St. James students, pastor tape Masses airing on WPXI, sister channels
Several students at St. James Catholic School in Sewickley took a field trip for God to give shut-ins the opportunity to experience a church service in their homes.
The Rev. Thomas Burke, St. James priest, along with 10 students in grades six to eight, traveled to WPXI television studios in Pittsburgh last month to tape two Masses that aired on the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel, PCNC, and ME-TV.
The last time St. James participated in the volunteer taping was in 2007 with the Rev. Clint Zadroga and before that, in 2004, with the Rev. David Poecking.
Burke said the Masses are taped in a separate studio at the station, complete with pulpit and altar. A green screen behind the priest seen during the taping shows up as the image of a chapel on TV.
The service is a shortened version of the Masses that Burke presented at St. James, with a homily of about 4 minutes and a 27-minute Mass.
Students, who also sang, and parents, chaperones and drivers sat in the audience and gave responses.
Burke explained the Masses, which first were seen on WPXI every week for more than 30 years, began airing on PCNC in 2010. Over the years, priests in the area rotate to perform the Masses each week. They are taped every Wednesday afternoon and air on Sunday.
Burke said sometimes people think the broadcasts are live. Some see him at 6 a.m. on television and a little while later at St. James and don't understand how he got back to the church so fast.
Burke said he performed the televised Masses many times when he was pastoring at other churches. Just as he has done the past few years, this year he again agreed to perform two Mass tapings on the same day to give the WPXI staff a break for the holidays. He said it is hard for the staff to find priests to agree to do the tapings around the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
“It's surprising how many people watch the Masses. My sisters works at UPMC Shadyside, and when she goes to draw blood, she said there are lots of people in their rooms who are watching the tapings,” he said.
Burke said he also has received several comments from people saying they saw him on television. And, having graduated with bachelor's degree in broadcasting and communications in 1992 from Clarion University and formerly completing internships at several radio stations, he said he loves being part of the program.
As he walked students back to the “church” studio, he told them a little about the newsroom, pointing out where the producers were, along with the main studio where anchors Peggy Finnegan and David Johnson read the news and also pointed out the weather desk.
“It was like a field trip for them. They loved it.”
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.