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Evangelizing Through TV in Canada

1/28/2006 - 6:30 AM PST

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Interview With Father Thomas Rosica, President of Media Foundation

TORONTO, JAN. 28, 2006 (Zenit) - Television is no longer forbidden territory for evangelization, says the priest who served as national director of World Youth Day 2002 in Canada.

Immediately after that World Youth Day, Basilian Father Thomas Rosica was appointed as president and chief executive officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and television network in Canada.

He also lectures on sacred Scripture at the Faculty of Theology of the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto.

Q: How is Salt and Light Television being received in Canada?

Father Rosica: Canada needed this medium more than we know. Starting up a television network anywhere is fraught with challenges, and in Canada this is compounded by the country's size, distances, languages and cultures.

The endeavor has been filled with countless blessings and consolations. In a little less than three years, Salt and Light Television is available in over 100,000 homes. And the number of subscribers is growing.

Q: How did the Salt and Light Television network come about?

Father Rosica: Salt and Light Television was born on the wings of World Youth Day 2002. I have often compared WYD 2002 to a time-released capsule of holy energy and creativity that is slowly bearing fruit across our land.

One of the most obvious fruits of the 2002 event is the television network that came about through the generosity of an Italian Canadian family that owns the largest private print and media company in the country, St. Joseph Communications. Its founder, Mr. Gaetano Gagliano, now 88 years old, was a disciple and friend of Blessed Giacomo Alberione.

Mr. Gagliano views Salt and Light as the crown of his long career in the print, media and communications industry. The Gaglianos provided the seed money to get this project off the ground.

Other visible fruits of the 2002 World Youth Day in Canada have been smaller media efforts in the Archdiocese of Halifax with the John Paul II Media Institute, and the new Catholic film productions in the Archdiocese of Quebec.

Salt and Light is working closely with both dioceses and their fine archbishops: Terrence Prendergast, S.J., in Halifax and Cardinal Marc Ouellet in Quebec City, to encourage their efforts and benefit from the skills and activities of each initiative.

From our very beginning in 2003, we have received unfailing support and encouragement from the Vatican Television Center, from many departments of the Holy See, from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and many individual Canadian dioceses.

We have also worked closely with the American bishops' conference television services, Telepace and SAT 2000 in Italy, KTO in France, the Archdiocese of Hong Kong Media Center, and numerous Catholic television networks and Catholic film production houses throughout the world as we prepared our programming for Canada.

Q: Some say that we already have EWTN available, especially in North America. What is unique and specific to the mission of Salt and Light Television?

Father Rosica: Mother Angelica and her very competent and admirable team have done something great for God and the Church by giving us EWTN.

Yet we know that the urgent pastoral needs for education in faith and spirituality, history and Church teachings are so vast and can never be fulfilled by one group or agency.

We view our efforts at Salt and Light as complementary to those of EWTN, but we are also responding to specific needs and complexities of the Canadian Church.

Q: Describe the 24-hour-a-day programming schedule of the Salt and Light Television Network.

Father Rosica: Everything we do revolves around the five pillars of the Salt and Light Television network: prayer, devotion and meditation; multilingual Catholic liturgy, Vatican events and ceremonies; learning and faith development for all ages; stories of Catholic action and social justice throughout Canada and around the globe; stories of our Catholic communities; information and context.

We are producing 14 regular programs in our Toronto broadcast center in English, French, Italian, and beginning in February, 2006, in the Chinese dialect of Cantonese.

We also have occasional programs in Spanish, Polish and German. These languages respond to the culturally diverse Church in Canada.

Salt and Light Television network also works closely with the major television networks in Canada to assist in the background material and education about Catholic matters. This was clearly evident last winter and spring during the transition in the papacy. These efforts have ...

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