My friend Matthew Warner over at Fallible Blogma has asked me and other Catholic bloggers to introduce our readers to interesting and enlightening Catholic media personalities in an effort entitled “Support A Catholic Speaker Month”. By so doing he hopes to create what he refers to as a “rising tide”, linking these persons, as well as the Catholic blogging community, together and providing greater awareness of the wealth of Catholic new media resources available. In considering whom I would write about, I could not help but be drawn to one of the best exemplars of the Catholic new media movement, Father Roderick Vonhögen.
Catholics who know what a “fail whale”, RSS feed, or plurk is, are probably already very familiar with the work of the tech-savvy and ever-enthusiastic founder of the SQPN network, Father Roderick Vonhögen. Father Roderick was born in 1968 and is a priest of the Archdiocese of Utrecht in the Netherlands, currently assigned to the Dutch city of Amersfoort, where he is the lone pastor for several local parishes. In addition to his parochial work, he is a man who seems to have limitless energy to do just about everything he sets his mind to achieving.
Arguably Father Roderick’s most significant project is the Star Quest Production Network, more commonly referred to as SQPN, of which he is Chief Executive Officer. While studying in Rome in April 2005, Father Roderick began his first podcast entitled “The Catholic Insider”, describing what was going on as Pope John Paul II’s health declined, and later during the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. This got him the attention of the communication powers that be at the Vatican, and he assisted Vatican Radio in starting to produce their own podcast programming. Soon he and other Catholic podcasters gathered together to form SQPN, to promote Catholic new media communications as an evangelization tool to an increasingly technologically sophisticated audience.
When not recording his multi-award-winning podcast, “The Daily Breakfast”, writing his daily spiritual reflection for the Dutch Catholic press, or special programming related to topics ranging from Battlestar Galactica to Harry Potter, on a typical day Father Roderick seems to have more to do than I might even attempt in a reasonable lifetime. He might be found doing doctoral-level theological research, coordinating Catholic communications outreach to young people in his Archdiocese, training for a marathon, playing video games, updating his vast knowledge of films and television, or heading off to speak on Catholic new media in Australia, Belgium, or Texas. The amount of his output is simply extraordinary for one man, let alone a Catholic priest with multiple flocks to care for; I suspect that he and St. Paul would be somewhat kindred spirits.
Father Roderick’s podcasts reflect his boundless enthusiasm to reach out to those who are part of, or curious about, Holy Mother Church, in a way which other Catholic media outlets would do well to study. The SQPN website, including information about all of the network’s programming, is located at www.sqpn.com. Father Roderick’s own website can be visited at www.fatherroderick.com.