Catholic Free Press

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  • Feb
  • 23

Catholics flock to Catholicism series in parishes

Posted By February 23, 2012 | 12:24 pm | Lead Story #2
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By William T. Clew

“Catholicism” is catching on.
The 10-part DVD series is being shown in parishes around the diocese and a group of prisoners, after seeing one episode, asked to see the entire series.
The “Catholicism” documentary was created by Father Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Chicago, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. It was released last September. The executive producer is Mike Leonard, who has been a correspondent on NBC’s Today show and produced the public television series “Rule of Our Lives.”
According to LaVerne Bertin, associate director of the diocesan Office of Religious Education, 11 parishes are showing the series now and many more are planning to do so. She said she received many calls about the series after her name appeared as a contact person in an ad in The Catholic Free Press.
Her office is offering a program to teach people techniques for helping others get the most out of the series.
“It’s catching on with ordinary people,” she said.
It also has caught on with a group of prisoners at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Shirley. Mrs. Bertin said she was invited by the chaplain, Deacon Art Rogers, to show an episode to inmates in the medium security section there. After watching the episode that discusses the Beatitudes, the men voted to see the entire series.
The Office of Religious Education will hold a three-session program for those who wish to present “Catholicism” in their parishes. The sessions will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. March 14, 21 and 28 at St. George Parish, 38 Brattle St. The fee is $30, which includes a copy of the book “Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of Faith,” by Father Barron. Those wishing more information may call 508-929-4303.
The first session will help those who want to be facilitators work on how they will present the series to their own parish, Mrs. Bertin said. People who have already presented episodes will talk about their experiences.
The second session will be devoted to facilitator training. In the third and final session, some of those in training will act as facilitators for one episode, she said.
She said that people who have seen some of the series have been very positive about it. Some have bought the DVD for their families or relatives.
Father Barron and Mr. Leonard traveled around the world with other television producers to film the series, according to an article in the February issue of The Catholic TV Monthly magazine. Father Barron, a theologian and professor at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, is the author of “Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of Faith,” a companion book to the film.
Catholic TV Network began running the series on cable earlier this month. Locally the network can be found on Charter channel 101; channel 268 on Comcast; and channel 296 on Verizon.  A new episode will be broadcast each Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. and run through Holy Week, according to the magazine. The Wednesday program will repeat on Fridays at 8 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 p.m. The first six parts of the series will be rebroadcast through April.
The magazine described the series as taking “viewers around the world and deep into the faith, spanning more than 50 locations in 15 countries, stunningly filmed in high-definition cinematography.”
They filmed sacred sites in Jerusalem, Rome, Krakow, Warsaw, New York, Istanbul, Ephesus, Lourdes, Mexico City, Athens, Corinth, Uganda, Manila, Sao Paulo, Auschwitz, Kolkata, Philadelphia and Chicago, the magazine story stated. Included are such sacred places as the Dome of the Rock, Hagia Sophia, Mother Teresa’s tomb, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the cathedrals of Chartres, Notre Dame and Cologne, the Pantheon and one of the largest religious celebrations in the world, the feast of Ugandan martyrs, according to the magazine article.
Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, diocesan Chancellor and pastor of Christ the King Parish, was one of the first in the diocese to promote “Catholicism” as an educational and evangelization tool. He said the first New England public preview of “Catholicism” was held in Christ the King Church last October.
He said about 70 people from throughout the diocese attended the showing, which was held in the main body of the church.
He also is showing the series in the parish at 5 p.m. Sundays. He said eight episodes already have been shown, with the ninth scheduled for Sunday. He said it is shown in a side room at the church and has been drawing 25 to 30 people. It has been very-well-received, he said, with several people remaining after the episodes to discuss them.
He said a popular episode was the presentation on four women saints: Edith Stein, Therese of Lisieux, Mother Teresa and Katherine Drexel.
Msgr. Sullivan said he plans to continue to use the Catholicism series in the future, scheduling it for different times and dates.
“You can do it for years,” he said.
Father Stephen Gemme, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Northborough, where one episode of the series was shown recently, said the episode was well-received. It was about the Mass and it drew a crowd of 40 to 50 people, some of them parishioners and some from outside the parish. He said the episode lasted about 45 or 50 minutes and was followed by a question-and-answer period.
That lasted for about 20 minutes. Then many people stayed for coffee and to socialize and talked about the episode, Father Gemme said. He said he asked how many would come back to see other episodes and all raised their hands
Those who wish more information about the series may call Father Gemme at 508-393-2838.
St. Bernadette plans to show the first four episodes Mondays at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and March 5, 19 and 26. The rest will be shown after Lent, he said.