Archdiocese of Detroit's 'Mass for Shut-Ins' serves millions of Catholics nationwide

Fr. Mario Amore, administrator of St. Aloysius Parish in downtown Detroit, celebrates Mass at WJBK Fox 2's studios in Southfield during a taping of the “Mass for Shut-Ins” in July. Each Sunday, the televised Mass is shown on Fox affiliates nationwide, plus locally on the Catholic Television Network of Detroit (CTND). (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Airing every week since 1948, Mass taped at Fox 2 studios serves homebound parishioners in every state, plus Canada and Mexico

SOUTHFIELD — Some are homebound because of illness or age. Others are in the hospital. Some are watching with an elderly parent, and still others are using the Mass as additional prayer.

Every Sunday for more than half a century, the Mass for Shut-Ins has provided comfort, hope and healing for up to 2 million souls in southeast Michigan and across North America.

A ministry of the Archdiocese of Detroit's Office of Christian Worship, the Mass for Shut-Ins airs — one could say, religiously — on the Catholic Television Network of Detroit (check here for listings) each Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. 

The Mass began as a radio program in 1921, and in 1948 it moved to television as a live show. Today’s Mass For Shut-Ins is taped live on Saturday mornings at WJBK Fox 2 studios in Southfield. Fox provides the studio and technical support as a public service and at no charge to the archdiocese. The Mass is shown around North America at any Fox station that chooses to air it.

Fr. Mario Amore chats with music ministers and lectors of the Mass for Shut-Ins before a taping in July. Each week, a rotating schedule of priests and lay ministers volunteer to serve the Mass, which is taped Saturdays mornings at Fox 2's studios.

Neil McCormick has been involved with the Mass for 45 years, first as a lector when he was in his late teens. Eventually, he took on the role of coordinator and has devoted his Saturday mornings to the Mass for decades.

McCormick arranges a rotating schedule of those who serve for the Mass. Four priests and one bishop volunteer regularly, as well as six musicians and 25 lectors from 17 parishes around the archdiocese. McCormick also assists as the sacristan and altar server for the Mass as well as caring for the vestments and vessels.

Fr. William Promesso, pastor of St. Cyprian Parish in Riverview, has been a dedicated celebrant for the Mass For Shut-Ins since shortly after his ordination in 1989. He sees the role as an extension of his parish ministry and a way to serve more people around the archdiocese and the larger Church. 

While a televised Mass doesn't replace or fulfill one's Sunday obligation for those who are able to attend, such an obligation is mitigated for those who can’t attend “for a serious reason” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2181) including illness.

Fr. Promesso said it's valuable for those who physically can't attend Mass to be able to participate as fully as possible, and the Mass for Shut-Ins provides that opportunity.

Having a Mass on television for local Catholics with priests, lectors and musicians who are members of their own parishes adds to the familiarity and comfort level, Fr. Promesso added.

Chalices and patens used for the Mass are seen on set.
A monitor displays a recording of the Mass for Shut-Ins. The Mass is a staple for those unable to leave their homes, hospital beds or rehab facilities.

“When you think about our simple Mass For Shut-Ins, I’m amazed at the reach,” Fr. Promesso said. “It’s not only the elderly person who can’t get to their parish on Sunday; it’s the person who watches it as part of their prayer for the day or as ‘Mass prep’ for when they go later.”

Viewers from San Diego, Las Vegas, the Cayman Islands, Canada, and Mexico have expressed gratitude to those who are on-camera in emails and letters, as well as in person when they recognize a lector, priest or musician from the Mass.

Fifteen years ago, Fr. Promesso was checking out at a Target store when a woman at another check-out began yelling his name, then ran over to him in tears, saying, “Father, I’ve been watching you for years and I can’t believe I finally get to meet you in person,” he said. 

Recording a Mass in a studio can bring challenges. The show is recorded live, meaning that if a mistake is made, the lectors, musicians and celebrants can’t stop and try again. McCormick recalls a time when there was a lightning strike in the middle of the consecration, causing the power to go out. As soon as power was restored, they had to start at the exact moment they left off.  

Despite the occasional hiccup, McCormick wouldn’t trade his Saturday routine for anything.  

“I don’t like to travel, so I never miss a Saturday, except when I’ve been sick once every two or three years,” McCormick said. “I’ll never retire. I plan to do this every day until I die. Do you ever stop going to Mass? It’s the center of our lives as Catholics.”

Support the Mass for Shut-Ins

The Mass for Shut-Ins is a ministry of the Archdiocese of Detroit's Office of Christian Worship and is supported via contributions to the Catholic Services Appeal. To donate, or to learn more about the ministries supported by the CSA (including Detroit Catholic), visit