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Pope Francis on the big screen in Dublin parishes

By Cian Molloy - 24 August, 2018

Several Dublin parishes are organising special screenings of Sunday’s Papal Mass for those who cannot make it to the live event in the Phoenix Park.

RTÉ and Church Services TV have teamed up to stream the event over the internet following a suggestion made by Fr Fergal McDonagh, PP of Dolphin’s Barn, who was looking for a way of screening the Mass in Our Lady of Dolours Church.

“A lot of the regulars at our daily Mass would love to go to the Phoenix Park, but even though we are in Dublin 8, the same postal district as the Phoenix Park, and even though we are within the cordoned off area, the walk to the site of the Papal Mass would be too much for many of them.”

When he learned that many were planning on watching the Mass at home alone, Fr McDonagh asked if they would prefer to watch it together in their parish church if a large screen could be organised.

“They were delighted with the idea,” said the parish priest. “They’ll be able to have communion here at the same time as Pope Francis is distributing the Eucharist and afterwards we can all have a nice cup of tea and a bit of cake before going home.”

When Fr Paul StJohn, PP in Walkinstown, heard what his colleague was doing, he decided to do the same at the Church of the Assumption. “We haven’t set the equipment up yet, but it seems like an easy enough process,” he said. “Of course there are people who will want to watch the event on their own at home, but there are quite a few who would like to watch as part of a group, as part of a community. I believe Ringsend parish are trying to organise a screening there too.”

Tony Bolger, founding director of Church Services TV, says it’s quite easy to set up a screening. All that is needed is a laptop, a digital projector, a large screen and a reasonably good sound system. “Anyone can access the live feed from the Phoenix Park via the link https://www.churchservices.tv/pope2018 and it doesn’t take much technical know-how to project the feed onto a big screen,” he said. “That link will also work for people who are on the move and who would like to watch the Papal Mass on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.”

While RTÉ is the host broadcaster for Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland, the national television broadcaster is also sharing live feeds freely with other networks and media organisations. The station’s head of religious programming, Roger Childs, said: “In making this content available to people to view in their home parishes, Churchservices.tv is providing valuable complementary access, and RTÉ is delighted to be able to facilitate the service.”

Mr Bolger pointed out that Churchservice.tv has a huge overseas audience, with 15 million people in 205 countries using the service to view church services broadcast from parishes across Ireland and the UK. He said: “In the case of this Sunday’s Papal Mass, in some countries, our link will be the only way of accessing coverage of the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families 2018.”

In Dolphin’s Barn, Fr McDonagh said: “I am expecting at least a hundred people to turn up here, maybe even more than two hundred. There are several good reasons for organising a showing of the Papal Mass in the parish church. It’s not just access to the Phoenix Park. The weather is a factor too. In fact, I asked one of our parishioners, David, a man in eighties, if he was joining us on Sunday and he said he certainly was because he doesn’t own a TV.”

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