WASHINGTON ( October 25, 2007)—Fishers of Men, the 18-minute DVD that is a major resource in a vocational recruitment project launched last year by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), will be honored with a Gabriel Award, October 26, in Hollywood, California.
More than 60,000 copies of the DVD have been distributed nationwide and beyond. Fishers of Men has been aired on TV stations, shown in schools, during parish Masses, seminaries and small group settings and played on individual computers.
Fishers of Men was produced by Grassroots Films of Brooklyn, New York, and is a fast-paced video which shows many of the facets of a priest's daily life. Several priests provide testimony to the importance they place on their own vocation. A dramatic re-enactment portrays how a priest can inspire a vocation through his service to someone in need of priestly ministry.
The Fishers of Men project is intended to renew priests' sense of fulfillment in their vocation and to encourage them to draw on that satisfaction to invite other men to pursue the priesthood. It is based on Christ's call to the first Apostles, "I will make you fishers of men" (Mk 1:17). The project was developed by the USCCB Committee on Vocations.
The Gabriel Awards are sponsored by the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals to honor works of excellence in broadcasting. Other 2007 winners include Picturing Mary, an effort by the USCCB and Thirteen/WNET, the nation's flagship PBS station; and Disney's Little Einsteins: A Tall Totem Tale, from the Disney Channel.
Joseph Campo, producer of Fishers of Men, said, "I speak for everyone on the Grassroots Films staff when I say that we have always had a positive view and appreciation of the Catholic priesthood throughout the world, and we are grateful for the opportunity to portray what it means to be a priest in the film, Fishers of Men." He finds the DVD's success heartening.
"Serious filmmakers always work to produce something of extraordinary artistic quality," Campo said. "When the work can serve a noble goal such as inviting men to the priesthood, it's doubly rewarding for the artists."
Msgr. Edward J. Burns, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, noted the broad reception of the DVD and Fishers of Men project.
"This program has reached almost 50 percent of our dioceses and is now going international," he said. "Nineteen countries have contacted us regarding this program. It is not only a resource for the church in the United States but hopefully a resource for the church universal. The testimonies of young men who have watched this production have made it all worthwhile."
At the very core of this project is the fact that priests play a vital role in inviting men to consider the priesthood. As Christ said, so the priest today says, "Come follow me." A 2007 survey sponsored by the Vocations Secretariat reported that 80 percent of the newly ordained priests in the country say a priest invited them to consider the priesthood.
Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City (SD), the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Vocations, said that this venture has gone well beyond what anyone initially expected.
"Fishers of Men has appeal across the board and reminds all Catholics why they treasure their priests," Bishop Cupich said. "Anyone interested in the priesthood, whatever his age, responds to the DVD's message: The priesthood is a call to service.
"With modern cinematography the filmmakers have captured the timeless calling of the priesthood: Follow and be like Jesus."
The Fishers of Men trailer can be viewed at http://ccc.usccb.org/video/fishers_of_men1.wmv . Copies of Fishers of Men can be obtained through Grassroots Films (http://www.grassrootsfilms.com or T.V. Access (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the USCCB (EBurns@USCCB.org).