Editorial – Go Tell It On The Mountain
One foot hits the floor and then the other. Gaining my balance, I walk from the bed and begin my morning ritual in preparing to meet the day. With partially opened eyes, I find the light switch. Then I move across the room to the radio and turn the knob. On this particular Sunday morning, I was greeted with some old, obscure hymn introducing the broadcast of a local church service. Immediately, I changed the station.
As moderator of Thoughts for the Week – a "radio program," you would think that I would be more receptive to this instance of religious programming. I wasn't. The sobering feeling washed over me that, perhaps, the same thing was happening to our program. Sure, Thoughts for the Week is not a tape of a sermon, but an interview with experts on various topics of universal concern. Father Mark Connolly, Mrs. Dorothy Riera, and I interview guests on both religious and non-religious per se contemporary issues and, I hope, we provide interesting and informative shows for our national audience. Interest in communications, particularly radio, arose within me from my adolescence. Graduating from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1972 and passing the test for the necessary Third Class Radiotelephone license, I began my priesthood and radio career simultaneously. My current connection with Clemons Productions is an inestimable blessing for me.
As we are aware, technology changes rapidly. I confess that I feel like a spectator standing in bewilderment before a wide array of the newest developments. Whenever I was struggling to gain competence in even understanding a new communications tool, I admit to my delight to have discovered that it had become obsolete. My sincere hope is that there are many priests, religious, and laity for whom these innovations are not overwhelming, but are an exciting resource that they can't wait to use for the spread of the mission of the Church. Last year, for the celebration of the Forty-fourth World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI elaborated on the theme of The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word, by stating, "Priests stand at the threshold of a new era as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word." The pope's words provide for me a feeling of vindication and legitimacy for the efforts made throughout my years as a priest.
The Church as a universal entity already has a multitude of products available for the edification of Catholics and interested non-Catholics alike. Media formats such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, films, videos, music, and educational software dedicated to promote the ministries and beliefs of the Church are both plentiful and available. All of these forms of outreach remain viable and necessary – BUT. Developments in modern culture are adopting a new set of tools in communication. The Church needs expertise in order to successfully engage in these emerging technologies. Some time ago, the bishops decided to discontinue the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America (CTNA). This action was considered a good thing by a consensus of experts. Funds would be better spent addressing the engagement of the Church in areas such as the interactive and human response methodologies of the growing two-way dialogic media.
The challenge ahead is immense, but so is the talent and creativity of Catholic men and women being trained in the multi-media communications field. The Church requires a plan and a strategy flexible enough to adapt to new modes of communicating the Word of God. Thus is the modern playing field where the Church has to respond to the mandate of the hymn, Go Tell It on the Mountain.