by Ed Wilkinson
What a week it has been!
Pope Benedict’s historic journey to Mexico and Cuba this past week was a huge undertaking. Not just for the 84-year-old pontiff, but also for our local media here in the diocese.
The DeSales Media Group, which produces both The Tablet and NET television, made a strong commitment to covering the pope’s pastoral visit to Latin America. It meant weekend and overtime hours for everyone on staff.
Liz Faublas, the anchor of Currents, our daily cable news show, guided viewers through the five days of papal coverage. She was ably assisted by expert commentary from diocesan resources. We wanted to offer something that no one else was giving to viewers and we managed to do just that.
When the pope was in Mexico, we reached out to and received help from Father Ray Roden, who takes special interest in the history of the Church in Mexico. He and two native born Mexican seminarians, Jesus Ledezma and Hugo Rodriguez, were our on-air guests as Benedict visited Guanajuato and Leon. The visuals from the shrines and the basilicas were magnificent and Father Roden and his companions explained the significance and the history behind them. The trio had recently been on pilgrimage and retreat in Mexico, so they were still filled with the excitement and refreshment that such a getaway provides.
As the Holy Father arrived in Cuba, we invited Msgr. Otto Garcia, the Cuban-born pastor of St. Joan of Arc, Jackson Heights, and former Vicar General, to our studio, along with Deacon Felipe Almendarez of Holy Name parish, Park Slope. They provided the color and offered explanations that only natives from the island could supply.
Our liturgical expert, Father John Cush joined us when the pope celebrated Mass. After his expert commentary during the recent installation of the new cardinals, we knew he was the one we wanted to lead us through the special celebrations.
But that’s not all. Our in-studio performances were complemented by reports from the ground in Mexico and Cuba, where we invested in sending reporters and film crews. NET program director Ryan Stewart was in Mexico with producer Eli Soriano, a native of Mexico, and Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, a Mexican-born priest who serves at St. Joseph’s Church, Prospect Heights. In Cuba, Msgr. Kieran Harrington, Vicar for Communications, teamed up with Tablet reporter Antonina Zielinska and producer Will Fonseca. Their packages have been broadcast on Currents all week long as well as being used during our live coverage.
It was not easy getting into Cuba. For the past month, we have been filing applications with the U.S. and Cuban governments to receive the proper credentials. Those efforts have paid off with reports about the church in Cuba that you cannot see anywhere else but on NET and the pages of The Tablet.
Our hard working staff crew here in Brooklyn turned in a yeoman effort to transmit these images on your TV screens and produce the words on these pages. But this is what we are all about at DeSales, your one-stop media provider of church news.
We hope that you enjoyed our efforts. Your comments on how we can improve these services in the future are always welcome. DeSales is growing in ways we could not predict even months ago when we were established. We’re committed to going forward to bring you the most informative and most educational church coverage.