Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.
Those who watch Mass from the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption might recognize the familiar faces of the Cathedral rector, diocesan priests and Cathedral servers — but there’s one face they won’t recognize; one whose ministry is at the altar but nearly 180 feet away from the altar of every recorded Mass — the face behind the camera.
Recording Mass at the Cathedral has been the ministry of the Broering family for around eight years now. It began when Tim Broering, of St. Thomas Parish, Ft. Thomas, was helping re-wire the sound and video system at the Cathedral. An experienced video director, his skills were well known to Msgr. William Neuhaus, his former pastor at St. Thomas and rector of the Cathedral at the time, and associate rector Father Raymond Enzweiler, a childhood friend.
“I’d go over for the occasional thing and the first thing I directed for them was when they had the Diocesan Synod in 2006,” said Mr. Broering. At the time, the Cathedral staff was looking for a new video director. “They asked me to show my sons how to do it.”
From then on, a Broering son has been behind the camera at the Cathedral for every Saturday vigil Mass. John Paul and Joseph Broering served at the post for several years each before going to college and starting a new job, respectively. Mr. Broering’s youngest son, William, is currently working the ministry. Mr. Broering comes in as backup or for complicated ceremonies or concerts such as midnight Mass or ordinations.
The philosophy behind the work is simple: “To give the audience the best seat in the house for whatever is happening at that point in time,” said Mr. Broering.
Mr. Broering has simplified manning the cameras by establishing pre-set shots for particular times during Mass.
“So we pick the camera that’s going to get the best angle that we can and there’s times that you want to frame tighter because that’s what you want the audience to focus on, and there’s times you want a wider shot for more context,” he said.
“I’ve saved a lot of pre-set shots with the camera remote control. You have one person controlling all three cameras, the switcher and the audio, which can be a lot to juggle. It helps to have the controller already memorized with the shots.”
From there, the Broerings can fine-tune the views however they want.
William Broering, a 2020 graduate of Newport Central Catholic High School, Newport, has been recording for about three years now. He appreciates having inherited the family job.
“When (my brothers) went off to college I went in to help pay for my high school tuition,” he said. “Dad taught me on the job and I find it kind of fun.”
He enjoys getting different and beautiful shots, especially to encapsulate special liturgies during Advent and Lent. He’s also filmed ordinations and weddings.
“I arrive early to set up, and I stay later after Mass to pad things out for channel 5,” he said. At this point, he’s got more experience than most 18-year-olds with videography.
The reason? “I like being able to send it to people who can’t make it, like if they’re hospitalized or sick, or can’t leave their house,” he said.
The Cathedral Basilica staff started recording Mass after the 2000–2002 renovations. When they remodeled, they put in remote control cameras and a small studio rack for switching and directing those. They also purchased time on MeTV WLWT, which broadcasts the Mass to channel 5. Funding for the weekly broadcast is underwritten through the generosity of St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
In May 2018, Father Ryan Maher, vicar general and Cathedral rector, made the decision to upgrade the system to HD, which includes the ability to live stream. Now, the Broerings’ ministry includes a computer-based studio with video and audio and transmitting the video directly to channel 5. It also streams on Vimeo and can be found anytime on the Cathedral or diocesan websites.
“We had no idea of course at the time when we upgraded the cameras and equipment and installed high speed internet for live streaming that we would need to rely on the new technology so much during this current pandemic,” said Father Maher. “It is a true blessing that we can not only live stream and broadcast the Sunday Mass but also other celebrations including ordinations, holy hours and the Holy Week services.”
“I think that upgrading the system to HD this last year really put them in a much better position for what they’re doing now and the needs they’re trying to fill with that,” said Mr. Broering. “When this all started happening they had everything in place.”
The Mass broadcast usually assists 30-40 families per weekend who are unable to physically attend Mass.
“In the course of the year we receive a number of notes from people who are so grateful to be able to participate in Mass through the television broadcast especially,” shared Father Maher. “Sometimes we forget that not everyone has internet access or the ability to watch online.”
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent suspension of public participation in Masses, views shot up to over 1,000.
“You really see that the capability of having the better system and the ability to stream have really put them in a position to try to help make sure people can attend Mass remotely and keep connected to the faith,” said Mr. Broering. “We’ve got 1000 people watching, and we don’t know how many more are watching on channel 5, as well as on Vimeo replays.”
“I’ve often thought wouldn’t it be great if our Catholic faith took advantage of the media more often to try to help spread the faith,” he said. With COVID-19, the media is more useful than ever, and Mr. Broering has enjoyed seeing the Church rise to the occasion of using media to serve others.
The Broerings service doesn’t go unnoticed by those at the Cathedral.
“I am extremely grateful to the Broering family for their generosity in providing the live streaming and recording of our Sunday Masses,” said Bishop Roger Foys. “Without them we would not be able to provide this much-needed and much-appreciated service to our faithful. I cannot thank them enough.”
“I am very grateful to Tim and his sons for their dedicated and faithful service over these years to ministry of the Mass broadcast,” said Father Maher. “For them, I know that it is a labor of love that flows from their faith in the Lord. They are able to use their gifts and talents to serve behind the scenes, as it were, in this most important ministry.”
“Directing shows is something I’ve done for a while and when it comes together well and Mass looked good on air, it’s something that you take pride in,” said Mr. Broering.