same, as seen in his Passion, Death and Resurrection. The Bishop noted that Christ’s ministry caused people to hope, but his death dashed that hope for many of his followers. “But his Resurrection made everything right,” Bishop O’Connell assured.
He proclaimed, “For all who believe, Easter is the heart of our faith, it is the life of our faith, it is the breath of our faith …. Easter is everything.”
Others involved in the Mass include Father Harold Cullen and Father Martin O’Reilly, pastor and parochial vicar, respectively, of St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish; Father Michael Wallack, secretary to the Bishop, as well as many ministers and parishioners from the hosting parish community. Adding to the beauty and solemnity of the celebration were members of St. Catharine Adult Choir and Youth Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Jarred Tafaro.
Faithful from across the Diocese also took part, in some cases arriving by the busloads from Catholic schools. Participating students represented St. Catharine School; St. Rose High School, Belmar; Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton; St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, and Mater Dei Prep, Middletown.
Members of the Diocese’s Facebook community took time to post comments of appreciation.
“Amanda Bloodgood” wrote, “Great homily! What a wonderful video to watch first thing Easter morning. Amazing work by Bishop O’Connell.”
“DeGe Caddy” posted, “Been up since 4 a.m. Got to watch it on WABC. Happy Easter!”, to which “Sue Sablom Klinger” responded, “I recorded it and watched it this morning. Beautiful Mass, I feel blessed!”
Another early riser, “Mike Abatemarco,” wrote, “Watched this morning. It was beautiful. Fantastic homily. Thank you Bishop David, Happy Easter.”
On Easter Monday, “Adriane Gullotta Gsell” posted, “What a wonderful surprise and blessing it was to see our dear Bishop David on Channel 7 at 5 a.m. yesterday! It was a beautiful Mass and inspiring homily. Thank you and God bless you, Bishop David, for all you do for all of us!”