Mass media: Philly archdiocese reaching larger flock through Facebook Live

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 Dan Kerns operates robotic cameras at the 'cathedral control room,' located behind the altar. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Dan Kerns operates robotic cameras at the 'cathedral control room,' located behind the altar. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is venturing into social media to engage with followers who don’t come to worship in person. 

More and more, it’s video of high-profile Masses on Facebook Live, said spokesman Ken Gavin.

“It started about a month ago,” he said. Archbishop Charles Chaput “was at an interfaith prayer service about the vandalism at the Jewish cemeteries, and we put it up with an iPhone and had a couple of thousand hits.”

The Holy Thursday Mass of the Chrism attracted a large audience, he said.

“We had over 20,000 views from all over the world — Saudi Arabia, Canada, all over the United States,” Gavin said. “And they are telling us they are here, but they are also joining prayerfully in the Mass and the comments.”

The Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul has a multi-camera high-definition video system that was installed just before the papal visit.

Similar to televising services, the church is using the video streams to reach people who otherwise would not show up, but Gavin said it’s not a substitute for coming in person.

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