By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor
FAIRHAVEN, Mass. — Every picture is worth a thousand words, and the millions of words emanating from the five 2015 Catholic Charities Appeal videos tell stories of hope, courage, faith, healing, compassion, and the day-to-day living out of Jesus’ Beatitudes from His beloved Sermon on the Mount.
For 74 years the Fall River diocesan Catholic Charities Appeal has been serving those in need from the Attleboros through Taunton, New Bedford, Fall River, Cape Cod and the Islands, and everywhere in between.
The annual Appeal is the source of renewals, new lives, and second chances for thousands of individuals who, for one reason or another, are in dire straits and are in need of the assistance of their brothers and sisters.
This year’s campaign begins, as it usually does, with kickoff events and extremely informative and moving video testimonies of those who help and those who are being helped. And sometimes former helpers are the ones being helped today by the generous donations to the Appeal.
This year, the diocesan Development Office, under director James Campbell, media production expert Dave Fortin, of Media Image Productions, Inc. based out of Fairhaven, and newly-installed Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., have collaborated to show faithful across the diocese, “What We Do.”
The videos, which have been shown at regional kickoff events and at some churches, are recorded in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and are directed towards those living in towns in each of the five diocesan deaneries; Attleboro, Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford, and Cape Cod and the Islands.
Each of the videos begin with a brief montage of Bishop da Cunha’s life, beginning in Brazil and ending up in the Fall River Diocese. “Even though I have been here for a short time,” Bishop da Cunha tells viewers, “I have come to know and love the people that God has entrusted to my pastoral care.”
The bishop continues, “As you join us in this mission of service, I hope that you will find joy in the Lord’s call to share your gifts with our needy brothers and sisters.”
“The collaboration with Bishop da Cunha and Dave Fortin has been tremendous,” Campbell told The Anchor. “Dave is a tremendous producer and Bishop da Cunha has added so much of his own input into the videos.”
“Putting together the media for the Catholic Charities Appeal is a huge undertaking,” Fortin told The Anchor. “We work closely with Jim Campbell and his staff, along with John Kearns in the Communications office. This year we created three different ‘kickoff’ videos, which were around 16 minutes long. I’ll edit a fourth version, which combines all three, for use on the Catholic Social Services website. We then create a shorter ‘church’ version, which runs around six minutes, for each of the five deaneries (a sixth version is edited for use on the TV Mass). We also edit separate Portuguese and Spanish videos, for each of the five deaneries. When you add the two ‘half-hour’ cable TV/public access versions, it totals 21 different video programs.”
Fortin added that for parishes that don’t use video, they have created “a different audio sermon for each deanery, in each of the three languages, totaling 15 different CDs.”
In each of the productions is contained heart-warming stories and images of people helping people, all funded by people. Whether it be individuals who are assisted by Catholic Social Services’: St. Clare’s in Hyannis, a sober transitional housing for women who are coming out of incarceration; the Donovan House and Sister Rose House in New Bedford offering transitional housing for women and their children and a short-term homeless shelter respectively; or the Samaritan House in Taunton, a transitional homeless shelter; the reaction of those assisted is quite similar — gratitude for the help received thanks to people they don’t even know.
In the videos, Bishop da Cunha is seen talking and praying with residents of these residences, putting into action this year’s Appeal slogan, “Feed the Hungry, Shelter the Homeless, Comfort the Sorrowful, in His Name ... It’s What We Do.”
The videos target each area and who the Appeal helps in that region. The examples are numerous: hospital chaplaincy, the parish Christmas program, campus ministry, the weekly TV Mass, adoption services, the permanent diaconate program, the Hispanic Apostolate, the Office for Persons with Disabilities, English as a Second Language, GED programs, citizenship classes, CYO sports programs, and the annual high school youth convention, to name some.
The videos not only tell personal stories, but also share the heartfelt “thank yous” from those directly affected.
“In the videos we reference Archbishop Oscar Romero’s Prayer, particularly the line, ‘We plant the seeds that one day will grow,’” said Campbell. “For me, it’s not something that came out of the blue. I’ve had that prayer on my refrigerator for a long time.”
Campbell pointed out that thousands feel the compassion and assistance made possible through the Catholic Charities Appeal, and “it’s because of the parishes in this diocese,” he said. “I am so grateful for the support for the diocesan parishes. They make the Appeal successful. We are so dependent on them and it’s the parishes that make the difference in all these lives.”
During each of the videos, Bishop da Cunha warmly invites the faithful from across the Diocese of Fall River to be a part of this “mission of service.”
“No matter how large or small your contribution may be,” he said, “you can, by this one act, live your faith by helping others experience the same love of God that blesses us all.”
Fortin told The Anchor that to complete the mission for this year’s Catholic Charities Appeal videos and audios, “We shot more than 15 hours of video at 25 different locations. We conducted 55 on-camera interviews. There were 15 audio programs totaling more than an hour-and-three-quarters; 21 video programs totaling more than three hours. It took about 200 hours of post-production audio and video editing to piece it all together.”
The messages have been spoken and the pictures have been taken. The success of the 2015 Catholic Charities Appeal now depends on the hard work and dedication of the diocese’s parishes and generous faithful.
To view the videos or for more information on the 2015 Catholic Charities Appeal, visit frdioc-catholiccharities.org, or call the Development Office at 508-675-1311.