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Archdiocese begins livestreaming cathedral liturgies

June 8, 2017
Tom Burke

Live from St. Mary’s Cathedral debuted April 6 with the livestreaming of the annual chrism Mass from the cathedral. Livestreaming of all liturgies of Holy Week and Mass Easter Sunday followed.

“We will stream all archdiocesan liturgies at which the archbishop presides, and other events from time to time,” said Jan Potts, assistant director of communications for the archdiocese and leader on the streaming project.

Broadcast events are stored and kept available on the archdiocesan YouTube channel; the May 12 funeral Mass for Archbishop George Niederauer among them.

“More than a thousand people, many from his former Diocese of Salt Lake City, have watched Archbishop Niederauer’s funeral online,” Potts said, noting most of the video views are after the fact. “On Easter Sunday we had a call from a 93-year-old woman who was homebound and heard about the livestream; it was a joy to be able to help her find that online.”

Archbishop Cordileone asked that the livestreaming be put into place, Potts said. “Livestreaming is becoming a standard for archdioceses in the United States, and even many dioceses and parishes,” she said.

It has not been without its challenges. “The cathedral is a stunning building; the beautiful sound and sights one experiences in person do not always come through on video,” Potts said. “We are working on improving the lighting and adding some microphones that will not affect the live experience but will improve the taped one.”

All systems remain go on the project and the team is thankful the system works as intended, Potts said. “One of the benefits is that the archbishop’s cathedral homilies are now recorded and shared as mp3 files, which has been a goal for a long time,” she said. The homilies can be accessed at www.sfarch.org/homilies.

The final product was built from the ground up.

“The cathedral did not have high-speed internet, which is necessary for livestreaming, because it was not offered in the area until recently,” Potts said. “So there was quite a bit of engineering and installation work to do. The cathedral facilities staff and docents worked with us and the vendor to make this a reality. They deserve a lot of thanks.”

All feeds are added to the Archdiocese of San Francisco website, www.sfarch.org, a few days before it takes place, Potts said, such as the link for the June 10 ordination to the priesthood Mass. The ordination of deacons rite was live streamed May 20. People can also subscribe to the YouTube channel and be notified of any livestreaming. Click the YouTube icon at the top of the webpage.

“We are building a team of volunteers to supplement the archdiocesan staff on this project,” Potts said. “Anyone over the age of 18 who has experience as a professional or hobbyist in this arena is welcome to consider this form of service – a wonderful evangelization tool. We’ll be doing training in June.”

Contact Jan Potts for more information at pottsj@sfarch.org.

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