Fr Chris del Rosario and Fr John Paul Escarlan, two familiar faces in the Diocese of Parramatta, will be on TV starting this Sunday as they celebrate the Mass for You At Home services broadcast on Channel 10.
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The Diocese of Parramatta was asked to provide priests to say four Masses, the first of which will be shown this Sunday at 6.00am on Channel 10 and WIN TV.
Fr John Paul, a priest of Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown, had a special interest in participating in the broadcast due to his past work with the deaf community. “Many deaf and hard of hearing people watch Mass for You At Home because it also features someone interpreting in sign language,” he said.
Other people who watch the nationally televised Masses may be in remote areas, in hospital or jail or can’t leave home in some way. The broadcasts have been airing since August 1971.
Fr Chris, who is assistant priest at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Parramatta, and Fr John Paul both admit to being a little nervous about the experience which was quite different to saying Mass in front of a live congregation.
Fr Chris explained, “Usually there’s a bit of a gap between the sanctuary and the first pew, at Mass for You at Home the cameras and their operators are ‘up close’ which does make it a bit nerve-racking, despite celebrating Mass every day.”
He was hesitant when he was first approached, but after realising the impact that the televised Masses have, he was happy to take part. “After a few conversations with Fr Peter Williams (Vicar General in the Diocese of Parramatta) and Fr Robert Riedling (Dean and Administrator at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta) they pointed out that it would be a good opportunity to reach out to the wider Church in Australia,” he said.
Narelle Khoury, a parishioner and former sacramental coordinator at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes, who has also taught scripture at Holy Trinity Parish, Granville, felt privileged to read for the Masses said by Fr John Paul, even with an early morning start in Wollongong where it is filmed.
“It’s an honour to bring the Word of God to those who can’t make it to Mass and to be representing the Diocese in this way,” she said. Her grandmother used to watch the Masses and she herself remembers tuning in when her children were newborn babies. It was a new experience for her, with makeup, practising and listening to the director all part of the process.
Both Fr Chris and Fr John Paul felt Mass for You at Home serves an important purpose.
“I believe that it is important to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are housebound, in prison, in a place where they have no Mass and only can attend by watching it on a television,” Fr John Paul said.
Fr Chris added, “The large lights and cameras are definitely a contrast between the livestream here at the Cathedral.”
Mass for You At Home featuring Fr Chris, Fr John Paul and readers from the Diocese of Parramatta will be broadcast at 6.00am on Channel 10 and WIN TV starting this Sunday. It can also be viewed on Foxtel’s Aurora channel or at the website massforyou.com.au.
The Masses are scheduled for 13 June, 27 June, 18 July and 1 August 2021.
The Australian Catholic Bishops are fundraising to keep Mass for You At Home on air, live, free and accessible to all people. You can find details of how to contribute here.