WASHINGTON (June 21, 1999) -- Catholics traveling the United States have a simple way of including Mass attendance on Sundays and holy days in their travel plans. 1-800-Mass Times uses an 800-number and a Web site to provide the times and locations for celebrating Mass around the country. The Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) will now assist in publicizing this service.
In making the announcement, St. Petersburg Bishop Robert N. Lynch, chairman of the United States Catholic Conference Committee for Communications, said, "In his recent letter on the Lord's Day, Pope John Paul II reminded Catholics of the importance of Sunday Mass observance. 1-800-Mass Times provides a practical way for traveling Catholics to celebrate Mass on Sundays and holy days. It is a real service with which the CCC is happy to be associated." The Communications Committee oversees the CCC.
1-800-Mass Times Trust was founded by Robert Hummel based on his own experience as a traveling Catholic. It is supported, as it will continue to be, by the Perpetual Help Foundation which Mr. Hummel founded with his wife Phyllis. Legal ownership of the Trust belongs to the Archdiocese of Miami. The service is free of charge.
Mr. Hummel said that he was interested in a partnership with the CCC as a way of getting the message out about 1-800-Mass Times. With very little promotion, as many as 100,000 people have used the service in the course of a year.
"I hope that with the cooperation of the Catholic Communication Campaign, both the Catholic press and the diocesan communications offices will become more familiar with 1-800-Mass Times and help spread the word. This service is very compatible with the CCC's own toll free movie line which helps families to select appropriate films for viewing," Mr. Hummel added.
1-800-Mass Times now lists weekend Mass times for more than 80 percent of U.S. churches, weekday schedules for more than 50 percent, and Mass times for holy days of obligation for almost 45 percent. The data provided by 1-800-Mass Times includes instructions for locating the church nearest to the caller's location, the language in which services are offered, and handicapped access. The Web site (www.Masstimes.org) provides a map option to view a local street map to find the church's location.
To assist those who have difficulty with touch-tone telephone operations, a "live operator" option is being added this year. It will be bilingual in English and Spanish.
Parishes are sent a postcard each year to confirm their listed information. There is an option for reporting updates or incorrect listings through the Web site, as well as by e-mail, fax, mail, or toll call. About 7,500 changes are posted each year.
The CCC will include information about 1-800-Mass Times in all its promotional material to increase its visibility, encourage cooperation by Catholic dioceses, and remind the Catholic public of its availability.