Catholics should be face of God, TV bishop says

By Christine Bordelon

“Use your blinker” is a phrase indicating how drivers show what direction they are heading. In his native Boston accent, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Reed wielded those words Oct. 4 to challenge those attending the annual Willwoods Prayer breakfast to evaluate if people could tell that they were true believers of Christ by how they lived their lives.

“What direction are you going? What direction are we going? ‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said. Follow Christ, empowered and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Follow Christ and don’t keep it a secret. Use your blinker,” Bishop Reed said.

He lauded the Willwoods’ advocates who believe in its mission to support marriage and family, supply affordable housing and spread the Catholic faith through WLAE-TV. But, he pointed out that being a disciple of Christ is an ongoing process of conversion where improvements can always be made.

Bishop Reed said the prayer breakfast was an experience of God, where the Holy Spirit was present just as he was at Pentecost in the upper room filling the disciples with fire.
Even with everyone’s personal concerns and world crises including “such frequent and frightening occurrences like the Las Vegas massacre, we seek to have the fire of the Holy Spirit re-ignited within us. … We are all here today because we want to be fulfilled in our life, obviously, but we want to be successful in the practice of our faith.”

He said he hoped their takeaway from his talk with them was to practice what’s heard at the dismissal for Mass: “Go – you are sent. Glorify the Lord by your life. … You and I are missionaries in a real sense. But you’ve got to ‘use your blinker’. People need to know who it is we are following and where we are going.”

“I believe that Jesus is our only hope. Are you with me?” Bishop Reed asked. “Yes,” the audience replied.

Bishop Reed said he considers helping each other get to heaven life’s most important task.

“God has great plans for every single one of you and me,” he said. “We don’t know how our lives will turn out. We struggle, try to make good choices and, through all of this, the Holy Spirit is our advocate helping each one of us discover God’s dream, God’s plan for each one of us.”

Bishop Reed believes each individual is God’s work of art, and God wants each person to be the best version of his or her self.

“Our Catholic faith, the sacraments and this unity that you share at this gathering are tools that God gives us to grow with real hope, to help us to get to heaven,” he said. “It allows us to help each other to get to heaven. I think we need to display a greater passion for who we are and who we are becoming because we have been given so much – the gift of our faith, our Catholic faith, the faith that is wholly true.

“Since we have been so gifted, should we not be most passionate about projecting that understanding of life? People need to see that passion in us, as we live in joyful hope because of his passion.”

Has always served in Boston

Bishop Reed was ordained a Catholic priest in 1985 and holds an advanced degree in television management from Boston University’s College of Communication. He became auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Boston in 2016, is a pastor at Good Shepherd Parish, has the oversight of 64 parishes and is president and CEO of ICatholic Media Inc, the umbrella organization that includes CatholicTV.

Directing CatholicTV since 2005, he oversees the “creation and acquisition and delivery of increasingly diverse and high-quality Catholic programming from around the nation and the world.”

He also is director of the Radio Apostolate for the Archdiocese of Boston and is author of “Renewed: Ten Ways to Rediscover the Saints and Embrace Your Gifts and Revive Your Catholic Faith.”

He said he sees the Catholic TV Network as a way to show the riches of the Catholic faith.

“Our hope is that we can show the face of the church across the country,” Bishop Reed said. “We use the tag line ‘America’s Catholic Television Network’ because that really is our mission – to show how the church is present and growing and sustaining people and evangelizing all throughout the country. When we acquire or produce programming, it is to that end.”

CatholicTV airs on WLAE

WLAE-TV’S vice president and general manager Ron Yager said he knew that Catholic TV was popular when he added it to programming in December 2012, but he didn’t understand its true reach until the digital channels were taken off air due to WLAE moving in 2016.

“Phone calls and emails came in asking when Catholic TV would be back on the air,” Yager said. It is seen by more than 13.5 million homes and has a website with 24-hour live streaming.

CatholicTV’s draw is Bishop Reed, whom Yager calls “a rock star.”

Bishop Reed is seen often on CatholicTV celebrating many of the network’s Masses, praying the rosary, hosting the game show “Wow: The Catholic TV Challenge,” the reality television series “House+Home,” the interview series “Inter Nos” and a regular co-host on the talk show “This is the Day.”

Sees himself as pastor

He refutes the “rock star” moniker. He considers himself a pastor, fundamentally a parish priest who has served in six parishes and pastored three.

“That’s where my heart really is,” he said. “I think for many people, particularly those who might not be able to get out to their parish and connect with their local community as much anymore, I would hope that I could be like a pastor to them. And, you know, when you are a pastor in a parish, you lead people in prayer, you celebrate Mass, but you also have fun with them and also talk with them and discuss important issues with them. That’s my role in the network to be a pastor.”

Richard and Sheila Marriott, regular viewers of CatholicTV, came to the breakfast to hear Bishop Reed in person. They marvel at his faith and sometimes “zany sense of humor.”

“We think he’s down to earth and can relate to all people at every level of their faith,” Sheila Marriott said. “And he sings the most beautiful Ave Maria. CatholicTV and Bishop Reed try to take everything that’s in the world and bring it through the eyes of faith and show it through a Catholic lens.”

Bishop Reed wants us to tell everyone we are saved by God’s grace.

“Are we making that clear for people to see? Are we using our blinker? Jesus is Lord, not just a moral guide. He is our only hope. … We follow him to the kingdom and this should be no secret among us. Let people know who you follow and the direction in which you are headed.”

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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