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A detailed history of Mass For You At Home is currently being compiled - if you ever worked on the Mass or, especially, have any photos from years ago please get in touch with us (Contact button on the left side). The history below will be expanded and the names and dates from earlier years will be added as information becomes available.

Mass for You At Home first went to air in August of 1971. Fr Michael King was its original celebrant and he was later assisted by Fr Brian Bainbridge as the producer. The mass was broadcast from Channel 0 in Nunawading, Victoria and was originally only viewed by audiences in Melbourne. Fr Michael?s vision was that the Mass would be able to be viewed by people at home in such a way that they saw themselves as the primary congregation. A lot of other religious services have a large congregation and the TV audience is left watching people worship rather than be involved in the worship themselves. This spirit of the Mass is maintained today using just a small group of people to voice the responses while the audience at home joins in.
Fr Michael King
Fr Michael King

Fr Michael Casey preparing for Sunday Magazine assisted by Geoff Spencer, the director.
In 1971 the Mass was broadcast live at 11am. In those days every television station was required by legislation to broadcast a certain amount of religious material. This task was overseen by Catholic Communications in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. From the same source came Sunday Magazine with Fr Michael Casey on Channel 7. Fr Casey is still a regular celebrant on Mass For You At Home having started in 1987. Two other priests have been working on the Mass for almost the whole of its history: Fr Geoff Baron and Fr Peter Matheson. Fr Matheson remembers: "I first was invited to help Michael King with a couple of TV Masses back in 1972. At that time I was the young wet-behind-the-ears curate at St Mary?s Geelong where Shirley Carroll was the Saturday Parish secretary. Shirley was secretary to Michael King at Catholic Radio and TV in the James Knox centre. She and Agnes Orlebar did much of the leg work in those days. I kept up doing the odd TV Masses through the 70?s until I was sent to Rome in 1979 for Doctoral study."

Other producers over the 1980s were Fr Peter Slattery, Fr Shane O?Connor O Carm and Paul McMahon. In 1989 Jeffrey Hobbs took over the role of organising the Mass ?Jeff has continued in this position since then. Over a great deal of the early years of Mass For You At Home Archbishop Frank Little put in a huge effort of personal time to make sure that the Mass was supported by the Archdiocese and the wider community. One of Jeff Hobbs' fondest memories of Mass was a midnight Christmas Eve Mass when Archbishop Little sat in the middle of a life size crib and reached out to hold the hand of the baby Jesus as he reflected on what it would be like to be there at that moment in history.

Jeff Hobbs with long serving cameraman Mark Lindsay

Over the years the production of the Mass has become a lot more complex ?it now uses five cameras instead of the one used in 1971. Video footage, visual backgrounds, signing by Auslan signers and a variety of musical settings all make the Mass a program which fits into the technical settings of the early 21st century while still remaining true to the liturgy which has grown over the centuries.

Throughout this time both the Archdiocese of Melbourne and Channel 10 (originally Channel 0) have shown a firm commitment to the continuation of the broadcast of the Mass. Slowly the ?to air?time has drifted from 11am to its current 6am and there have been a few occasions when the Mass has not been broadcast on a Sunday morning in all areas due to car races or golf but, generally speaking, its showing has been continuous since August of 1971 making it the longest running program on commercial television in Australia (both Playschool and Four Corners on ABC have a longer history.)

In his book From the Word Go!! Forty Years of Ten Melbourne 1964-2004 which outlines the history of Channel 0/10 in Melbourne, Mal Waldon, Melbourne?s newsreader says of Mass For You At Home: ?We may well be celebrating 40 years of Ten Melbourne (in 2004) but there are few programs in the world of television that can boast more than 30 years of continual broadcast.?/FONT>

Suzanne assisting Fr Michael Elligate with his vestments

Behind the scenes in a more administrative role has been the Executive Producers and the teams at Catholic Communications, Melbourne and later Albert Street Productions and Rowland Productions. Originally Fr Michael King oversaw all aspects of the Mass but as it, and the world, became more complex the team grew. A number of people took on the role of Executive Producer after Fr King. This role was eventually taken over by Peter Thomas. As well as being the head of Catholic Communications he and others set up a production company known as Albert Street Productions. Albert Street Productions aims to bring a sense of spirituality and social justice to television and documentaries and has produced many shows for all networks which have explored issues, both Catholic and under a wider spiritual banner.

Fr Peter Matheson - one of the longest serving priests on MFYAH
The installation of Archbishop (now Cardinal) Pell saw the restructuring of a lot of Melbourne?s Catholic organisations including Catholic Communications. Peter Thomas moved to dedicating his time to Albert Street Productions and, with him, the administration of the Mass moved to that organisation. The Archdiocese of Melbourne continued its financial and, more importantly, spiritual support of the program. A great deal of support is also offered by a number of religious orders throughout Australia through their involvement with Albert Street Productions. Since Peter?s retirement two others have been in the role as executive producers: Moya Iceton and currently John Rowland. Both have brought new ideas and initiatives to the way the Mass is presented and organised. Albert Street Productions ceased to exist in 2012 and John Rowland has continued his commitment to this program through Roland Productions. The life of Mass For You At Home is always uncertain as we look to the future - costs escalate and there are times when it seems that such a program has "had its day" but the number of responses from viewers and the encouraging ratings figures show us that there is still a vibrant and wide audience who rely on the program for so many reasons. We thank you for your support over the years.