RTÉ broadcast Masses continue to draw tens of thousands

RTÉ broadcast Masses continue to draw tens of thousands Roger Childs, the Commissioning Editor of Religious Programmes for RTÉ, with some of the ‘thank you’ cards and letters sent to the broadcaster following its decision to broadcast daily Mass on RTÉ News Now during lockdown.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 people a day continue to watch Mass on television, according to Roger Childs, RTÉ’s Senior Production Executive and Commissioning Editor of religious content.

The weekday Masses on the news channel continue to attract large audiences, particularly among whose aged over 55.

Since the start of August, the lowest daily audience was 14,200, or 6.33% of the total TV audience, and the highest was 53,600, or 17.43% of the total TV audience. The latter Mass was in memory of presenter Gay Byrne, from his former parish church in Howth on the anniversary of his death.

Speaking about the ongoing appeal of the service, Mr Childs told The Irish Catholic: “What’s become clear is that this has become a, almost, virtual parish for a lot of people. That they may be denied or deprived of access to their own local churches, but instead, they’ve been given access to other people’s spaces.

“Somebody earlier in the week tweeted in response to my announcement that we were going to be featuring Holy Family Parish in Ardfinnan, and he said, ‘That’s my local church,’ and I replied and said, ‘Well, this morning it’s everybody’s local church’.”

The streaming service is only made available by the efforts of many, and the effort caters to a real need in Irish society, with Mr Childs referring to some of the reaction he’s received to the services.

“That’s what we’re trying to do – we are depending on local clergy, and not just Catholic clergy, we’re also laying on additional services, and we’re relying on churchservices.tv, who do the web-streaming, to bring what one viewer called ‘a lifeline’. I continue to get lots of letters in which people tell me that it’s the reason they get up in the morning. It gives them a bit of hope and focus, and a bit of purpose in their day.

“For the time being at least, certainly until the end of January, we’re going to carry on doing it. And then hopefully, one of the vaccines will mean that we don’t need to continue to do it because they’ll be able to get out to their own churches if they choose.”