Bringing the Church to life

By 
  • September 28, 2013

TORONTO - Salt + Light, Canada’s Catholic broadcaster, is launching The Church Alive, “a series for the New Evangelization on the New Evangelization,” says co-host Sebastian Gomes.

Gomes and co-host Cheridan Sanders agreed to undertake this 13-part television and web series with the plan that it should “be different than every other kind of religious television,” said Gomes.

“We have to think outside the box with this. It’s got to be new, it’s got to be exciting, it’s got to be fast- paced. Basically, what are the types of media that people watch today without being bored out of their minds, especially when it comes to religious television.”

Gomes and Sanders, also Salt + Light producers, began to think of the types of television they love and incorporated that into The Church Alive. For example, Gomes likes the sports show format, a fast-paced mix of news, clips and commentary.

“But at the same time, we wanted to really plant substantial content into that format. So that involved a ton of research and talking to people about what really are the roots of the New Evangelization, what’s coming out as far as Church teaching, papal teaching, movements within the Church and where are we headed with this,” said Gomes.

He also attended the Synod of Bishops in Rome on the New Evangelization in October 2012 to get a more informed sense of what is on the minds of the world’s bishops.

Gomes and Sanders travelled across Canada and the United States to cover topics inspired by the Second Vatican Council, including ecumenism and inter- religious dialogue, in addition to issues affecting the Church in the modern world, including social justice and politics.

The series will also focus on issues generally under-covered, such as the Eastern Catholic Churches.

“I don’t think Roman Catholic or Latin Catholics, which most of us are in this part of the world, have any idea about who the Catholic Eastern Churches are, what their traditions are... and what the official teaching of the Church is in that regard,” said Gomes. “It’s only when you understand our relationship to the Catholic Eastern Churches that you realize what unity in diversity means, that you realize why it’s important to have a Pope and... that there is massive diversity in the Catholic Church.”

He added, “emphasizing that concept of unity in diversity, I think is a very important element of the New Evangelization and the episode on the Catholic Eastern Churches deals with that.”

The role of the laity also receives its own treatment.

“This one was an absolute given, especially because of the emphasis that the Second Vatican Council put on the role of the laity,” said Gomes, adding that multiple levels of the Church “have said lay people are the protagonists of the New Evangelization.”

Even global topics such as economics are covered in this series.

“There’s a real connection between the economic system and Church teaching, and that bridge was an important one for us to walk across,” Gomes said.

The series’ episodes, partially shot at Toronto’s CBC headquarters, will include interviews with Church leaders in and out of North America, commentary, feature stories, opinions from regular people and biblical reflections on what can be learned from Scripture on a new energy for evangelization.

“The point was how can we put as much variation into this as possible, so that there’s something for everyone,” Gomes said. He describes the tone as very upbeat, energetic, hopeful, forward looking and positive.

The first episode introducing the New Evangelization airs on Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT. For more information, visit www. saltandlighttv.org/thechurchalive/.

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