Archdiocese's video series shares stories of 'Walking with the Saints'
BRAINTREE -- The life of faith is often described as a journey. Catholics' belief in the Communion of Saints -- the unity of the Church on Earth and the saints in Heaven -- gives the assurance that no one is alone in seeking Christ.
This sense of connection is explored on multiple levels through "Walking with the Saints," a video series produced by the archdiocese's Secretariat for Evangelization and Discipleship.
Since late March, the videos have been released every other Tuesday on the secretariat's YouTube channel (youtube.com/evangelizeboston) and the archdiocese's Facebook page (facebook.com/BostonCatholic). Each two- to three-minute video features a conversation with a priest or religious walking around their community -- whether a parish church, a convent, or monastery -- and talking about a saint with whom they have a special relationship.
The idea for the series came about when Ann Gennaro, a content and communications specialist for the archdiocese, reviewed the archdiocese's social media content last year. She noticed that the posts that received the most engagement were about either saints, or priests and religious.
She said she wondered, "How do we combine these few forces, to give the people what they want but also give the people what can help them?"
She conceived "Walking with the Saints" as a way to help people learn more about the saints and inspire them to become saints themselves. But she did not want it to be "static," and thought it should convey "that dynamism that exists in the life of a saint."
"I wanted it to be a walk-and-talk, and a conversation, to show this progression and movement and activity that exists in the life of a saint and should exist in our lives, that we're not called to sit still. We're called to action. We're called to go forth," Gennaro said.
Evangelization consultant Chris Donoghue was invited to be the onscreen host who interviews the priests and religious featured in the videos.
"It's not typically part of my job. I'm not in media or production," Donoghue said, "But we do serve the diocese; we serve the parishes. So, to be able to go out and offer this as a service, and engage and build relationships with priests and religious in the diocese in a different context than faith formation or pastoral planning or things like that, has been rewarding."
Patrick Krisak, director of faith formation and missionary discipleship, also joined the small film crew, holding the boom mic while Gennaro handled the camera.
Gennaro described the episodes as "outlined but not scripted." Donoghue asks each guest a few basic questions about the saint they are discussing: Who were they? How did you come to know them? What inspires you about their life? What inspiration should everyone take from them?
Donoghue said he decided not to do any research on the saints prior to the interviews, wanting his experience of learning from the guests to be more authentic.
Guests and topics so far have included Father Carlos Suarez speaking about St. Edith Stein; Sister Carly Paula Arcella, a Daughter of St. Paul, talking about St. Paul; Father Richard Fitzgerald speaking about St. Columbkille; and Sister Faustina Kolbe Burda, a Daughter of Mary of Nazareth, talking about St. Faustina Kowalska.
One thing that has surprised Donoghue is the way viewers connect, not only with the saints but also with the guests and locations in the series. Some have written comments saying that they recognize their former parish or priest and are pleased to see them featured.
Part of the premise of "Walking with the Saints," Donoghue said, is to help people recognize their own call to be disciples.
"We're all one Church, and we're all on a journey. So, my hope is that, as people engage in these conversations and participate in the journey discussing a saint, it might awaken in them a recognition that they are also on a journey, and they're not journeying alone," he said.
Ultimately, he pointed out, all the conversations lead back to Jesus.
"It comes through in these conversations that this journey with saints is a journey towards Jesus, with Jesus, and is all focused on Jesus," Donoghue said.
Gennaro said she hopes the project "opens the door to creativity" and encourages people "to be creative in the ways that we tell the stories we have to tell."
"That can be anything from the stories of the saints, to our own personal stories of how the Lord has transformed our lives, to the beautiful things happening within our Church. We should feel the freedom to get creative with how we share those things," she said.
She acknowledged that people today are "bombarded" by content and that what many people hear about the Church is "so limited."
"I feel like we need to have the freedom to be able to go out and get creative and tell our story as the Church, and I hope that, in some small way, 'Walking with the Saints' can be a part of that, a part of telling our story out in this world that has so many messages, that we can just claim at least one small corner of it now," Gennaro said.