New Media Catholics

New Media Catholics August 4, 2020

 Books. Radio. TV. Blogs. Podcasts. Youtube Videos.

These are the media apparatuses used by talented men and women for a variety of reasons. For Catholics it is used to communicate, explain, defend, and expound upon the Catholic faith. It is a way to nourish, sustain and fulfill the  spiritual hunger of the faithful catholic and peek the interest of the non anti or nominal Catholic. There are many doing their best to use their unique talents to present the voice of Christ through their media platform of choice.  In my posts Catholic History During My Life Time Parts 1 and Two, I mentioned some of these individuals. In this post I want to expand my look at those said individuals and introduce a few more into the mix.

Don Betnelli @ – Leading the Way

Dom Bettinelli is CEO at SQPN (The Star Quest Podcast Network) started and founded by Geek Priest Father Roderick Vonhögen. Before Dom was making podcasts and talking mysteries with Jimmy Akin he led a bible study, that I was a part of.

Before I was married I used to lead a Bible study in my parish that brought together mainly young adults. As the resident guy with the Theology degree, I became the study leader, leading the discussion and doing the research into what we were reading at the time. I enjoyed it immensely, because it was a great social gathering (we always went for food and drink at Salem Beer Works afterward) as much as a wonderful intellectual and spiritual stimulation. I loved exercising those theology muscles again.

(The memory of the Bible study is also near and dear to my heart because it’s where I truly started the courtship of Melanie. After our near-disastrous beginning, she started coming to Bible study with her roommate and she saw I wasn’t just an impetuous cad.)
Domenico Bettinelli, The Life of the Mind For A Good Marriage (January 9, 2012) BETTNET.COM

Father Dan O’Connell @ Father Dan O’Connell | CatholicTV

From 2008 – 2015 I worked at CatholicTV. Located in Watertown Massachusetts, CatholicTV has been around since 1955. Since 1989 a priest named Father Dan O’Connell has been doing his TV show ‘We’ve Got to Talk‘. The format usually has a skit putting Fr. Dan in various places such as a jungle, ski resort, airplane, etc. all to introduce what he is going to talk about in his homily set against a greenscreen backdrop. Usually in his stories he talks about getting lost somewhere or some misadventure of his. In the end it always comes back to the gospel. He is an excellent preacher and is often seen in different parishes around the archdiocese of Boston giving retreats. What makes him stick out is the assorted variety of sweaters he always wears with his priestly outfit on. I would say that Fr. Dan’s style is somewhat similar to my own. Faithful, devout and rather super goofy at times. But it really drives home the catechetical point.

It was St. Ignatius of Loyola who invited his followers to look for Christ in the ordinary events of daily living. On Catholic TV’s We’ve Got To Talk (one of my favorite shows) we try each week to show there is NO aspect or part of our lives in which we don’t hear the loving voice of our God calling to us. Through green-screened, computer-generated special “effects,” we seek to highlight the God-generated special “miracles” that He works in everyday life, sometimes when we least expect it.  In the ordinary events of our lives, we are called to experience a call and conversion in extraordinary ways.
Father Dan O’Connell, CatholicTV Monthly • July 2014 •

Brian Holdsworth @ Brian Holdsworth on uCatholic

He is listed as one of Rene Alberts 7 influential people that helped him back into the Catholic Church. Brian has a rather balanced and positive Catholic outlook on the many issues that surround Catholic life. Some of them controversial. But he handles these issues with grace, wit, humor and common sense grounded in the foundation of Catholic thought and practice. His videos bring clear thinking to various different topics of interest to the faithful.

We thought we’d take a break from all the worry and have a family movie night. What could be more innocent than some Little House on the Prairie. What adventures does Walnut Grove have to relieve us of our troubles? Oh just an epidemic where the whole town gets sick and almost dies. Let that be a lesson. There are no safe spaces.
Brian Holdsworth on FaceBook (March 26 2020)

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

 Fr. Dwight is another person in Rene Alberts 7 influential people that helped him back into the Catholic Church and used to post his blogs simultaneously on Patheos Catholic as well as his own. Fr. Dwight is one of the few married priests in the Church having converted with his whole immediate family back in 1995. He has a number of books and podcasts covering a variety of different topics and ideas including his own version of C.S. Lewis ‘The Screwtape Letters’ called the Gargoyle Code in which he also has a podcast of him reading it.  The man is knowledgeable, sensible, creative and imaginative. If I want a good Catholic opinion on something, he is one of the people worth going to for an answer.

The imagination is arguably the most powerful and important aspect of our minds. All the great art comes from the imagination. All great inventions begin with the imagination.  All great literatures is bred in the imagination. All prayer, religion, spirituality and inspiration springs from the imagination.

The imagination is our portal to eternity. It is the creatively human aspect of our mind which is most like God the Creator because God’s imagination is always working, always creating, always making unexpected connections and bringing about unexpected encounters.

This is also what it means to have an abundant and faith filled spirituality. The imagination should be alive and active in our prayer lives. The imagination is a great gift which opens us to understand more fully the creatively abundant mind of God.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Mont St Michel, Angels and the Imagination (September 16th, 2019)

Bishop Robert Reed @ Bishop Robert Reed | CatholicTV

 In 2005 Fr. Reed became the president of the CatholicTV network. In 2016 he became Bishop Robert Reed. Around Massachusetts and other places where CatholicTV is broadcast Bishop Reed is as familiar as Mother Angelica on EWTN. Talk Show host Stephen Colbert even took notice of our station and commented on it, on his Colbert Report show.  Fr. Reed is an approachable person whom you can joke with, talk about spider-man with or ask to here your confession. He con-celebrated at my wedding and was helping serve in another parish near my house and was surprised to see him there when I went to a weekday mass. An all around great and holy man who knows how to use the camera in much the same way Fulton Sheen used to use the camera.

We have a need to sense the presence of eternity in our life here on earth.

Isn’t this one of the reasons why experiences of beauty we find in walking the beach (for instance) or music and art, why these experiences are so important? Or why we cherish a moment of peace, forgiveness and the affection a child? Isn’t this why community, family and friendship can be so life-giving? These are the quickenings which enable us to move forward in life with a deep hope.

And when we catch a glimpse of the eternal, we hang onto these experiences to help us through the difficult times. God is always calling us further down the path of life, into a life where our hopes will become reality.

And so…every time we come to this Holy Eucharist, we taste here on earth the gifts of the world to come.
Treasure these moments we have in prayer together this morning.

Be that good soil in which the seed of God’s eternal plan can germinate and grow.
Bishop Robert Reed, A Glimpse of the Eternal A homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (07/16/2017)

Lino Rulli @ Lino Rulli – A Man With A Large Nose ON CATHOLIC CHANNEL

In some stories you have a certain character set aside for comic relief. In the Catholic world you have set aside Lino Rulli for comic relief. He is not a theologian or catechist. He is an entertainer who is Catholic and makes his living bringing out the beauty and humor of the Catholic faith. He is the Catholic Guy and has been entertaining radio listeners on Sirus XM’s Catholic Channel since 2006.  Funny, reverent and a whole lot of fun is Lino Rulli.

Some dude who lived in Transylvania in the 1200s and died of the plague might have been holier than holy, but unless he converted Count Dracula, he’s not inspiring the majority of us these days. So I say, canonize me. In spite of my shortcomings and horrible mistakes (known in Church circles as “mortal sins”), you could identify with a St. Lino: A guy who does and says lots of stupid things. A saint who took seven spring breaks, though he was in college for only four years. A saint who isn’t interested in converting a count — though he does have, oddly, recurring dreams of Count Chocula chasing him with a lawnmower. A saint who celebrates his oddities and failures in the hope that he can encourage his brothers and sisters to join God in heaven. That’s me. That’s a saint you can relate to.
Lino Rulli, Saint: Why I Should Be Canonized Right Away (2013). Franciscan Media


Fr. Kris Schmidt A Beggar’s Heart

Father Kris Schmidt, is another one of the men who helped Rene Albert come back to the Catholic church. He started broadcasting his  podcast A Beggar’s Heart in 2017.  I am least familiar with him then all the others but include him, because he was included in that article I of Rene’s I have mentioned.  Rene is one of the 12 Catholics I admire and I trust his opinion. And so far just a cursorily look through his podcast titles, I think he is going to be a good one to listen to.

Coming to know God’s Word in our lives is a bumpy and sometimes complicated road. I know this because it is true in my life. My desire is that, as a priest through my homilies, God might make Himself known to you more clearly for He is simply Beautiful.- Father Kris Schmidt, 

 Brandon Vogt @ Brandon Vogt | God, Books, and Blogging

Brandon is Bishop Robert Barron’s right hand man being the content director of Word on Fire and host of the Word on Fire show. He writes books, interviews different authors about their books and recommends lots of great Catholic books for the world to read. He heads the exclusive Catholic education website ClaratusU. He is an all-around media guru and faithful and bright Catholic. If you want to learn about a particular Catholic personality, chances are Brandon will know about him.

Christianity reveals a God who uses all sorts of media to get his message across, from pillars of fire to bright stars, from burning bushes to a talking donkey. He delivered the Ten Commandments on chiseled rock, painted rainbows to signal his covenant, and used a cross to display his love. However, the Bible doesn’t mention God using emails, blog posts, podcasts, or e-books — and when the prophet Habakkuk [2:2] quotes God saying, “Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, “ he wasn’t promoting iPads, either! Even though these technologies don’t show up in Scripture, history has shown that God showers down new mediums at specific times to spread his Word in new ways.
Brandon Vogt, The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet  (2011)  Our Sunday Visitor

Fr. Roderick Vonhogen @ Trideo

Fr. Roderick founded SQPN back in 2005 when podcasting was becoming a thing. He is a great orthodox priest from the Netherlands who just happens to like geeky things and podcasts about them. He will comment on Harry Potter, Star Wars and Superheroes from a Catholic perspective as well as purely Catholic things such what the pope is up to. In 2018, he stepped down as CEO of SQPN to focus on his work with Trideo, another media venture which he launched in 2014. He is an example of a normal ordinary priest who likes to have fun and also takes his faith and vocation as a priest very seriously. For some reason thou, his memoirs have not been put out in digital format.

I dreamed of becoming a comic book artist, an astronaut, a movie director, an astronomer, or an exploerer. I wanted my life to be special, to mean something. Luke Skywalker embodied the kind of person I wanted to become. I wanted to dedicated my life to a cause that mattered-traveling beyond the boundaries of my own small world, learning about the mysteries of life, saving people from evil. God probably had an idea where this was going. I didn’t have a clue yet.
Roderick Vonhogen   Geekpriest: Confessions of a New Media Pioneer (2013)

Catholics Next Door and In a Small Town

Greg and Jenifer Willits @ Greg Willits – Speaker. Author. New Media Leader.

Mac and Katherine Barron @ Mac and Katherine Barron

Greg along with his wife Jennifer are the Catholics Next Door. Mac and Katherine Barron are Catholics in a Small Town. They produce podcasts, books, videos and more. These Catholic couples are two sets of down to earth individuals that present what life is like for two ordinary faithful talented creative Catholic families  living today. The one and only episode from CatholicTV brings their unique comedic style together in one moment of quality Catholic entertainment.

The great news is that it’s easier to be a light than you may think. It involves being aware of others’ situations and taking advantage of opportunities to be good neighbors, to reach out in small and large ways and make a difference in the lives of others. It also requires a willingness to let your neighbors think you’re nuts.
Greg and Jennifer Willits, The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living 2012 Franciscan Media

We have a concept of the disciples as men who were laser-focused on Christ and his mission on earth — and to an extent, they were. But if you look closely, the Scriptures actually tell us that they could often be a bunch of clueless knuckleheads. The disciples were a bit like teenage boys: they were sometimes overly concerned with food and who would get to go first. They would try to take things too far (“shall we call down fire from heaven, Lord?” [see Lk 9:54]). They couldn’t stay awake during prayer time. And apparently one of them wasn’t wearing any underwear (just look up Mk 14:51-52).
Mac Barron, Clueless in Galilee: A Fresh Take on the Gospels(2018) Our Sunday Visitor

Matt Weber @ Matt Weber | Crazy Catholic | CatholicTV

I had not originally included him in my timeline but will talk about him here. Matt Weber is known as the Andy Rooney of CatholicTV. I once gave him a ride home after he was done shooting a segment for our channel. He has won some Gabriel awards for his creative content. He is a dad, a writer, a producer and a good husband. I have to admit I’m a tad jealous of him, because he creates the type of content I would like to produce but never have. I would say that his style of comedy and Catholicism is the kind I would like to emulate in my public persona.

“Yes, Matthew,” said my all-knowing religion teacher at Holy Cross Grammar School.

“Why does my friend St. Francis have spots on his hands and feet?” I asked in prepubescent squeakiness. I remember wondering whether these spots were the result of “leopard-sy” or were caused by some other condition.

“Well, Matthew,” she said, “those are holes, and they are called the stigmata, and it reflects the wounds Jesus suffered during his crucifixion.”

“How did St. Francis get them?” I asked with queasy curiosity.

“He was good, Matthew, . . . a good Catholic.”

After all being Catholic has taught me many things about what happens when we are bad. As children we are told that sinning makes Jesus cry, blackens the soul, and quite simply and scarily, sends you to hell. Conversely, all the lessons of being good point to bliss; heaven, closeness to Jesus, and happiness are all by-products of living a good Catholic life. Yet here I was, a now-confused nine-year-old wondering about this gaping inaccuracy and a possible outcome outlier of being good. Living the life of a “good Catholic” now meant the risk of something extremely painful: waking up one morning to four bloody holes and a dripping chest gash.
Matt Weber, Fearing the Stigmata: Humorously Holy Stories of a Young Catholic’s Search for a Culturally Relevant Faith (2012) Loyola Press

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