May 10, 2013

Evangelization Supplement

Catholic radio evangelizes non-Catholics and Catholics alike

In this file photo, Jim Ganley, station manager of Catholic Radio Indy 89.1 and 90.9 FM, works in the station’s production studio in Indianapolis. Catholic radio stations across central and southern Indiana continue to be an effective tool of evangelization. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

In this file photo, Jim Ganley, station manager of Catholic Radio Indy 89.1 and 90.9 FM, works in the station’s production studio in Indianapolis. Catholic radio stations across central and southern Indiana continue to be an effective tool of evangelization. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Natalie Hoefer

In a world where today’s innovation quickly becomes tomorrow’s dinosaur, Catholic radio has remained a consistent, fruitful tool for evangelization.

For Travis Gilmour, Catholic radio waves watered the seed of his call to Catholicism.

The seed was planted by a friend, who consistently invited the strayed Protestant to Mass at St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute.

Once Gilmour relented, he was impressed and wanted to know more about the Catholic faith.

“Early on, I noticed an ad in the bulletin for [Terre Haute Catholic radio station 99.1 FM] WHOJ. I had a bit of a commute to work at the time, so I thought I’d listen.”

Gilmour listened his way right into the Church, joining in 2005.

“Catholic radio was really important to me becoming Catholic,” he said. “I started hearing the same questions I had on the live call-in shows. As a guy, I didn’t want to ask a question because I was afraid it might be stupid. So it was nice to hear those same questions on the radio where I was just listening. And the answers were coming from smart, well-informed people.”

WHOJ station manager Mike Moroz sees anonymity as one of the advantages of Catholic radio as an evangelization medium. (Related: Three full-time, one part-time Catholic radio stations available within archdiocese)

“It’s a tool where if someone has left the faith or isn’t Catholic, where else will they get so many answers so easily? It’s non-threatening. It’s not like someone just walking into Mass who doesn’t know anything or is afraid that someone will see them,” he said. “They can listen privately and hear answers. If that’s not evangelization, I don’t know what is.”

The same questions, answers and other information on Catholic radio that can lead non-Catholics like Gilmour to the Church, can also reignite the faith of practicing Catholics.

While he never stopped attending Mass, Mark Schmalz of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brazil found himself desiring to grow in his Catholic faith after a divorce.

“There weren’t a lot of good places to get answers. Then, here came Catholic radio. I learned more and more, and I started buying tapes and videos,” said Schmalz, who listens to Catholic radio station 89.1 FM WSPM out of Indianapolis and Cloverdale.

Catholic radio helps Catholics like Schmalz and Gilmour not just to grow in their own faith, but to evangelize others as well.

“To this day, I listen to Catholic radio,” Gilmour said. “And now it’s come full circle because the questions I hear on the radio reflect the questions my family and people at work ask me. So I’m better equipped to answer them.”

In a society where so many get their news from secular sources, Catholic radio is imperative, said Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate Father Elias Mary Mills. He helps operate Catholic radio station 89.9 FM WOMB (With Our Mother Blest), an apostolate of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, whose friary is located at Mother of the Redeemer Retreat Center just west of Bloomington.

“We can reach [Indiana University] and get the truth to [the students],” he said, “so they can get the story of the Church from something besides the secular media.

“And I know students have been listening, because shortly after we started in August 2011, I heard an IU student call in to [one of the call-in shows].”

Catholic radio also evangelizes by broadcasting daily Mass.

“Shut-ins who can’t get to Mass every day like they’d want can still feel connected to the Church, even though they can’t physically go to a church,” said Father Elias.

But for Gilmour and Schmalz who are still mobile, they found that Catholic radio inspired them not just to go to Mass, but also to get involved in their parishes.

“If you’re doing your faith right, you should be drawn to do more than just go to Mass,” said Gilmour. “Catholic radio gets people excited about their faith and helps them realize [the Church] keeps working if we keep giving of our time and talents at the parish level.”

Gilmour is currently on his parish’s pastoral council and has served as a lector and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

Schmalz had the same experience.

“That’s what was behind me getting involved in the parish. Until I started listening to Catholic radio, I never got involved in anything,” he said. “Since then, I’ve been a religious education teacher, taught RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults], been on the parish council, lead rosary twice a month before Mass …” and more.

Bryan Weiss, a member of SS. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood, believes so strongly in Catholic radio as an evangelization tool that he made his business, Marian Financial Partners, Inc., an underwriter for the non-profit station 89.1 FM WSPM. Weiss also serves as a board member for the station, which is funded solely through listener donations, underwriters and fund raisers.

“[Catholic radio] is a very painless way to evangelize,” Weiss said. “You never know who you’re going to touch through the radio. I personally know several people who have converted to the faith from an evangelical Christian background who would never even talk to a Catholic. God used the radio station to convert them.”

“There’s nothing better for evangelization,” said Schmalz. “There’s so much you can learn from Catholic radio. I’d have it on my ears all day long if I could.” †

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