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Remember when Pope John Paul II visited Uganda and Kenya?

While we celebrate Pope Francis’ historic visit to Uganda today, I thought I’d share with you this classic image of Pope John Paul II during his apostolic visit to Uganda in 1993. Wonderful, isn’t it?

During the 26 and a half years of his pontificate, John Paul II was a pilgrim to 129 different countries on 104 apostolic voyages, traveling 1,247,613 km (approx 750,000 miles).

How’s that for racking up airmiles!

Kenyans greet Pope John Paul II with music in Nairobi in September 1995. For the pontiff it was a busy year of travel -- 12 countries in all. In total his trips during the first 25 years of his papacy have taken him to 129 nations. (CNS file photo) (Aug. 28, 2003) See POPE25-TRAVEL Aug. 28, 2003.

And here in this photo, Kenyans greet Pope John Paul II with music in Nairobi in September 1995. 1995 was a busy year of travel for Pope John Paul — 12 countries in all.

Don’t miss a minute of Pope Francis’ historic trip to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Watch it all right here on Salt and Light.

CNS photo from L’Osservatore Romano, Arturo Mari and CNS file photo

CherdianS1The Producer Diaries

Cheridan Sanders, a Producer at Salt and Light Television, reflects on her experiences as she travels the world telling Catholic’s stories.



Throwback Thursday: The Church Alive – Who could’ve imagined this?


Producer Cheridan Sanders shares her thoughts and experiences leading up the premiere of The Church Alive in 2013. Read her story below:

Last year, when Fr. Thomas Rosica first gathered the S+L team around the conference table to share thoughts in anticipation of the upcoming Synod on the New Evangelization, I never expected that Sebastian Gomes and I would be charged with putting together a series about it!

At the time, it was a Jeremiah moment for me. My thoughts ran along the lines: “I’m too inexperienced, I’m too new… not me Lord!”. But, anyone who has ever worked with our fearless leader, Fr. Tom Rosica knows well enough that questioning the boundless faith that he has in his team, is not an option.


So onward we marched into new terrain. Never in my wildest imaginings did I foresee what lay ahead. Who would have thought we’d travel the Americas, personally attend the Synod on the New Evangelization, witness a papal transition, interview Cardinals one-on-one, and re-discover the inspiring unsung heroes in our own backyard!

Now that we’re nearing the end of this odyssey, and the final touches are being added to the series, I’m most grateful for the opportunity to share these stories with you. My hope remains that you’ll be inspired, renewed and encouraged to participate more fully in this incredible reality that we call The Church. Friends, the world needs our Christian witness more than ever.

After all, ‘no one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand’ (Luke 11:33). This is the time to put away doubts, forget ourselves and undertake the noble mission of evangelization, won’t you join us?

The Church Alive is availabe for purchase now on our online store for $59.95 or on demand on Vimeo.  

Throwback Thursday: Counting Down to The Church Alive.

Salt + Light producer Cheridan Sanders recounts her experience working alongside producer Sebastian Gomes as they prepare to launch The Church Alive, a television series dedicated to #TheNewEvangelization. Read Cheridan’s experience  below: 


When we sat down to write The Church Alive series, Sebastian Gomes and I considered the state of affairs inside and outside the Church. Presumably, if we were going to evangelize we’d have to understand what’s going on. Needless to say, I quickly realized this ‘New Evangelization’ was a topic of gargantuan proportions. But as is the case with all things Catholic, we’re rarely (actually never) left without the resources to meet the challenge.  After 2,000 years of existence there is hardly a question that hasn’t already been tackled by men and women considerably holier and more intelligent. That said, the help we needed was right there in front of us. Literally.

Let me explain. For those of you who haven’t had the privilege of working with Sebastian aka ‘Prof. Gomes’, there is one thing you should know.

There are few things, no scratch that, there is nothing that Sebastian loves to talk about more than theSecond Vatican Council.   I do not exaggerate when I say that he has no less than three hard copies of the The Second Vatican Council documents (with notes and commentaries) on his desk see, Exhibit 1 below. And he reads them often, and out-loud to anyone within earshot. Eccentric? Maybe. Enlightening? Definitely.

Exhibit A. 

Vatican Council Sebastian

OK, so there aren’t three copies pictured here, but that’s only because Sebastian is out of the office and he always carries one set with him at all times.


So that’s what I mean when I say that the resources were right there in front of us: they were on Sebastian’s desk.

My point is, I’ve studied these documents at university but they weren’t exactly bedtime reading for me. Obviously I didn’t fully appreciate their value. Although I’m sure I’m not alone in making that mistake. All kidding aside, I insist that you read these. They really are all that and a bag of chips. But don’t take my word for it, take Pope Benedict’s who said they are the “Magna Carta” for the Church today.

The Church Alive is our modest attempt to share with you some the treasures found within the documents of the Second Vatican Council and we’ve published a 75 page study guide to accompany the series, so you too can benefit from all of Sebastian’s bedtime reading, ahem, I mean research. And for fun, remember this?

The Church Alive is now available for $59.95.

Throwback Thursday: The Church Alive Wins 2014 Gabriel Award




Remember when S+L producers Cheridan Sanders and Sebastian Gomes won a 2014 Gabriel Award for Best Religious Series for The Church Alive? Check out the post below from early June:

Salt + Light Television was once again recognized by the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals and was awarded the prestigious Gabriel Award for the fifth time since the network’s inception in 2003. The Church Alive, a fast-paced, segmented and interactive show on Salt +Light hosted by producers Cheridan Sanders and Sebastian Gomes, was named Best Religious Series for the 2014 season.

An international Vatican-approved organization for communication, the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals began the Gabriel Awards in 1965. Each year the Gabriel Awards celebrate and honour excellence in film, television, radio and other communication projects that serve audiences “through the positive, creative treatment of concerns to humankind.” This year, winners will recognize at the Gabriel Awards banquet of the Catholic Media Conference in Charlotte, NC on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

Panes of Glory

Past Gabriel Awards for Salt + Light include:

    • 2014-Best Religious Series The Church Alive
    • 2012-Best Arts Documentary for Panes of Glory
    • 2011-Religious Television Station of the Year
    • 2008-Television Station of the Year
    • 2009-Television Station of the Year





The Church Alive is available for purchase now at the S+L store! Get your copy today for $59.99! The_church_alive_cover


Who was Paul VI and what was his legacy?

This weekend we’ll celebrate the conclusion of the 2014 Synod on the Family and the beatification of the Pope Paul VI. The Church that we know today is deeply shaped by the Second Vatican Council and is in many ways a reflection of Paul VI’s pontificate. Watch this short video tribute to the ‘Pilgrim Pope’ to learn about his pontificate.

To learn more about Paul VI and his contribution to the Second Vatican Council, watch The Church Alive.

Pope Paul VI waves starting flag for Tour of Italy, 1974


Pope Paul VI waves the starting flag for the Tour of Italy cycling race from the St. Damasus courtyard at the Vatican in this May 16, 1974, file photo. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano) 

To learn more about the Pope Paul VI and the documents he promulgated, watch The Church Alive series.


Taking up the challenge!

TCA1 - cropped Salt and Light Producers Cheridan Sanders and Sebastian Gomes review the script of an episode of The Church Alive, a series dedicated to Vatican II and the New Evangelization.  The 13-part series, was filmed at the CBC studios in downtown Toronto.

Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI was the last Bishop of Rome to participate in the Second Vatican Council during the 1960’s.  Fifty years after that historic event, the Catholic Church is undertaking a universal initiative called the “new evangelization.”  In September, 2012, only five months before his resignation, Pope Benedict told a group of visiting bishops to the Vatican that the new evangelization “started precisely with the Second Vatican Council.”  The two cannot be separated and any serious work of the new evangelization has to find its roots in the documents of Vatican II.  Salt and Light accepted this challenge produced The Church Alive, a series based on the themes of the council.  Episodes include: Catholic Education, Economics, Religious Liberty, the Media, and Ecology. This show is now available on DVD and is a great resource for teach for all who want to learn more about the Council.

Saint John XXIII – Six maxims of perfection

Sebastian Gomes and I recently came across a diary entry of Saint Pope John XXIII entitled “Six maxims of perfection” in his autobiography Journal of a Soul. Some of you may recall that from the age of fourteen until his death at the age of eighty-two, Pope John XXIII kept a journal where he recorded his growth in holiness. Elected Pope at the age of seventy-eight, he impressed the world with the breadth of his mind but also with his simplicity and his will to be at the service of others. In the Ep 1. of The Church Alive What is the New Evangelization? we feature Good Pope John and we thought you’d find his thoughts as inspiring and delightful as we did.

1. Desire only to be virtuous and holy, and so be pleasing to God.

2. Direct all things, thoughts as well as actions, to the increase, the service and the glory of Holy Church.

3. Recognize that I have been set here by God, and therefore remain perfectly serene about all that happens, not only as regards myself but also with regard to the Church, continuing to work and suffer with Christ, for her good.

4. Entrust myself at all times to Divine Providence.

5. Always acknowledge my own nothingness.

6. Always arrange my day in an intelligent and orderly manner.

The Church Alive visits the Big Apple

team with Dolan

Thought we’d dig this one out of our photo archives for you. It’s a snapshot of our visit to the Archdiocese of New York during our filming for The Church Alive series and Go and Teach documentary.This photo was taken after a fantastic interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is featured in both shows.

Left to Right: Sebastian Gomes, Cheridan Sanders, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Photo credit: David LeRoss

Know the Scriptures, know Christ

At Salt and Light, we make a concerted effort to keep alive the memory of the Second Vatican Council. It’s not, as some might think, because we appreciate history. It’s because we look to the future.

Those Catholics who are familiar with the history and context of Vatican II and with the sixteen official documents it produced can appreciate the courage and wisdom of the Council Fathers to construct a road map for our times on essential issues like the Church in the modern world (Gaudium et Spes) and the role of the Laity in the life of the church (Apostolicam Actuositatem).

But, interestingly enough, a strong argument can be made, and is made, for the primacy of another Council document that at first may not appear to be particularly novel.  It’s the document on Divine Revelation, the word of God (Dei Verbum).

Today access to the Scriptures is taken for granted. We even hear Pope Francis regularly instructing the faithful to carry a little book of the Gospels around, “in your purse, in your pocket, and read a passage from the Gospel during the day.” (Morning homily, Sept. 1, 2014)

But widespread reading and study of the Scriptures is a modern phenomenon. It was indeed a development when in 1965 the Council Fathers urged all Christians:

“…to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the “excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:8). “For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Therefore, they should gladly put themselves in touch with the sacred text itself, whether it be through the liturgy, rich in the divine word, or through devotional reading, or through instructions suitable for the purpose and other aids…” (Dei Verbum, 25)

This document on Divine Revelation is not merely one element of the ecclesial vision of Vatican II. It is a cornerstone, precisely because it is a perpetual starting point; with the Scriptures a church can always be built.

At the same time, there is the great challenge today of educating Christians about the Scriptures. Valid questions from our contemporaries can be asked of any of us: how well do you know the Scriptures? What does it mean to know the Scriptures? How do you interpret the vicissitudes of history in light of the Scriptures? What do the Scriptures say in the context of our world today? How are they unique from other religious texts or holy books?

In our educational series The Church Alive, the Scriptures are brought to life in the context of our ongoing discussion on the New Evangelization. The accompanying study guide contains thirteen in-depth biblical reflections for personal use or group study sessions. It was natural for us to include this most essential element in the project. As the Bishops at the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization wrote:

“Frequent reading of the Sacred Scriptures… is not only necessary for knowing the very content of the Gospel, which is the person of Jesus in the context of salvation history. Reading the Scriptures also helps us to discover opportunities to encounter Jesus, truly evangelical approaches rooted in the fundamental dimensions of human life: the family, work, friendship, various forms of poverty and the trials of life.” (Message to the People of God, 4)

Today there are all kinds of programs and self-help initiatives designed to help people live more deeply meaningful or happy lives. In the Church we are encouraged to practice spiritual exercises, to participate in the sacraments and pray on a daily basis.  An informed and educated frequent reading of the Scriptures should be near the top of that list.  And remember, there are two moments of encounter with the Real Presence at Mass: in the Eucharist, and in the word of God.