The Early Years
At the request of Bishop Rene H. Gracida and through the generosity of the Kenedy Memorial Foundation, a grant was made in late 1984 to Corpus Christi Cathedral for video production equipment and 3 years of operational funds for the purpose of producing a weekly live television broadcast of the 9:30 AM Cathedral Sunday Mass.
After delays occasioned by other structural renovations in the Cathedral Church, the system was ultimately installed and weekly live broadcasts of the 9:30 AM Mass began to air on KZTV Channel 10 in November of 1985. The original system consisted of four Saticon tube cameras, videotape record and playback equipment, video switchers audio mixer, character generator, required engineering monitors and a video microwave link to deliver programming to KZTV. Platforms were constructed at discreet locations to allow the cameras to capture the liturgy appropriately. Fifty four kilowatts of television lighting were installed in recessed ceiling enclosures to appropriately light the sanctuary and choir areas.
The Cathedral Mass became a Sunday morning tradition over the years, gaining wide acceptance and viewer ship. Since its inception the Cathedral Sunday TV Mass broadcasts have been produced and managed by Diocesan Telecommunications Corporation and the Catholic Communications Network.
Mass Broadcasts Fall on Hard Times
As a result of Diocesan budget actions in July of 1996, which resulted in a 40% reduction in subsidies to Diocesan Telecommunications, many programs operated on behalf of the Diocese by DTC were curtailed. The Cathedral Sunday Mass broadcasts were one of those projects. The Mass broadcasts were put on hold amidst considerable public outcry, which was well documented in the local media. After almost 11 years of continuous broadcasts, the weekly telecasts came to a halt on July 7, 1996.
Negotiations were immediately opened with various entities in an attempt to secure the required funds needed to restart the broadcasts. Complicating the situation was the fact that the video production equipment was over 10 years old and was becoming unreliable.
In late 1996 Christus Spohn Health System, recognizing the fact that the weekly broadcasts were paramount in ministering the sick, the elderly and shut-ins, made a large operational grant to the project. Additionally, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial foundation approved a grant to purchase one new camera to replace an ageing unit and Diocesan Telecommunications Corporation committed the use of two additional state of the art CCD video Cameras. The net effect was that the primary pieces of production equipment were updated and sufficient funds were again available to resume production. The broadcasts resumed on January 5th 1997 amidst much acclaim.
Impact of Broadcasts
The weekly broadcasts of the Cathedral Sunday Mass over the years has been a cornerstone of Diocesan evangelization efforts. The telecasts have touched thousands of viewers both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, with the Word of God and Liturgy of the Eucharist. Many have been moved to inquire about the Catholic Faith or have been drawn back to the Church because of the rich liturgy, outstanding music ministry and exceptional homily’s, which make up the Cathedral celebrations.
Of equal if not more importance is the fact that this weekly broadcast is paramount in reaching the sick, the elderly and the shut-ins with Holy Mass. Without this broadcast these members of the faithful would not have the benefit of celebrating the liturgy of their faith.
The Cathedral Sunday Mass also makes it possible to broadcast other important liturgical celebrations not only across South Texas but also internationally. Some of the more notable events made possible by these facilities are:
- Yearly Broadcast of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration and Liturgy live across South Texas
- Yearly Christmas Broadcast of “A Cathedral Christmas” Service of Lessons and Carols and Midnight Mass.
- Live Broadcast of the Welcoming Liturgy for Bishop Roberto Gonzalez O.F.M. (prime time telecast)
- Live Broadcast of the Installation Liturgy of Bishop Edmond Carmody
- Broadcast of the Installation Liturgy of Bishop Michael Mulvey
- Broadcast of the Funeral Liturgy of Bishop Thomas Drury
- 1991 live International Broadcast via the Eternal Word Television Network of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration and Liturgy Live from the Cathedral Church (23 million potential households).
- 1993 live International Broadcast via the Eternal Word Television Network of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration and Liturgy Live from the Cathedral Church (23 million potential households).
- Special taping of Diocesan events e.g. Ordinations, Red Mass, etc.