Tim from CCY's "To The Top," series - youtube.com/user/TheCCYchannel

Spreading the Gospel message via YouTube

By  Thien-An Nguyen, Youth Speak News
  • January 18, 2012

TORONTO - For a generation wired to the Internet via smartphones and laptops, the Gospel can easily be forgotten in the information overload. To prevent this, the Catholic Chaplaincy at York University (CCY) started To the Top, a web series of Catholic videos for youth.

“Many young people are spending many hours in front of their computers,” said Joseph Zambon, 25, CCY pastoral assistant and cast member of To the Top. “We, the Church, need to break into these places and make sure that young people are hearing the Gospel message. Otherwise, they will be swept away into a secular culture.” 

Launched in fall, To the Top was founded by Dwayne Santos, 21, a concurrent education student at York, as a way to educate both Catholics and non-Catholics about the faith.

To the Top videos are accessible through CCY’s YouTube channel and range from catechesis and biographies of saints to comedy skits and lectures, such as “The Porn Effect” by former Playboy producer Donny Pauling. On average, two to three videos are released a month. The most recent video release was a short explanation of the gift of piety by Zambon as part of the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” series.

“The main objective has always been and will continue to be to bring audiences closer to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,” said Santos. 

He also hopes the web series will present the interesting aspects of the Catholic faith.

“Not many people know that there’s a talking donkey in the Bible or that the Holy Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, so it’s our job to let them know,” he said. “We want to show our audiences that Jesus is relevant to everybody.”

J.P Sunseri, 18, who presented the gift of knowledge for the series, said these videos can be used by catechists, youth ministers or for self-awareness.

Fr. Carlos Martins, 37, chaplain of CCY, said the name of the web series is reflective of the chaplaincy’s patron Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati since To the Top was one of Pier Giorgio’s common sayings.

“In some sense it could be said that (Pier Giorgio) is the inspiration behind all our pastoral activities,” said Martins. 

Cast member Timothy Keslick said, “Much like Blessed Pier Giorgio, the webcast hopes to help young people develop and strengthen a deeper relationship with Christ through living out our Catholic values with great joy and greater love.”

Involvement with video production is open to all members of CCY so it is difficult to give an accurate number of To the Top participants, said Santos.

But very noticeable is the cast members’ diversity, ranging from different ethnicities, genders, ages and disciplines.

For camera operator and editor Keith LaPlume, 20, this is no surprise.

“York University is a very diverse campus to start with and Catholicism is a religion that is embraced by a variety of people,” LaPlume said. “The Catholic faith is not exclusive to a specific culture or group of people so it makes sense to reflect as many different people as possible in our videos.”

For cast member Natalie Wirjo, 18, the Internet has potential to spread positive messages like the Gospel.

“Word can get spread more quickly through the Internet,” she said. “This can become a good influence so that people know that the Internet is not all bad or negative.”

This evangelizing power of media had impacted cast member Marc Puigmarti, 21, who said other faith-oriented online videos “have taught me more about my faith.” Puigmarti joined To the Top hoping to accomplish the same for others.

In less than three months, the videos have had more than 4,000 views on YouTube. But Santos said the motivation is greater than the number of viewers.

“We remind ourselves that it’s about the amount of hearts we reach and not the amount of views we receive.”

Check out "To the Top videos" at youtube.com/user/TheCCYchannel.

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