The Society of Ignatians aims to use the mass media for its mission both to spread the Catholic Faith through convert-outreach and to restore or strengthen the faith of those who have already been baptized Catholic.
Its overall strategy is three-pronged.
- Firstly, to ignite the initiative of Catholic creative minorities composed of mass media professionals ‒ journalists, scriptwriters, film producers, news analysts, presenters, and producers, playwriters, screenwriters ‒ establishing fellowships wherein they can find formation, solidarity, and the inspiration from the depths of their Catholic heritage in all of its breadth and integrity.
- Secondly, on a more long-term basis, in the course of their work with youth – through spiritual direction, preaching, writing – Ignatians will encourage those with lay vocations to enter the mass media world with an ardent missionary sense and will establish the same type of fellowships for these youth as for the professionals as well as operating summer schools and other training programs.
- Thirdly, in certain instances, Ignatians themselves will become directly involved in mass media: scriptwriters, advisors for mass media outlets, speakers and writers for both TV and internet, preparing documentaries, news programs, or acting as documentary and movie consultants.
This strategy of the Society springs from the firm conviction that the fulfillment of Christ’s missionary mandate, the eternal salvation of souls through pro-active missionary action, requires both priests and laity to each fulfill their distinct roles.
Priests are called to be authentic priests, men of the Holy Sacrifice, sanctifiers of the laity, and masters of sacred doctrine and ascetical-mystical life while laity must act energetically to christianize society from within their professions.
To foster a deeply Catholic identity in actual and future media professionals, Ignatians will aid them to root their convictions in liturgical prayer and the mystical-ascetical traditions of the millennia; thorough catechetical and apologetical knowledge of the Faith, regular availability of retreats (especially the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises), carefully-prepared preaching, sacramental confession.
Through one-on-one spiritual direction they will strive, as wise surgeons of souls, to empower the supernatural power of sanctifying grace to create within each militant Catholic “a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26), so that they can become the men and women who identify with Our Lord Jesus Christ’s words: “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).
As daunting as this mission seems, the opportunities for spirited and well-equipped Catholics are there either by encouraging and building up already existing Catholic media projects or starting new ones.
Success stories are not lacking.
For instance, there is the work of Christian scriptwriters in Hollywood.
Spencer Lewerenz and Barbara Nicolosi in their book, Behind The Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film and Culture, narrate how a group of Christian writers and producers have operated behind the scenes in the movie industry and indeed have been involved in some of Hollywood’s box office successes.
Nicolosi founded Act One, Inc., which “exists to create a community of Christian professionals for the entertainment industry who are committed to artistry, professionalism, meaning, and prayer, so that through their lives and work they may be witnesses of Christ and the Truth to their fellow artists and to the global culture”. Through its programs it equips Christians for careers in mainstream film and television, “in writers’ rooms, on sets, and in studio and network offices” ( http://www.actoneprogram.com/about-us/ )
Through Act One’s rigorous 12-week program taught by Hollywood professionals – over 50 top-notch TV and movie writers, directors, agents and producers – and through two-day workshops in cities across the U.S. on the craft and business of writing for mainstream TV and film, it has made a significant impact.
Another effective project is Catholics Come Home Inc., http://www.CatholicsComeHome.org a media company whose powerful TV commercials (“evangomercials” ) and web sites reach approximately 125 million viewers.
The commercials direct the viewer to the company’s website for answers to questions on the Faith and to the site’s parish-finder feature to locate their local parish church. More than a few lapsed Catholics have found their way back to the practice of the Faith through these campaigns.
Another is the Catholic Radio Association in the USA, with its motto “Converting the culture a station at a time”. As its website states:
“The Association serves as the trade association for Catholic radio….As a trade association, the CRA works to advance the cause of Catholic radio by providing member services, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and resources, and speaking with one voice for its members.
“The Association’s membership includes virtually all Catholic radio apostolates in the country, program providers, and several (arch)dioceses.
“Over the past 15 years the Association has helped Catholic radio grow at an average rate of over one new station per month.
“A current Low Power FM expansion effort could result in over 100 new stations and 10 million new souls reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” www.catholicradioassociation.org