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When Msgr. Lawrence Moran was a seminarian in the 1940s, he would often listen to radio broadcasts of then-Father Fulton J. Sheen.
The year before he was ordained, then-Bishop Sheen began his popular “Life is Worth Living” television show, which Msgr. Moran said that he watched when he was a young assistant pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis.
About 20 years later, Msgr. Moran began to follow in Bishop Sheen’s footsteps, appearing on locally produced shows about religion on television stations in Indianapolis.
And just recently, at age 84, he produced his 600th show for WHOJ 91.9 FM, a Catholic radio station in Terre Haute. (Related: Catholic radio is heard in many places across the archdiocese)
“What an inspiration,” said Msgr. Moran of Bishop Sheen. “I think [he] was an influence. I thought, ‘Gee, what an opportunity if a person could get on television.’ I think I got the inspiration from Bishop Sheen.”
Now at an age where he could easily rest on his laurels, Msgr. Moran keeps working in Catholic radio because he is convinced of its power to evangelize.
“It goes 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “It goes into people’s cars when they’re [going to] and coming from work. It goes into where they’re working. It goes into homes morning, noon and night.
“It’s just so available, and a person could be doing something else at the same time. I think it’s the greatest adult education program that we’ve ever offered.”
WHOJ is part of Covenant Network, a St. Louis-based group of 18 Catholic radio stations that stretch from North Dakota to Louisiana.
Much of its programming originates from EWTN Radio. But some stations, like WHOJ, also broadcast locally produced shows.
Tony Holman, general manager of Covenant Network, is amazed by Msgr. Moran’s dedication.
“I think he’s got the record within our network [and] probably in the country,” Holman said. “That’s a lot of shows. He is a wonderful, wonderful priest. We’re just honored to be associated with him. He’s got a lot of enthusiasm.”
Covenant Network was founded in 1997 when there were only about six Catholic radio stations nationwide. Now there are more than 150 stations, including five that can be heard within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
Msgr. Moran was pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute when WHOJ went on the air in 2004, and allowed the station to set up its studio in a small room at the parish’s rectory.
Although he had ministered in the media in the past, Msgr. Moran didn’t foresee the staying power and vitality of Catholic radio at the time.
“Protestants had used radio for years,” said Msgr. Moran, who retired from active ministry in 2005. “And we as Catholics had not been very much involved. Now it seems to be going the opposite way. But I didn’t think that it would go like this, and be so effective and helpful.”
Although Catholic radio stations keep popping up across the nation, they are often run by small groups of dedicated volunteers like Msgr. Moran and Mike Moroz, a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute.
When asked what he does at WHOJ, Moroz said, “I clean the toilets, sweep the floors, empty the wastebaskets, do the programming. Technically, it’s called station manager. But if you’re a manager of one, I don’t know what that means.”
When Covenant Network purchased WHOJ in 2004, Moroz, who had just retired from a career in the pharmaceutical industry and had no experience in radio, volunteered to help keep the station running.
An important part of that work since 2005 has been arranging interviews with the hundreds of people that Msgr. Moran has talked to on the air.
“Sitting across the table from Msgr. Moran for over 600 shows continually impresses me with his deep curiosity about the human condition,” Moroz said, “and exceptional sympathy for people, especially women and men whose lives have been devastated by past abortions.”
When asked about his on-air perseverance at WHOJ, Msgr. Moran gives the credit to Moroz.
“It’s so worthwhile because the people that Mike gets for me to interview are from all over the country,” Msgr. Moran said. “A lot of people [are] working on the front lines of the pro-life movement.
“It’s hard to imagine that he set up 600 opportunities for us to be on the radio.”
Moroz keeps his focus on WHOJ’s listeners.
“Sometimes when we’re in the rectory doing recording, we’ll get people calling in to [parish staff members] saying that they hadn’t been to church in 20 years, but they heard the radio station and wanted to know how to come back,” Moroz said. “There’s no way of really telling the whole numbers of what’s out there, but there’s a lot of that stuff going on.” †