After years of fine-tuning, the Redemptorists of English Canada (Edmonton-Toronto province) last week unveiled their new on-line religious education TV channel: www.redemptorist.tv. (RTV) to a group of young people attending S.E.R.V.E. (Summer Endeavour in a Redemptorist Volunteer Experience).
In the attached photo: RTV introduced to S.E.R.V.E. group:
Front: Meredith Gillis, Mike Crate, Darren Kinash (Villagers), Michelle McDonnell, Marc Moreau
Back: Adhi Ashali, Felicia DeFrenza, Fr. Santo Arrigo C.Ss.R. (S.E.R.V.E coordinator), Dawn Deme (Villagers), Brittany Garrard, Paolo Almonte, Fr. Mark Miller C.Ss.R.
S.E.R.V.E. is an opportunity for eight young men and women (age 18-30) to deepen their Christian Faith through fostering a sense of mission, service, prayer, spirituality and community in the tradition and charism of Redemptorist founder St. Alphonsus Liguori. S.E.R.V.E. members are active members of their local parishes and on their way to becoming teachers and community leaders.
Fr. Mark Miller CSsR, provincial of the English Canadian Redemptorists and a frequent RTV homilist, led the presentation to the S.E.R.V.E. group, outlining its benefits to educators and students, both at the school and parish level of religious education.
And he provided a brief history of how RTV came about.
“*Redemptorist TV* is intended to add value and opportunities for the thousands of faithful viewers of the Redemptorist weekly Perpetual Help Devotions TV program (on Vision TV and Salt and Light),” said Fr. Mark.
Perpetual Help TV Devotions has been on the air weekly for 16 years and attracts a weekly viewing audience of 50,000. The program is 100% sustained through donations of its viewers.
“The internet TV website now makes the Gospel message easily accessible to an even wider audience online. By accessing the site, people can deepen their knowledge and experience of the Gospel. In so doing, they are building upon similar encounters through the TV devotions,” commented Fr. Tony Bidgood CSsR in a telephone interview. R Bidgood is the TV Devotions host presenter, a frequent homilist contributor both to the Devotions and now to RTV and a Saskatoon assistant pastor recently posted to St. John’s Newfoundland.
“They can get to know us better and also pass the word around, especially to others who may not have the opportunity to watch the TV Devotions. Since we started the Internet TV service, we have received more than 75,000 visits,” adds Fr. Mark.
But RTV is also aimed at the Catholic educational community, both in schools and lifelong learners.
“The channel features classroom-friendly lesson plans based on five-minute homily videos written and presented by our priests and lay associates, and speaking to central themes in Catholic teachings,” says Fr. Mark.
“Our homilists have already done the work by contributing to the Devotions, but in this new Internet TV format, they will find a brand new audience – one that hopefully will be with us for many decades to come,” says Fr. Tony.
The Redemptorist Internet TV homilies and lesson plans have launched with two sets of eight reflections: one on the Eucharist and another on Catholic family life.
“The lesson plans that go with the on-line videos suggest delving into the broader array of Catholic teachings on the subjects through such things as papal encyclicals, but they also challenge students to consider deeper involvements with the Church, including the Redemptorists,” says Fr. Mark.
The “how to become involved” section on the RTV site points to a broad commitment on the part of the Redemptorists to animate and serve young people and to help train adult leadership to become involved with the spiritual development of young people.
“We welcome RTV as a fresh and learner-friendly way into the Redemptorist way of thinking and doing things,” says Fr. Santo Arrigo CSsR who runs S.E.R.V.E. , along with a number of national and local youth-related ministries out of Redeemer House, next to St. Patrick’s Parish, a downtown Toronto Redemptorist parish. Fr. Santo is the new pastor at St. Patrick’s as well.
In production now is the second generation of RTV offerings, this time focussed on the seven works of spiritual and corporal mercy.
“These are perennial teachings every Catholic needs to know and probably feels he or she does know,” says Fr. Miller. “But we all need an update. We are members of a magnificent Church that is both global and local. Through ongoing learning, we enrich each other spiritually and theologically. And we re-affirm our responsibilities towards each other. Even in this day of the Internet, we are still called to visit the imprisoned, feed the hungry and help the dying.”
S.E.R.V.E. participants greeted the new RTV contribution to religious education with enthusiasm, promising to follow up with feedback, suggestions and presentations to their local parishes and youth groups.
RedemptoristTV (RTV) can also be accessed through www.romancatholictv.com, a hub site for currently four pioneer Internet TV initiatives organized by four Canadian Catholic institutions: Redemptorists of English Canada, Pontifical Missions Societies—Canada branch; Scarboro Missions, and Building Bridges Project, Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops (AWCB).
“The idea behind the RCTV site, and the sites of each participating Catholic organization, is to contribute substantially and free-of-charge, to Canadian Catholic education, both at the school level and for lifelong learners,” says RCTV coordinating producer Dawn Deme.
“The Canadian Catholic community is enriched by countless gifted leaders, theologically trained and with a vast array of leadership in so many sectors: health, education, Aboriginal ministry and history, the missions of the North and worldwide, global justice, refugees and immigration, ecology, poverty, homelessness, prison ministry, interfaith and ecumenical understanding. They are articulate and very interested in younger people learning about their fields and hopefully becoming directly involved one day.
“The Internet TV opportunity allows teachers and students a firsthand peek into these spheres of knowledge and spiritual commitment. No longer does a teacher have to write away for a costly DVD, often out of date and foreign-produced, or fumble with out-of-date equipment. It’s all there, 24-7 on your computer and easy to project up onto a classroom screen.”
For any schools or individuals unable to access the site, the featured videos and lesson plans will be made available in DVD and hard copy at cost, by the participating RCTV partners, says Deme.