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 was without a military chaplain. Parishioners of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Gibbsboro, which had already "adopted" the unit, asked NBC10 whether the station might simulcast the Mass, a station spokesman said.

One problem: The earliest a Christmas Eve Mass can be celebrated in a Roman Catholic church is 4 p.m. But the time in Afghanistan is 91/2 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Christmas Eve Mass would thus be broadcast at 1:30 a.m. Christmas Day in Afghanistan. In response to a request by Msgr. Louis A. Marucci of St. Andrew, Bishop Joseph Galante of the Camden Archdiocese allowed Marucci to move up the Mass to 2 p.m. Philadelphia time.

NBC10 will stream video of the Mass live to the troops on nbcphiladelphia.com and on cable channel NBC Philadelphia Nonstop. - Inquirer staff