By Deacon John DeGano
Wintry weather has arrived.
I know this because the days are getting shorter, the weather a bit nippier, and the glow of Christmas lights entices me to spend less time scurrying ‘out and about’ and more time ‘nesting.’
For some, nesting means baking; cleaning the house in time for elaborate holiday parties; or just curling up in a comfortable chair in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace and reading a good or favorite book. It can also be a time for reflection and re-connecting with old friends… both human and otherwise.
Perhaps it’s a sign of aging, but in my nostalgia, I chose the latter definition. And instead of a particular person or book, I chose a VHS tape.
Yes, I said “VHS!”
I am teaching adult confirmation this year in my parish, and wanted to use a video on ‘The Church’ to supplement what I had been covering for the past several weeks in class.
Learning from our director of religious education (DRE) that we no longer had a particular film we once used, I began to reflect and shared with her what my wife, Cheryl, and I had used some ten or fifteen years before when we were part of the RCIA process for adults.
I wondered what had happened to these ‘old friends,’ many we had not seen since the mid-2000s. And as I gave thanks to God for the amazing team of dedicated RCIA directors and facilitators who, over the years, had trained us and shared their own favorite stories and films along the way, I found myself on a quest.
I called the Diocesan Pastoral Center and was connected with Manny, the keeper of the videotapes. Manny had my ‘friend’ safely stored in a cardboard ‘banker’s box’ that had been marked for storage and I was able to show it to my class that very evening. It was everything I had remembered and more.
In my excitement I brought it back and immediately played it for both my DRE and my Director of Youth Ministries (neither of whom had ever seen it before).
“On this Rock” is a tour of Vatican City, its people, its facilities, etc. It was made in 1986 but still managed to send shivers up my arms when the video’s announcer describes the apostle Peter as ‘a personal friend of Jesus Christ.’
The video must have spoken to my students, as well. When the film ended, they broke out in spontaneous (and un-coerced!) applause. Something I had not seen before… The next day, it was repeated when it was shown to a group of teens.
A new generation had been introduced to my friend, and had been touched by this humble, but proud little 30-minute videotape.
Manny is now permanently listed on my speed-dial.
Why, you might ask, is that?
The answer is there are many, many more dear friends just waiting to be re-discovered and re-introduced to a new generation. A generation that is eager to discover Jesus Christ, in this, our Year of Faith.
John DeGano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.
PUBLISHED IN THE DECEMBER 2012-JANUARY 2013 INLAND CATHOLIC BYTE