Saying Goodbye to Catholic Weekend

It is never easy to make this sort of announcement, but one must do one’s best.

Over the past two years it has been a great honor and privilege for me to work with some truly wonderful people over at the Star Quest Production Network (“SQPN”) on the “Catholic Weekend” show.  For those of my readers who are unfamiliar with it, Catholic Weekend is a videocast/podcast, where a group of Catholic friends get together via Google Hangout and talk about all sorts of topics: the news of the day, what is going on in their lives, etc.  Many times there are also interesting guests who join the show to discuss their own latest adventures and projects.  There is much laughter and teasing, but there is also a lot of love and good will.

However, I recently told my co-hosts and our CEO Father Roderick Vonhögen that I need to step down from co-hosting the show.  This was not an easy decision, but one which was made through careful consideration.  Much as I enjoy hanging out with these great people every week, I need to find some more free time in my own life to figure out where I am heading, on a number of fronts, and took the decision that this was the most practical way for me to do so.  Stepping down from the regular Saturday morning coffee klatch is saddening, quite frankly, but it will allow me a block of time I would not otherwise have, for matters that need my attention.

I want to thank Father Roderick, Jeff Nielsen, and Maria Johnson of SQPN in particular, for agreeing to take a chance on me as an unknown broadcast quantity.  When I joined the show I had no experience of broadcasting whatsoever, having only done public speaking as a lawyer in a courtroom, or as a lector at church.  Whatever abilities I have gained with respect to being able to speak off-the-cuff to an audience, with no prepared opening statement or reading from the Book of Sirach before me, are due in large part to their example and influence.  And the opportunity to address a large group of people at the Catholic New Media Conference in Boston a few months ago was really a privilege and eye-opening for me, not only in terms of personal experience, but also for seeing what wonderful, good people are associated with SQPN.

I must also thank my co-hosts Steve Nelson, Angela Sealana, and Sarah Vabulas for their friendship, support, and humor during my time at Catholic Weekend.  They have been more like siblings than co-workers to me, and I shall miss working with them, as one misses a sibling who moves across the country, not knowing when you will see each other next.  Thank you also to our fearless and patient producers over the past two years, initially Inge Loots and later Lyn Francisco, who were a tremendous help in getting the show going out in one piece, whatever trainwrecks may befall us along the way.  They took the time to make sure that any links I wanted to put in the show notes, in order to support people and things I care about, were accurate and there for our listeners to reference.

And finally I must thank the listeners, who stuck around over the past two years to hear what I might have to say.  A number have also become friends through social media, which means we will still be in touch, even though I am no longer on the show.  And of course, SQPN is a network which encourages the use of new media to make these kinds of connections, so there will be plenty of opportunities to both enjoy their programming and share feedback together in the future.

As to that future, I am not sure what I will do next, but then this is precisely why I need some time for reflection over at the Fortress of Solitude.  It will be odd actually *listening* to Catholic Weekend again, which is something I have not downloaded since I joined the show.  It will also be odd not to be sitting there, laughing with these folks on-air about a well-placed joke, or some silly technical snafu, a/k/a “The Betty Rubble Incident”.

Yet I wish them well, as I know from their very kind messages of support to me that they wish me well also.  As a community of believers, we are never truly separated from one another if we try to live in Christian love.  For His example of love, which guides SQPN and the efforts of those who work on Catholic Weekend, is typified by its constancy and perseverance, no matter what happens.  I have seen it, first-hand, in the people I have worked with on the Catholic Weekend show. And that love is something which I will be taking away with me as I go.  God bless you, kids.

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Tomorrow: Celebrate SQPN’s Catholic Weekend Episode 200!

Tomorrow, Saturday November 30th, beginning around 10am Eastern, we will be recording the 200th episode of the Catholic Weekend show on SQPN, and I hope you can join us!

Catholic Weekend is a community-based show, in which we regulars and our guests discuss what is going on around the world and at home, with a lot of laughter and humor interspersed with our more serious discussions.  During the recording of the program our viewers/listeners get to watch us recording on the Catholic Weekend homepage via livestream video feed.  They can also participate with us and other listeners in a dedicated chatroom on the site, which we often check and refer to during the broadcast.

To mark the occasion, we are asking our listeners and past guests to send in feedback recalling some of their favorite memories of the show over the past 200 episodes.  You can do so in the form of audio files, voicemail, or email:

Audio Files/Email: CatholicWeekend@SQPN.com

Voicemail Feedback Line: (862) 200-SQPN

If you have never caught an episode of Catholic Weekend before, tomorrow would be a great time to drop by.  Even if you are not Catholic, over the last few years there have been a number of very memorable moments on the show, in terms of guests, stories, and even just plain silliness, which you may enjoy listening to.  This anniversary episode will give a great overview of what we try to do at SQPN to create an online community, particularly through this program where listeners and viewers can join in regularly, or just dip into when they have time.  Even if you can’t stay for the whole show, video of the episode will be uploaded to the Catholic Weekend YouTube page so you can watch it later, and the edited audio of the podcast will be made available in iTunes.

I have been tremendously grateful for the opportunity to co-host Catholic Weekend for nearly two years now, as it has given me the chance to meet many smart, fascinating people, who do their best to integrate their Catholic faith into their daily lives.  It’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long already, particularly since I started out just as a listener downloading the podcast and periodically sending in feedback.  I certainly never intended to get involved in putting out a weekly show, but obviously Someone Upstairs had other plans.

So this is a good time for me to take a moment to thank Father Roderick Vonhögen, our CEO at SQPN, and my co-hosts Jeff Nielsen, Maria Johnson, Steve Nelson, and Angela Sealana, for not only becoming my friends, but continuing to prove themselves wonderful resources for fun, inspiration, encouragement, and growth.  It is not easy to be a Catholic in the present age, when practicing the Christian faith is something so much of the world does not like or understand.  Yet knowing there are good people doing their best to struggle along with you, makes this show and the relationships which have grown out of it very special to me indeed.

Thank you all, for the great experiences we’ve shared so far, and Happy 200th to Catholic Weekend!

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Scribbles from the Courtier

Taking a page from the multi-talented Margaret Perry over at 10kP, I felt it only fair to try to placate my readers with a few notes until I find a bit more time to write a proper blog post.  Looking at the last publication date I realize I have been remiss in writing, but when you do not write for a living – well, not this sort of material, anyway – often real life gets in the way of intellectual pursuits and ruminations.  Therefore please accept this small selection of thoughts until I have a chance to return to normal.

– One of the reasons things have been a bit out of the ordinary of late are the preparations for the upcoming wedding of a good friend.  There are many things that need doing, from the bachelor party to what happens while the couple are away on honeymoon, and this must all be completed in one’s spare time away from the office and other necessary obligations such as eating, sleeping, and attending church.  Some years ago, I rather unfortunately let down a friend of mine who was about to get married, and although our friendship had significantly faded by the time he married, it cam about through a combination of impossible circumstances which led to things ending badly between us.  So although I cannot repair the damage done there, this time I am making sure that I do things properly, hopefully with the maturity and thoughtfulness which I certainly lacked 15 years ago.

– It has been announced that there will be two – yes, TWO – Catholic New Media Conferences this year, sponsored by SQPN, the Star Quest Production Network.  For those who are unaware, for over a year now I have been a regular panelist on the “Catholic Weekend” show on the network, which is an often funny, occasionally serious, discussion of news and happenings of the week in the Catholic world.  This year’s U.S. conference will be held in Boston the weekend of October 19-20, and at least at the moment I plan to attend.  In addition, for the first time SQPN is holding a conference abroad, in Melbourne, Australia on the weekend of September 2-3.  I won’t be attending that one, but if you know of Catholics interested in new media and social media in Australia, I would encourage them to attend.

– Speaking of which, I did a major overhaul of my aggregate website, http://wbdnewton.com to try to make it more interesting, while still being a place to show what I have been working on.  Any feedback you can provide would be most gratefully appreciated.  I am still fidgeting around with some of the different photo choices.

– If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am doing a series of humorous AVI’s – that’s Twitterspeak for “avatar” or “profile picture” – called “Superman at Home”, in which I don the famous suit and do rather mundane things.  For those of you who use Pinterest, you can now enjoy a gallery of these pictures for your re-pinning entertainment.  On the 1st of each month I change my Twitter avatar and pin a new picture to the Pinterest board, and so far we have seen Superman brushing his teeth, ironing his cape, and crushing his tax returns.  This all stems from my Halloween experience back in 2011, which I wrote about on this blog, though the outgrowth from that experience has turned into a great way to connect with people on social media.  So many of the things I write about on here tend to be rather heavy, and often get the comment that I was somehow intimidating when that certainly is not my intent in these pages, that I wanted to show that I do not take myself overly seriously.  I can and do laugh at myself all the time, and now you can too.

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Detail of “Portrait of a Young Man with a Book” by Agnolo Bronzino  (c. 1525)
Private Collection