There is gathering at St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls that brings many of us together. Men and women of all ages, many of them strangers, become family every Sunday morning.
"God's love is there for everyone to share," Bishop Paul Swain said.
That is also true for the people who cannot set foot on the Cathedral's marble floors or sit in its wooden pews. That includes Lois Thuringer.
"You know what, I've got to tell you this, I have nine children, you know. Six boys and three girls," Thuringer said in her apartment, surrounded by photos of her children and grandchildren. "But I'll tell you what, now I got nine parents. Tell me how to handle that one."
It sounds like a full house, but family has helped this senior citizen during the last six months. Her children are taking good care of her as she recovers from a stroke she had in June.
"I'm pleased with myself. I've got a ways to go," Thuringer said.
Though she is healing physically, she said there is spiritual care she needs. She is not able to get out of her apartment as much as she used to, meaning she does not get to St. Joseph for Sunday mass. Even so, equipped with a remote and sizeable HD TV, she never misses a service. In her chair, holding her Rosary, she sits and worships in her living room. Giving access to mass via television or online is an extension of the church.
"This isn't a museum. This is a living, dynamic place, to the extent we can share it through technology to those who aren't able to get here. We try to do that," Bishop Swain said.
Bishop Swain considers these broadcasts an important piece of restoring the cathedral, which took several years, and brought an elegant beauty back to St. Joseph. Through technology, the sick, elderly and the ones who cannot make it to church, for whatever reason, have the same access to God as everyone else. It gives viewers a restoration of their own.
"I think it helps a lot. It did me, anyway. Having that spiritual contact with God to help me through this and help me through the bad days. When you're feeling down, you say a prayer and ask for God's help," Thuringer said.
"What faith encourages is hope, and that's what people particularly with challenges of human faculties; all the things going on. Hope is what gets us through the tough things," Swain said.
Prayer becomes a production, which you can see in a master control room. Cameras, video screens and pretty much every button and lever you can imagine play key roles in how the staff broadcasts the service every week. The Diocese estimates thousands of people in the area tune in to see the televised show.
"I go to the grocery store and one of the clerks - 'Boy, I watch you on television every week.' It's a beautiful thing," Swain said.
Every week, a gathering brings people together at St. Joseph Cathedral. However, you do not have to be inside of the building to be a part of the family.
"Pope Francis has encouraged us to go out into the community. This is one way we can go out into the community," Swain said.
Thuringer knows this is so.
"(I) try to follow along the best I can. You know, you're here by yourself," Thuringer said.
That may be true, but thanks to technology - even if you are by yourself in your apartment, rather than a cathedral - you're not alone.
Christmas at the Cathedral, which runs December 19-22, will air on KELO-TV at 6:30 Christmas evening. There are a few seats left for some performances. To get tickets you can call 1-888-246-3386 or go to the Catholic Foundation for Eastern South Dakota website.