>Things for You to Read – Or Hear

>This being a Friday before a long bank holiday weekend, gentle reader, allow me to share a few brief snippets with you, rather than my usual tome, so I can get some things put away on this desk:

– I’ve been asked to write a guest piece, more or less dealing with sacred and profane love in art, for a local DC blog’s St. Valentine’s Day edition. More news to follow, assuming that the resulting piece is accepted by the editors. Of course if you would like me to write a guest piece for YOUR blog or publication, I am at your service.

– The big news today, of course, is the Vatican’s announcement on Pope John Paul II’s beatification, which will take place on May 1st of this year. I never had the privilige of meeting JPII; the closest I ever came was attending a Papal Mass celebrated by him in Camden Yards. As with many adult Catholics under 40, I grew up not knowing of any pope *but* JPII. He often had horrific taste in vestments and liturgy (even for someone like me who is not by any means a Latin mass aficionado), and he was a bit too ecumenical at times for my personal taste. However, bringing down Soviet Communism is nothing to be sneezed at, and the personal saintliness recognized in him by those who knew him has clearly been borne out.

– I do not yet have the pleasure of knowing Lauren Warner, but her husband the redoubtable Matt Warner over at Fallible Blogma has become a friend over the past couple of years. Matt works tirelessly to connect faithful young Catholics through blogging and social media. Matt and Lauren recently added a new member to their family, their daughter Katherine Grace, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. In a very thoughtful (and beautifully photographed) piece, Lauren introduces us to their little one in a post which I am sure you will find touching and inspiring. God knew that this little girl was going to need a very special family to take care of her, and He clearly found the right one.

– Regular readers know of my love for the SQPN podcast “Catholic in a Small Town”, hosted by Mac and Katherine Barron. Through their podcast I learnt of another which I heartily recommend to you, called “Just A Catholic Dad”, which is hosted by Sean McCarney. Sean is an air traffic controller in England, a practicing Catholic, married and with a very bright and charming three-year-old daughter who occasionally gets some time on the show (at the very least in the beginning promo.) He talks about family life, trying to raise his daughter in the Faith, and gives his views on news in the Church and in society which, for those of us living on this side of the pond, often provides a very interesting perspective as to how Europeans are seeing things. Having chatted with him last evening I know that he is at work on Episode #25, but with a long and sleety weekend ahead of us, why not spend some time catching up with his past episodes?

Detail from “The Astronomer” by Vermeer (c. 1668)
Louvre, Paris

Support A Catholic Speaker Month

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.