Prairie Messenger Catholic Journal - Peter Novecosky, OSB
The year 2012 marked the 10th anniversary of World Youth Day held in Toronto. That celebration planted a seed that continues to bear fruit today.
Basilian Father Tom Rosica, CEO of World Youth Day, was subsequently asked to head up a new Canadian Catholic television network. Backed by $15 million seed money from the Gaetano Gagliano family, founders of the St. Joseph Communications group, Rosica agreed to jump into this new venture, despite his lack of any media formation.
Drawing from the theme of World Youth Day, Rosica launched Salt + Light Television in 2003. He says he wanted to avoid the drawbacks of most religious broadcasting by appealing to and employing young people. “I didn’t just want to appeal to older people; I wanted it to be for younger people, and for younger people to be the stars,” he commented recently.
Salt + Light started out by mostly rebroadcasting a Vatican feed; a decade later, it partners with networks in the U.S. and Europe to provide round-the-clock programming. It is available in 2.6 million homes in Canada and is streamed round the clock on the Internet. Its website boasts about 2,500 videos available on demand, including 400 in Chinese. Salt + Light has expanded with a radio service, a blog, a glossy four-colour semiannual magazine with a circulation around 90,000, and an iPhone and android app.
As a sign of its maturity, Salt + Light has three times won the Gabriel Award from the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals in the U.S. The award honours work of excellence in film, network and cable television and radio programs, especially programs that uplift and nourish the human spirit.
Salt + Light is making available programming that would otherwide be unavailable. It was present at the dedication of the Holy Family Cathedral in Saskatoon in May 2012. For the second year in a row this September, Salt + Light broadcast live the general sessions of the annual plenary meeting of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. It has become a regular vistor to the annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, one of its supporters. At this fall’s Synod of Bishops on Evangelization in Rome, Rosica was appointed the English language Media Attaché and Salt + Light helped prepare the synod’s daily news reports. It also prepared two documentaries on the history of the synods of bishops. The network makes it a priority to tell the stories of new saints and blesseds, and it televises a mass each morning.
On this anniversary year, Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, congratulated Salt + Light for “the balanced information and faith-inspired insights that Salt + Light Catholic Television provides” to Canadians. A congratulatory message from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, “Your message is one of hope — featuring the church that is ‘alive and young.’ Salt and Light is living proof of the new evangelization at work.”
Rosica gives credit to the talented and energetic young Catholics who work with him at Salt + Light. For his accomplishments and initiatives, the Prairie Messenger names him Churchperson of the Year.
S+L photo/ Joshua Lanzarini