Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA (CCN) - When almost 90 Catholic bishops from across Canada gather for their annual plenary Oct. 17-22 in Cornwall, Ontario, for the first time Salt + Light TV will provide a live window on some of the proceedings.
"When we come together as a plenary, we get a unique view of where the church is today and where it is that our shepherds would like to lead us," said Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) General Secretary Msgr. Pat Powers. " I think that average Catholics in Canada have never really had a chance to even understand what goes on at a plenary meeting of the bishops or how that happens or how that takes place."
This year for the first time, Salt + Light TV (S+L), a Canadian digital Catholic network, will collaborate with the CCCB to offer streaming-video online via the revamped CCCB website and the S+L website and network portions of the proceedings.
"We want all people in Canada to have a glimpse of these important moments," Powers said.
Though only a day and a half of the plenary is open to the news media, S+L will provide streaming-video of outgoing CCCB President Saint-Jerome Bishop Pierre Morissette's address, the opening liturgies each day, and the reflections that Toulouse Archbishop Robert Le Gall will offer in French on the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations Sacramentum Caritatis (on the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Church's life and mission) and Verbum Domini (on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church).
S+L will also provide coverage of Morissette's closing remarks as he wraps up a two-year term as president as well as the new president Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith's statement at the close of the plenary.
Powers said the collaboration is made possible by a $250,000 investment in computers and technological infrastructure at the CCCB's Ottawa secretariat that will eventually allow the conference to offer even more live-streaming in subsequent plenaries, video conferencing and other up-to-date tools for the New Evangelization using the electronic media.
Several S+L staff will also be conducting interviews with bishops in the hallways of the Nav Canada Centre while the plenary goes on. The network has also produced a collage presentation of the events of the Church over the past year, including Canada's participation in World Youth Day and the canonization of St. Brother Andre.
"It is a great privilege for us at Salt + Light Television to be invited to televise and live stream many of the key moments of the upcoming Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cornwall," said Salt and Light Media Foundation CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica, who cited previous collaboration on the International Eucharistic Congress, the CCCB Doctrinal Commission's pastoral messages; World Youth Day (WYD) 2011 in Madrid, and now the 2011 Plenary.
"Salt + Light Television is at the service of the Canadian Church," he said. "I am very grateful to the Bishops of Canada, and particularly to the CCCB, for believing in us and supporting our work for the New Evangelization in Canada."
Though Rosica said the network has worked with the CCCB since its inception, even closer collaboration began under Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber's presidency and has continued under Morissette's term.
Powers notes that he and Rosica have been friends since they met in Rome while doing their post-graduate studies.
He noted that Rosica, who was CEO of World Youth Day (WYD) 2002 in Toronto, was asked to coordinate Canadian efforts for WYD in Madrid last summer. Powers described Rosica as "one of the most dedicated Canadian priests" who, despite all the other work he has to do, coordinated Canada's presence in Madrid and did not take a salary. He also involved members of his staff.
"He was completely selfless in his work for the Canadian bishops," Powers said. Rosica prepared a "wonderful report," he said, and has accepted a request to coordinate the Canadian presence at the 2013 WYD in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In Madrid, Rosica organized a morning prayer service that drew 22 Canadian bishops, almost 100 priests and 5,000 of the 6,000 pilgrims who had registered from Canada. It was the first official event of WYD, which was broadcast on S+L.
Rosica also organized a big screen presentation of the Stations of the Cross that was taking place in the streets, but hampered by poor visibility. Through social media word got out about the event, and 8,000 pilgrims came to the Palacio de Deportes for the viewing.
"Throughout the television presentation, there was total silence in the arena," Rosica wrote on the S+L blog. "And then, when we arrived at the death of Jesus on the Cross, something strange happened. It was almost like a wave that swept across the arena. Every single person rose from their seat and knelt down on the pavement."
"The sound of all of those wooden seats in the Palacio creaking and hitting the backs of the chairs, and the knowledge that a huge arena of people had suddenly knelt on the cold, concrete floor will remain with me," he wrote. "It was a poignant reminder of the deep Catholic culture that unites us all together at this blessed event of World Youth Day."
Photo credit: CCN/Deborah Gyapong