by Kathleen M. Gallagher
THEY CAME TO Brooklyn from all over the state. They arrived on planes, trains and automobiles. They sacrificed a Saturday with family and friends, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the busiest time of the year. They met at DeSales Media Group, home of NET-TV, to participate in a full day of media training conducted by Catholic Voices USA. Why? Because they want to spread the Good News.
Catholic Voices is a relatively new project, launched in England, to increase the number of Catholic laypeople effectively communicating the Church’s teachings in an increasingly secular society. The founder, Austen Ivereigh, has written a book, How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice, a primer on how to shed light rather than heat on hot-button social issues like marriage, abortion and contraception.
Kim Daniels is a wife and mom from Bethesda, Md., who took on the job of coordinating Catholic Voices here in America. She has a real gift for simplifying complex Catholic moral teachings into words everyone can understand. She paints pictures of better choices for pregnant women, stable families for children and quality care for the dying. You can just tell she’s the real deal; she genuinely and joyfully loves her Church.
Working with News Media
I was privileged to organize the Catholic Voices USA training in Brooklyn for a group of about 10 diocesan representatives. Kim and her D.C. colleagues offered participants tips on how to work with the news media, how to answer (or not!) loaded questions, maintain composure, be positive, tell our story, “stay in our lane,” stick with what we know, and reframe the message.
Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online, played the hostile interviewer and challenged each participant with tough questions under the glare of the lights in a professional television studio. Then each interview was played back and critiqued. Invaluable lessons were learned and confidence gained throughout the day.
The training was enriching and grace-filled for all: the fresh faces of young 20-somethings, so eager to share their faith; the wisdom and experience of long-time Church employees; the trainers themselves, rejuvenated by the interactions and eager to give sound and expression to the next group of voices.
The N.Y.S. Catholic Conference is indebted to the DeSales Media Group and the Brooklyn Diocese for their extraordinary generosity in making the training possible, providing the facilities, staff (Thank you, Gina!) and coordination needed, with hospitality to boot.
A big shout-out of “thanks!” goes to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, DeSales Media CEO Art Dignam, diocesan Vicar for Communications Msgr. Kieran Harrington and Vincent LeVien, director of external affairs for DeSales. We could not have accomplished so much without them.
In the end, 10 more Catholics are now better equipped to plant seeds in the vineyard, to put out into the deep of the 24/7 news media cycle and share our Good News. We are all called to be Catholic voices, calmly, confidently and lovingly making our case in the public square. Check out Catholic Voices USA at www.catholicvoicesusa.org to learn more.