By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register
[TORONTO – Canadian Catholic News] – If going to Sunday morning Mass seems tantalizingly near and yet far during COVID-19 restrictions, as you watch your parish struggle to produce a weekly liturgy on Facebook or YouTube, imagine what it has been like for kids to be told to sit quietly and watch a TV Mass.
Salt and Light Media Foundation wants to rescue kids from those painful Sunday mornings, and they’ve enlisted a musical family of nine kids, plus mom and dad, to put something a little more dynamic on the screen. Yes, Lord is a liturgy of the word designed for kids. It is broadcasting on weekends throughout Lent on Salt + Light TV, its website (slmedia.org) and the Salt and Light Media YouTube channel.
“Had there not been COVID, this project would not have happened,” said Yes, Lord producer Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann.
It began with a letter from eight-year-old Joe, who complained of how boring Mass on TV was for him and wondered why something couldn’t be done specifically for children. That sounded perfectly sensible to Guevara-Mann, except that it would need to be musical, it would need multiple contributors and if it’s for children it would have to have children in it. Gathering that many people together, along with a camera, sound and lighting crew, seemed unwise while everyone is still locked down.
But what if the cast of characters were all from one family?
As it happens, Alex and Miriam Duketow of Lakefield, Ont., have nine kids, four to 19 years. And they all sing, dance and play instruments.
“The musicians are all the kids. They have piano, bass, violin, tin whistle. It’s all kids playing and Dad playing the guitar,” said Guevara-Mann.
Alex Duketow wrote the theme song and seven more singable pieces for the show. A few more songs often included in children’s liturgies will be familiar to many families.
Animated characters and the words of readings and songs scrolling across the screen make it easy for kids to follow along, sing along and practice their reading. The first reading and Gospel each week are taken from the Sunday Mass, so that kids are praying along with the whole Church. But by making it a liturgy of the word, the 20-minute show is free to tailor its prayers and activities to the target audience of five- to 10-year-olds.
“We have so much richness in our tradition in terms of prayer, but people think that all we can do as Catholics is Mass,” said Guevara-Mann.
The Lenten programs will function as a sort of pilot for something that could eventually span the full three-year cycle of Sunday Mass readings.
The Lenten Yes, Lord pilot will build toward Palm Sunday, beginning with broadcasts the weekend of Feb. 19 (for the First Sunday of Lent). Kids who follow along throughout Lent will be ready, from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday, to participate fully in Holy Week.
“Hopefully, by then they will be able to go to Mass,” Guevara-Mann said.
“Every week follows up on what we did the week before. Every week there’s an activity. The activities build on each other until we get to Palm Sunday.”
The first broadcast each weekend is Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. Guevara-Mann also hopes teachers take note. “They could actually use it in the classroom,” he said.