Young folks putting faith to work at Salt + Light

By  Karen M. Franz, Catholic News Service
  • September 6, 2007

TORONTO - Some staff members at Canada’s Salt + Light TV find working for a Catholic television network is a way of putting their faith to work.

Producer Gillian Kantor began volunteering and later working for World Youth Day 2002 while working at the children’s wildlife magazine Wild. After World Youth Day, she took a job as youth editor with Canada’s national Catholic newspaper, The Catholic Register. She also kept in touch with the former World Youth Day director, Basilian Father Tom Rosica, who went on to head up Salt + Light TV.

Eventually Rosica and Joseph Sinasac, The Register’s publisher and editor, struck a deal for Kantor to split her time between the newspaper and the TV station. Slowly, she shifted into a full-time position at Salt + Light.

“I was so attracted by what’s happening here, by the growth and the opportunities — not just for us working here but also for Catholic media in Canada,” she said.

{sidebar id=1}“Everyone’s really young here,” she acknowledged. “But we’re getting older now, and as we grow, the station is maturing.”

Kantor said she was reluctant at first to get involved in Catholic media.

“I was hesitant about mixing my faith and journalism,” she said. “But once I got into it and the stories of people — individual Catholics expressing their faith — that’s what drove me in my work for The Register and in the projects I choose to work on at Salt + Light. It’s the people and their stories — that’s what I love to tell.”

The connection between The Register and Salt + Light has continued to flourish. Kantor has done some freelance work for The Register since leaving the paper and Rosica contributes commentary pieces to the newspaper. The Register’s Youth Speak News team holds an annual retreat weekend that includes a talk with Rosica as well as an introduction to Salt + Light and its staff.

As associate producer, Matthew Harrison assists in the production of programs and also is responsible for the web log, or blog, on the Salt + Light web site.

Harrison studied radio and television at Toronto’s Ryerson University, then worked in broadcast news with Canadian Press. After three years in the seminary, he began working for Salt + Light last October.

“I wanted to be a part of the new evangelization ... and get the Gospel out and win hearts to Christ,” said Harrison, one of the few Salt + Light staffers without any connection to World Youth Day 2002.

Producer Mary Rose Bacani made her way to Salt + Light as a result of “one of the moments in my life when I felt a call.”

Nearing completion of her undergraduate program at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., Bacani was planning to attend law school. Yet she had always loved writing, and family and friends told her she had a perfect voice for radio and the “presence” for TV.

So when she learned that the friend of a friend was working in the control room of a new Catholic television network in Toronto, she “just popped in” at the Salt + Light studios — dressed in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt — to have a look around. Her unusual approach got the attention of Salt + Light management, and she was soon offered a job.

The child of a “ritualistically Catholic” Filipino family, she previously had been a first-degree member of Regnum Christi, a predominantly lay ecclesial movement under the spiritual direction of the Legionaries of Christ. Bacani said she entered consecrated life in the order “not so much because I loved the Lord but because I wanted to love Him.” Noting that the order’s members are “so in love with God,” she said she found herself unable to “grasp the reality of consecrated life.”

Although she finds working at Salt + Light “much more real,” Bacani acknowledged that her experience in Regnum Christi “definitely got me on the road to prayer.”

“I didn’t have a faith life before Regnum Christi,” she continued. “To survive at Salt + Light you have to have a strong faith life. As someone told me, you can’t give what you don’t have.”

Bacani said she loves “bringing images and words together creatively to touch people. It’s part of my joy to tell Catholics they’re not alone. ... It’s the art and the satisfaction that I made a difference.”

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