By Jim Bryan
John Paul II Catholic Church
If you had attended any Mass at Pope John Paul II prior to mid-2017, you might have thought “Gene! Gene! Gene!” was part of the liturgy.
However, it was merely Father Kenny’s weekly plea to poor Gene Tautges, always seen running around during Mass, doing his best to correct the horrible audio in the church.
Try as he might, Tautges was caught in a no-win situation, working with a system that simply couldn’t deliver good audio to the congregation with the equipment he had to work with. Let alone, he did his best to make constant adjustments to accommodate a pastor whose Nigerian accent made it even tougher for people in the pews to understand anything.
It makes you wonder how many beautiful sermons were simply never heard and appreciated?
And our choir? One of the finest musical ensembles in the state sounded like they were singing through the tin cans and string we used to play with as kids.
People were frustrated, angry and even staying home instead of attending Mass.
It was a bad situation that wasn’t getting any better, until two new parishioners moved to Pagosa who were willing to help.
In early 2017, fate (or a miracle) brought Jim Bryan, from Honolulu, and John DeMarco, from Atlanta, to our parish within weeks of each other. Combined, they had nearly 80 years of broadcast audio/video engineering experience to share.
And, after both Bryan and DeMarco sat in the pews long enough to suffer through the terrible audio and sympathizing with “Gene! Gene! Gene!,” they were more than willing to roll up their sleeves and help.
In the months ahead, add the carpentry skills of Giuseppe Margiotta and the dedicated labor of our Knights of Columbus. Then, throw in decades of computer experience from another new parishioner, Jim Field, and we were on our way to creating something special.
Fast forward three years and the Pope John Paul II sanctuary now has a brand new, state-of-the-art Bose sound system, as well as a high-definition TV network that not only supplies live video streaming of Masses over the Internet, but also gives the parish a complete closed-circuit television station that provides a live signal to TVs in the Narthex, Chapel, Pavilion and all the new addition classrooms whenever needed.
Oh, and we forgot to mention our own radio station, FM 101.1, that broadcasts all Pope John Paul II daily and Sunday Masses over the radio within range of the parish.
And, a completely new sound system for our magnificent choir.
And, an eight-camera HD security system throughout the Pope John Paul II property.
And, a new organ donated by a former pastor, Father Carlos Alvarez, in exchange for work our A/V team did to improve the audio system at his parish in Grand Junction.
And, a two-way outdoor audio system that was built to allow our parish to have 200 people attending Mass in the Pope John Paul II parking lot during the height of the pandemic when other parishes were limited to 10 people indoors.
And — well, a lot more that most parishioners don’t even realize day-to-day, because our A/V ministry just keeps making improvements every chance they get, whenever there’s a need.
All of this new technology must have cost our parish a fortune. Wrong.
Over the past three years, it has all been done for less than $1,000 cost to our parish due to over $50,000 of generously donated equipment and labor from members of our A/V team, our Knights of Columbus and some kind broadcasting friends from around the USA who kicked in to help when asked.
Designated a parish “ministry” in 2019 by Father Kenny, our A/V team is now seven members strong and always looking for more help. You don’t need to be an engineer, either — just someone willing to learn a few basic skills and share your time and talent in a very rewarding role in our parish family.
What’s ahead for the A/V team?
1. Rebuilding the sound system at Immaculate Heart of Mary in both the sanctuary and choir loft.
2. Updating and adding new Bose equipment to the current system at Pope John Paul II.
3. Exploring the addition of a Bluetooth audio system that will allow the hearing impaired to hear Mass in the pews through their own hearing aids or through earbuds plugged into their own smartphones.
For information on how you can help, please contact Bryan at 731-1812 or ChromoJim@gmail.com.
Or, just stop by our A/V station at the back of the church after any Mass and let us know you might be interested.
Or, just yell, “Gene! Gene! Gene!”