BOSTON — For more than a year now, St. Anthony Shrine here has been taking its ministry to the airways, offering a weekly show on Victory Radio.
Coordinated by Gary Maciag, OFM, the “Talk in the City” show features Gary interviewing guests, including fellow friars, on a wide variety of religious topics.
The show debuted in September 2008, after the shrine was asked by Victory Radio if it wanted to provide Christian broadcasting as part of the network’s Global Ministries channel.
“We had a meeting of friars here who were potentially interested in contributing to the program,” said Gary. “David Convertino, OFM, (shrine director) asked me to head up the effort, and Emeric Meier, OFM, and I had a series of discussions to plan the format. Once we had a good idea of the format we wanted, we launched the show Sept. 14.”
Gary chooses the show’s themes from several approaches. Sometimes he schedules guests and asks them what topic they want to speak on; other times he comes up with a topic and then finds a guest with a background in that area. “For example, Hugh Macsherry, OFM, was recently giving a talk on care of the environment based on the Canticle of the Creatures, so I asked him if he would be willing to do a version for the radio show.”
While Gary calls himself “a one-man show in terms of production,” recording and editing the show on his Macbook Pro, using Garage Band software, several friars have been guests, including David, Emeric, Hugh, Philip O’Shea, OFM, Flavian Walsh, OFM, Charles Finnegan, OFM, Raymond Mann, OFM, and Raphael Bonanno, OFM.
Gary, who came to Boston in 2007 from Siena College, said that the ministry helps take the work of the shrine into the community. “It is one more way of getting the message of the shrine out there. Since most of our ministries take place within the walls of the shrine, it is one method of getting beyond those walls.”
He added, “Since it’s primarily a talk show, I feel it is a way to educate listeners about various topics. Because some of these topics are ones they might think about anyway, such as Christmas and Easter, it is a chance to bring some new insights.”
Other topics, he said, are those that people don’t frequently think about but might benefit from hearing. “We did a program on the internal forum, discussing pastoral judgments, which might have given some help to people who are having trouble with their marriages.”
While it is difficult to know exactly what listeners are saying about the show, because the station doesn’t subscribe to ratings services for religion programs, Gary said feedback has been mostly positive.
“I know that the people who run Victory Radio have been favorably impressed with our program and feel that it has higher production values than a number of other programs,” he said.
Archived “Talk in the City” programs from both 2008 and 2009 are posted on the Web site of St. Anthony Shrine, which describes the show as “a mix of urban issues, Franciscan humor and great insights into the lives lived in the bustle of any American city.”
As of January 2010, the shrine has aired more than 60 programs. Recent topics have included Christmas past and present, “The Eastern Church,” “the Nativity and Mary,” “Forgiveness,” “Charles, Advent and the theology of the Incarnation,” and “David on philanthropy.”
The program broadcasts on WWZN 1510 AM in Boston and airs five days each week.
— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer based in Connecticut, is a frequent contributor to this newsletter.