When public Masses were suspended starting March 14, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s radio and television team found their workload increasing. The three-person team has been recording and streaming five daily Masses and three Sunday Masses each week, as well as continuing to produce radio shows from the studio at the Archbishop Quigley Center, 835 N. Rush St. That means that they are, in effect, the only in-person congregation for the daily Masses recorded in the St. James Chapel at the Quigley Center and the Sunday Masses in English, Spanish and Polish recorded at Holy Name Cathedral. “My biggest challenge is not to give the responses out loud,” said Michael May, television engineer specialist, who operates a camera directly in front of the sanctuary during the Masses. “So I respond in my head. It’s hard, because without any congregation in there, the priest is looking right at me.” That perspective is what helps people at home feel like Mass is being celebrated in their living rooms. While May operates the close camera, multimedia technology specialist Brian Brach operates the control box, tucked away in the choir loft at St. James Chapel or off to the side at Holy Name Cathedral. Radio and television director Jim Disch helps cue the celebrant and keeps things moving, especially for Sunday Mass, which has to come in at 29 minutes and 30 seconds to fit the broadcast windows offered by ABC-7 TV, Univision and Polvision (hourlong slots for Palm Sunday and Easter). The stations are offering the timeslots commercial-free and without cost, Disch said. The first week, the team went to the chapel each day to livestream the 10 a.m. Mass; by the second week, they had streamlined the process, coming in Tuesday to livestream the 10 a.m. Mass and record the Masses to be posted to the archdiocesan YouTube channel on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, they come in and livestream the 10 a.m. daily Mass and record the Monday daily Mass. Then they pack up some of the equipment (the cameras stay up in the chapel) and move to the cathedral to record the Sunday Masses. They also record a week’s worth of radio shows on those days, May said. There have been technical challenges, including that when they started, there was no internet connection in the choir loft of the chapel at Quigley. “Luckily, I recently moved into a new house and just happened to come across 2,000 feet of ethernet cable,” Brach said. “That allowed me to make a long run to our high-speed internet port three floors down.” Part of Brach’s role is to make sure the video and sound is captured cleanly, that it gets posted to both YouTube and Facebook, and gets recorded on another laptop as a backup. But where he finds the most meaning is reading the comments that come in during the livestream. “This entire virus situation has actually been eye-opening for me,” Brach said. “I always knew the Mass was important to people but with things being the way they are right now we are bringing a vital ministry to people. From my position, I can see the comments posted on the live chat and it’s very common for people to do the responses, ask for prayer intentions and basically treat it as if they are at Mass. People have been very outspoken about how much they appreciate what we are doing and how it’s keeping them connected to their faith.” May said he got an email from a religious sister saying her community gathers around a computer to watch the daily Mass at 10 a.m. each day. “It’s the only way they can go to Mass now,” he said. Daily Masses are posted on the archdiocesan website, YouTube and Facebook and are available at least until the next daily Mass is posted. Sunday Masses are posted at 4 p.m. Saturday and remain available at least until the next Sunday Mass is posted.