A new home for CatholicTV

WATERTOWN -- After more than a decade of planning, CatholicTV in Boston has found its own home, which puts the station in a “moment of tremendous promise,” said director Father Robert Reed. The relocation from rental space in Newton to a renovated convent on the grounds of St. Patrick Parish in Watertown is the first step in a wider expansion, Father Reed said.

Around 100 CatholicTV employees, benefactors and friends gathered outside the new Msgr. Francis T. McFarland Television Center for the dedication on June 26.

“We are essentially rewriting the book for the use of television and media in this great archdiocese and throughout the entire Church,” Father Reed told the crowd. “This building you see and the dazzling array of technology it will contain, is a truly modern well-equipped television facility to match our very creative crew.”

Father Reed thanked all CatholicTV employees who work to draw people closer to Christ and everyone who worked tirelessly on the renovation.

“Our presence here in Watertown and on the Internet, commits us to helping people of all ages to remain connected to Christ through the Church,” he said, urging Catholics to visit their Web site, www.CatholicTV.com.

“This is your Catholic television station. It’s all for you,” he added, employing the station’s slogan.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley was not able to attend because he was in Rome, but he sent a letter that was read to those present.

“I had planned for several months to be with you today for the dedication of this new television center,” he said. “Please know that I am with you in spirit at the heart of the Church in Rome at St. Peter’s.”

The cardinal promised his prayers for the station, which he hopes will be an instrument of the new evangelization. He thanked Father Reed for his enthusiastic commitment to reach out to a new generation of viewers.

Bishops Walter Edyvean and John Dooher led the group in prayer and the dedication of the new center.

Bishop Edyvean said, “The wonders of technology, such as television and the Internet, if used properly, can be a great service to the human family, not only to bring help in times of need but also as resources for education and entertainment even for spreading and building up the kingdom of God.”

The bishop then sprinkled the building with holy water and prayed, “Bless this new television and media center -- that those who labor here now and through the years will make full use of this great resource to comfort and support, to connect people to the Church, to cheerfully proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns forever and ever.”

After the blessing, Father Reed and his predecessor who chose the Watertown site for CatholicTV, Msgr. Paul McInerny, cut the ribbon strung across the main entrance and everyone was invited inside to tour the new building.

Upon entering the front door, visitors see a picture of St. Therese of Lisieux, patron saint of CatholicTV. To the left is a conference room with pictures of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal O’Malley. To the right is a large receptionist desk with a crucifix hanging on the wall behind it.

The chapel is also located on the first floor, and the two studios are in the basement. Also downstairs is the control room, dedicated to the memory of Msgr. Walter Flaherty, first director of CatholicTV. A second conference room and office space is located on the second floor and, for now, the third floor remains unused. Jay Fadden, the station’s general manager, said that the space will be rented out.

Fadden said that CatholicTV has been searching throughout the Archdiocese of Boston for a new home for more than 10 years. In that time, other sites were considered but none met the needs of the station.

The convent in Watertown was a perfect fit, especially because it had a beautiful chapel. Currently, the televised Mass is filmed in the basement of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, he said.

The convent was also an old building and needed a significant amount of renovation to house a television station. Workers snaked 50 miles of cables through the walls and installed equipment, he said.

Equipment, sets and lights were gradually moved to the new building, and on June 1 several staff members began working full time at the facility. The rest of the crew will make the move in the coming week, the live signal will move by July 15, the Mass will be broadcast from Watertown by Aug. 1, and the studios will be used for filming in mid-September. CatholicTV is working to make the relocation a seamless transition, he said.

Fadden praised the leadership of CatholicTV, saying that Msgr. McInerny and Father Reed have worked tirelessly to see the project to fruition.

“Both Msgr. McInerny and Father Reed have understood the importance of constructing this building and their leadership and dedication has made it possible to make it the finest Catholic television station in the world,” he added.

Currently, CatholicTV is available in 170 cities and towns in Massachusetts as well as areas in Louisiana, Ohio, California, New York, Florida and Michigan. The station also receives e-mails from around the world, including China, he said.

Father Reed said that as a priest who previously served in parishes, he understands that the station points parishioners to their local Church.

“We don’t exist here for ourselves,” he said. “We exist to bring people back to their parishes, to bring them closer to the community that they experience the presence of the Lord Jesus.”

Father Reed added that the station is blessed to now have a studio chapel with the Blessed Sacrament.

Jane Giordano, a receptionist for CatholicTV for the last nine years, called the expansion “visionary.”

“I’m so excited having a home of our own,” she said. “It’s a wonderful group of people to work with.”