U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be able to celebrate a special Christmas Eve Mass courtesy of a sympathetic bishop, a South Jersey church and a Philadelphia television station.
A unit of a soldiers based in an isolated area of Afghanistan were without a military chaplain. So Parishioners of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Gibbsboro had already "adopted" the unit. Parishioners reached out to NBC 10 to see if the station might simulcast the Mass, said an NBC spokesman.
One problem. The earliest a Christmas Eve Mass can be celebrated in a Roman Catholic church is 4 p.m. But the time Afghanistan is 9.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Christmas Eve Mass would, in effect, be broadcast at 1:30 a.m. Christmas Day in Afghanistan. And that would make for a very late night for the troops.
St. Andrew's Monsignor Louis A. Marucci approached church officials in Camden. Granting St. Andrews special permission, Bishop Joseph Galante allowed Marucci to move up the Mass to 2 p.m. EST. Problem solved.
With five cameras and three production trucks, NBC 10 will video stream the Mass live to the troops on nbcphiladelphia.com and on cable channel NBC Philadelphia Nonstop.
"This is an incredible opportunity for us to give back to the military men and women serving our country overseas at this special time of year." said Jim Barger, Vice President of Broadcast Operations and Engineering at NBC 10. "If we hadn't been contacted by St. Andrews, we wouldn't have known there was a need. We're thrilled to collaborate with them and so pleased we can make this happen."