The Catholic University of America

Feb. 28, 2014 

Salt + Light CEO and Producers Visit CUA

  Father Rosica
  Rev. Thomas M. Rosica, C.S.B., meets with CUA students.

Rev. Thomas M. Rosica, C.S.B., CEO of Canada’s Catholic TV channel Salt + Light, is mingling with a group of students in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. He has an easy rapport with them as he recalls his role last year as the Vatican’s official spokesperson during the papal transition. The students frequently burst out laughing as he tells lighthearted stories from that historic time.

It’s an easy introduction to the students for Father Rosica, and for Sebastian Gomes and Cheridan Sanders, both producers with Salt + Light. They were on campus Feb. 27 for a daylong series of events sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry. They met with members of the University community about the media company, youth ministry, and the New Evangelization.

The day began with two lunchtime presentations, one on Salt + Light’s TV and Web series The Church Alive and the other on “Young Adults, Youth Ministry, Participation in the Church, and the New Evangelization.”

Gomes and Sanders introduced students to The Church Alive, a fast-paced, segmented, and interactive series they host that aims to get people talking about faith, share stories of the New Evangelization, and highlight Catholicism and its traditions.

Gomes provided a brief background on the New Evangelization. He described how Pope Francis may bring more to that movement through his humility and outreach to those who have felt on the “periphery” of the Church.

“Pope Francis is the New Evangelization in the flesh,” said Gomes. “It’s really a defining moment we’re living through.”

Sanders explained the development of the format of the show, which covers themes of the New Evangelization and the Second Vatican Council in a 13-part series. She said the pace and format, inspired by sports and entertainment shows, are meant to bring joy to viewers.

“We wanted to set people on fire [spiritually] and show that the Church is young,” she said.

At the second lunchtime discussion on youth ministry, Father Rosica recalled his time as executive director of the Newman Centre Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto and as national director of World Youth Day and the papal visit of Pope John Paul II to Toronto, both in 2002.

He encouraged the students in attendance to tune into what is going on in the universal Church rather than getting caught up in the messages of segmented populations of the Church.

“Pope Francis is focusing on the big picture. The world is becoming the parish,” said Father Rosica.

Salt + Light  
Sabastian Gomes, Father Rosica, and Cheridan Sanders answer questions from CUA students.


Later in the afternoon, Father Rosica, Gomes, and Sanders spoke on “The Significance of Messages and Contributions of John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis to Youth/Young Adult Ministry.”

They addressed the traits and works of previous popes that are relevant to youth today.

Gomes described several key characteristics of Pope John XXIII to which today’s young people may relate. For example, the Pope kept a diary that described some of his daily struggles with his own pride, tendency for gossip, and perceptions of failure in his prayer life. Gomes said that Pope John XXIII, who will be canonized on April 27, progressed in his holiness throughout his life.

“A lot of young people are searching and have important questions about faith. We tend to give them this sense that Christianity and conversion happen in a light bulb moment. John XXIII’s life shows us it’s a journey. It’s not a sprint but a marathon,” said Gomes.

“Pope John XXIII was a pastor, but also a dreamer,” added Father Rosica. “He was not afraid to think boldly. As youth ministers, you have to have a plan, but you also have to allow the space for something beautiful to happen. Don’t be afraid to dream.”

Sanders said many perceive Pope Benedict XVI simply as “conservative.” But she emphasized his humility, gentleness, and great respect for all humanity.

“More important than being a teacher, he was a student of life,” she said. “He realized he didn’t have all the ultimate answers and he was curious. This made him a good dialogue partner. We can all adopt this mindset. Life can speak to us through anyone in any situation.”

Father Rosica got to know Pope John Paul II while working with him on World Youth Day. He recalled the profound love people all over the world had for the Pope, who also will be canonized on April 27.

“He took the show away from Rome and took it to the ends of the earth,” he said.

The day ended with CUA on Tap, a monthly event hosted by resident ministers that features an open mic and a presentation on a theological topic of interest to students. Father Rosica, Gomes, and Sanders spoke on “Go and Make a Mess, Pope Francis Style: An Insiders’ Look at What’s Really Going on in the Church.” To see The Washington Post’s coverage of that event, click here.




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