February 1993: Hearing the Mass in remote Diomede

Little Diomede, Alaska

February 28, 1993

KNOM volunteer news director Cherie Collins is on incredibly remote Little Diomede Island (pictured above), her small plane having landed on a strip cleared of snow on the Bering Strait ice pack.

Diomede church

The Catholic church in Little Diomede.

Diomede does not see a priest more than one or two Sundays a year. On this day, a Sunday, Cherie climbs up the steep, icy hill to the town church to pray with the villagers. She remembers:

To my surprise, they turned on KNOM! For over a year as a KNOM volunteer, I had sat behind the audio console in KNOM’s Studio A while we broadcast Mass from Nome’s St. Joseph Church, but I had no idea what an impact it made hundreds of miles away. In the isolated Little Diomede church, there we were, celebrating Mass along with our friends in Nome. I wondered how many people in other villages were also listening and praying along with KNOM.

It was an incredible experience, the kind that gives you the chills… One woman told me that they had once tried conducting their own Eucharistic liturgies, but they preferred to pray with the radio Mass because it helps them to feel connected with the outside world. Living so remotely, you can start to feel very alone. But thanks to KNOM, the distance between friends and family in other villages doesn’t seem as far. And that was exactly how I felt.

I don’t think I had ever realized the full power of KNOM until that wonderful moment.