WASHINGTON (February 24, 2006)— A series of Lenten radio retreats is being offered to radio stations by the U.S. bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign.
The half-hour programs will help facilitate the prayer and reflection that are key components of Catholic Lenten practice.
The inaugural program provides six English-language and six Spanish-language editions of the retreats—one for each Sunday of Lent, which begins Ash Wednesday, March 1. The programs were produced for the CCC by Franciscan Radio, a ministry of the Franciscans and St. Anthony Messenger Press.
Each radio retreat program features a bishop as retreat guide and homilist. Program host Elia Castillo opens the programs with a brief greeting and description of the retreat followed by a sung version of The Lord's Prayer. Next the featured bishop presents his homily on the readings for the particular Lenten Sunday. The homily is followed by a song for meditation and a question-and-answer segment with the bishop concerning the themes of his homily. The programs conclude with a wrap-up from the host and a final blessing from the bishop.
The programs have been offered to Catholic dioceses and radio outlets throughout the United States on a non-exclusive basis. They also can be heard on a companion Internet Web site developed for the project, www.radioretreat.org. On the Web site, there are descriptions of each program, background information on the bishops and links to other Lenten spiritual resources. The programs can be downloaded from the Web site as MP3 files for podcast or other personal use.
The idea for the retreat series was inspired by Archbishop John P. Foley, an American who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said Executive Producer Pat Ryan Garcia, CCC Director of Distribution.
"In a May 2004 address to the USCCB Communications Committee," Ms. Garcia said, "Archbishop Foley suggested ways of outreach and evangelization that might take advantage of the increased interest in using the media for spiritual assistance, including radio retreats."
"The CCC has had success in producing and distributing radio programs over the past several years," Ms. Garcia said, "and the Committee asked that we develop the radio retreat idea for Lent 2006."
The bishops featured in the programs are:
English: Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati
Spanish: Auxiliary Bishop Felipe de Jesus Estevez of Miami
English: Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota
Spanish: Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico
English & Spanish: Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, California
English: Cardinal William Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore
Spanish: Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles
English: Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden, New Jersey
Spanish: Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange, California
English: Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh
Spanish: Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio
"The bishops who participated in the retreats offered wisdom in their homilies and inspiring interviews about the themes of each Sunday's Lenten Gospel," says John Feister, Franciscan Radio's coordinator for the project."
"The English and Spanish versions are each culturally tuned for their audiences," added Feister. "Wrapped in a package that includes prayer and music, we think this is inspiring programming for any radio station that seeks an uplifting message for the weeks before Easter."
The programs are being offered on compact disc, free of charge, to interested radio stations. Those who want to receive the set of programs or more information can contact Executive Producer Pat Ryan Garcia (firstname.lastname@example.org), 202-541-3404.
The Catholic Communication Campaign is an activity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to develop media programming, public service announcements, and other resources to promote Gospel values. Donations of Catholic parishioners make possible the work of the CCC. For more information, visit www.usccb.org/ccc.