The Christmas tunes have yet to hit the radio, and the store shelves are still filled with Halloween candy, but plans are well underway to record a Christmas Mass in late October so the nation can watch it on TV during Christmas week.
"It takes months of preparation," said Claire Rung, executive producer of Daybreak TV Productions, who is proud of the fact that the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission has chosen the Diocese of Buffalo to pre-record the Mass that will be shown by approximately 90 percent of the ABC affiliates across the country, reaching about 10 million people.
"It's a fantastic opportunity and a wonderful expression of faith for Buffalo Catholics to celebrate Christmas with the country," said Rung. She notes the excitement surrounding Buffalo's economic renaissance. "This is also part of that. It's Catholics in the Diocese of Buffalo having a renaissance through this opportunity from the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission."
After experiencing the energy of World Youth Day in Poland this past summer, Bishop Richard J. Malone will celebrate the Mass for a young adult crowd, mostly in their 20s and 30s. It will be recorded on October 22 at Our Lady Help of Christians Chapel, at Union Road and Genesee Street in Cheektowaga. The chapel holds about 200 people and is listed in the New York State and National Register of Historical Places.
"Our Lady Help of Christians Chapel is a special and wonderful worship site," said Rung. "It has a rich history and the physical beauty of the chapel has been restored to near its original design." German immigrant Joseph Batt built the chapel in 1853 by to fulfill his promise to the Blessed Virgin Mary made during a perilous Atlantic crossing. Over the years many visited the shrine in search of blessings and the pilgrimage Chapel became a parish.
The Diocese of Buffalo continues to seek an individual, group or company willing to help underwrite the costs for this project. The estimated cost will be about $20,000 to hire freelance staff, rent equipment and purchase decorations needed to make it a network quality production. The underwriter would get full-screen credit at the end of the televised Mass.
"We are hoping that there is someone in the diocese who wants to be part of providing this Mass to the country," said Rung. "Because we've done this before, we have streamlined costs and steps needed for a successful program."
This marks the sixth time the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission has chosen the Diocese of Buffalo to create a video production to air nationwide. Daybreak TV Productions has produced two previous Christmas Masses and an Easter Mass. Daybreak has also produced two nationally released documentaries, "Building a Basilica" and "Proving Holiness."
Daybreak's executive producer encourages guests to dress for Christmas. "It has to look like it's a Mass from Buffalo at Christmas. People instinctually know to have coats and dress accordingly. Even for the outside shot of the church, we will wait as long as we can for snow so when it airs on TV the Christmas Mass will have a snowy shot of the church."
Local conductor Michael Hooker has agreed to lead Gloria Deo Chorus, a choir made up of mostly young adults from the Diocese of Buffalo. Rung said the choir will be helpful in setting the Christmas mood before the recording starts. "The music will help prepare the congregation for the celebration of Christmas Mass," she said. "This is a huge evangelization effort, on behalf of the Diocese of Buffalo, to share our faith with the country."
The diocese is encouraging young adults who are interested in being among the congregation for this pre-recorded Christmas Mass to contact Ann at 716-847-8721 or APrzybylski@buffalodiocese.org.