By Barb Arland-Fye
NEWTON — Viewers of “60 Minutes” on CBS will catch a glimpse of Mass being celebrated at Sacred Heart Parish during the program’s broadcast this Sunday, Oct. 31. But Sacred Heart parishioners may have to watch the show later if they’re planning to attend the All Saints, All Souls Remembrance service that will be held at the same time as the TV program: 6 p.m. Sunday.
“60 Minutes” was in Newton last week to talk with community and business leaders and other individuals about what’s happened to Newton since its major manufacturer — Whirlpool — left town several years ago and the recession hit.
Sacred Heart parishioner Dave McNeer, who with his wife, Sandra, owns Newton-based Maxim Advertising, was among the business leaders that “60 Minutes” interviewed. Whirlpool and the company it bought, Maytag, were major advertising clients of Maxim Advertising. The loss of these huge manufacturers had a ripple effect on the community, he added.
“We did a lot of business with Maytag; it was three-quarters of our business,” said McNeer, who decided to diversify so the company wasn’t dependent on one major account. Still, the Whirlpool account represented about 30 percent of Maxim’s business by the time it shuttered the industrial complex, he added.
His thriving business, which once employed 22 people, had to scale back quickly and endure some bleak financial years. Now things are improving, business is up and he’s employing 11 people.
In sharing his story with “60 Minutes” reporter Scott Feeley, McNeer was asked how he dealt with the crisis of losing his biggest customer and having to let go of employees. McNeer told Feeley that he asked God for guidance. “I asked God, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’”
Afterward, an associate producer asked McNeer about his church affiliation. He said he belonged to Sacred Heart Parish. The associate producer asked permission to videotape McNeer and his family at Mass.
The McNeers told their pastor, Father Bill Reynolds, about the request. So when “60 Minutes” called on Friday, Oct. 23, seeking permission to videotape the 9 a.m. Mass that Sunday, the priest was not surprised. “They asked if they could tape, and I said, ‘Yes.’”
Camera crews taped parts of the Mass and left before the Eucharistic Prayer, Fr. Reynolds said. Most of the videotaping focused on McNeer and his family. “I was more uncomfortable there, with the guy filming me close up than I was during the 45-minute interview,” McNeer said.
Kathy Hammerly, stewardship coordinator for the parish, said she hopes the “Sixty Minutes” segment highlights the resilience of Newton and the parish, too.
“Through all of this we built our gathering space and we did our renovation and it’s all paid for. And we did our capital campaign for the diocese and we met our goal for that. Our parish here is strong. That’s the message that needs to be heard.”