NBC 10 Philadelphia is rushing to set up a live stream that will grant a Christmas wish from soldiers based in an isolated area of Afghanistan.

St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Gibbsboro, N.J. has “adopted” a military unit. The religious among the soldiers asked for spiritual guidance, not knowing how to celebrate the Christmas Mass without a military chaplain. Kathy Emrich, a St. Andrew’s parishioner and the church’s pastoral coordinator of public relations, realized that technology could come to the rescue and contacted NBC 10 to see if the station could assist.

Indeed, NBC 10 could. It marshaled five cameras, three production trucks and the relevant crew, and will be simulcasting a special Christmas Eve Mass live from St. Andrews on and NBC Philadelphia Nonstop, the station’s digital channel.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to give back to the military men and women serving our country overseas at this special time of year.” said Jim Barger, vice president of Broadcast Operations and Engineering at NBC 10. “If we hadn’t been contacted by St. Andrews, we wouldn’t have known there was a need. We’re thrilled to collaborate with them and so pleased we can make this happen.”

The idea presented a challenge of a non-technical kind as well. NBC’s Olympics coverage has its own time-zone issues, but the Catholic Church has schedules too. Under its doctrines, Christmas Eve Mass cannot be celebrated before 4 p.m. Technology couldn’t help with this one, but Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden, N.J. was able to grant special permission to hold a special service two hours earlier, which will be 11:30 pm in Afghanistan.

“NBC 10 should be commended for their immediate response and their ongoing support of the troops,” said St. Andrew’s Reverend Monsignor Louis A. Marucci. “In addition, they should be commended for their support of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish efforts to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of our soldiers, especially at this special time of year.”

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Photo by Flickr user aussiegall, used under Creative Commons license