Seeking to evangelize, cathedral switches to 12:05 p.m. Mass
In an effort to take advantage of one of its biggest assets – the thousands of tourists who visit the historic church each week – St. Louis Cathedral is switching its daily Mass to 12:05 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning Wednesday, July 1.
Mass has been celebrated daily at 7:30 a.m., but Father Philip Landry, cathedral rector, said the change to 12:05 p.m. should greatly increase attendance and the number of people going to confession, especially among French Quarter residents and workers and among the out-of-town visitors who make up the vast majority of cathedral Massgoers during the week.
Father Landry, who became cathedral rector two years ago, said he spoke with Archbishop Gregory Aymond about making the time change to capitalize on the cathedral’s ability to attract tourists. The 12:05 p.m. time seemed to offer the greatest benefit.
Benefits workers, tourists
“This will allow some of the French Quarter business people to attend Mass on their lunch hour,” Father Landry said. “The archbishop also asked me to focus on the area of evangelization. This is going to give more attention to tourists. Thousands of people come through this church every week, and most of them go to the gift shop and want to know what time Mass is. When they’re told it was at 7:30 (a.m.), they say, ‘That’s what we came here for. We wanted to go to Mass.”
The cathedral will offer the sacrament of reconciliation daily from 11:30 a.m. to noon, Father Landry said. He said he often hears the confessions of Catholics who have not availed themselves of the sacrament for many years. Some out-of-towners have told him they are visiting New Orleans for a convention and prefer to go to confession to a priest “they don’t know.”
Father Landry said morning Mass attendance has been spotty, and the time change will offer a chance to evangelize to a wider group.
“Archbishop Aymond has been talking about this for awhile, especially as we seek to implement the results of the archdiocesan synod,” Father Landry said. “One of the major things is to evangelize in our communities, and in our particular case, our community is primarily tourists. Mass attendance in the morning has been pretty low. When we do have noon daily Masses during Lent, we’ve had a couple of hundred people.”
Father Landry said the thousands of tourists who visit the cathedral each week see it as “the icon of the city.”
“I often hear people tell me it’s one of the most beautiful churches they’ve ever visited,” he said. “They want to visit and they want to pray here.”
Other than July and August, when overall tourism in New Orleans drops because of the heat and a lull in convention business, the crowds of visitors to the cathedral are huge, Father Landry said.
TV holy hour: Noon to 1 p.m.
The cathedral also has worked with WLAE-TV (Ch. 32) in making the Mass time change. The 12:05 p.m. Mass will be part of a “holy hour” of programming, said archdiocesan communications director Sarah McDonald.
The first five minutes will include a video highlighting a different church in the archdiocese or upcoming archdiocesan events, followed by a brief reflection on the day’s Mass readings. Following Mass, which will be televised live, WLAE will broadcast the rosary and then close with other Catholic programming until 1 p.m.
That entire hour will be rebroadcast the next day from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., McDonald said.
“We know how many viewers like to wake up with Mass because it is such an important part of their day,” McDonald said. “We wanted to make sure we were not taking anything away from them. By doing this, we’ll be able to serve both audiences, the people present at Mass and those at home.”
Father Landry said volunteers offer guided tours of the cathedral throughout the day. Beginning July 1, the cathedral will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“When I came here, I obviously knew the Quarter was the tourist hub for the city, but I’m still amazed at how many thousands of people come to this church every week – Catholic and non-Catholic alike,” Father Landry said. “The midday Mass opens the doors not only to thousands of visitors but also to those who work nearby to encounter Christ on their lunch period. We’re trying to evangelize the people given to us.”
WLAE now high-def on Cox
In other media news, WLAE-TV has moved to Channel 1014 on Cox in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, allowing Cox viewers to experience WLAE programs in high definition.
In addition, WLAE will launch three additional multi-cast channels in standard definition on Cox: MHz on Ch. 130, Catholic TV on Ch. 131 and V-me on Ch. 132.
The Cox channel change means that WLAE will no longer be available on analog Channel 14.
“This means that in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, people who have Cox will be able to view our WLAE programs in high definition,” said WLAE general manager Ron Yager.