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​CTSA celebrates providing uplifting entertainment and compelling family programming that reflects

May 18, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: In the Press, Breaking News

CTSA celebrates providing uplifting entertainment and compelling family programming that reflects the diversity of archdiocese

Catholic Television of San Antonio’s virtual Leadership Luncheon on May 3 was broadcast on Spectrum Cable Channel 15 and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook live, offering the opportunity for the station’s team to express their appreciation to viewers and donors for their ongoing support, which allows great works of mercy to be carried out in the Lord’s name. It was also a time to seek new benefactors to contribute to the financial underwriting of the ministry.

Yesenia Ramirez, executive director of CTSA, thanked those taking part in the event.

“The year 2020 was like no other we had ever experienced. The COVID-19 pandemic upended our live shows, production of new programming, and our galas. Non-essential businesses began shutting down and people were urged to stay home and social distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” she began. “The Catholic Television of San Antonio team had to adjust to this new normal, while still producing the live daily Mass, Archbishop Gustavo’s timely messages, all the events for Holy Week, Catholic high school baccalaureate Masses, and other special events which transitioned to virtual formats. It was definitely a challenging experience, but it was amazing how quickly we were able to change to produce these shows safely.”

Ramirez explained how the station’s team figured out new workflows and had to adapt to having fewer people on site. Staffers also became proficient at doing much more with less, as the channel became busier than ever before.

“Our mission became very clear during this crisis, a time in which public Masses were suspended. Catholic Television of San Antonio became a lifeline, providing hope and spiritual nourishment to the faithful. I personally received hundreds of messages of gratitude from our viewers,” she recalled. “Thousands of people watch the Mass each day; countless numbers of viewers pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. We are evangelizing through our programming and this could not happen without the support of people like you!”

Each year the Catholic Television of San Antonio Leadership Luncheon honors a distinguished Catholic leader who reflects Catholic values through their creative and inspired use of media in communicating the spirit of the Gospel.

At the May 3 gathering CTSA honored Sister Susan Mika, OSB, a woman religious who is widely recognized for her advocacy work focusing in showing corporations the need to be more responsible in their care of workers and the environment. She was a co-host of the program “Catholic Café” and also had her own show, “The Sacred Earth.”

CTSA and Catholic Life Insurance also recognized Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette by presenting him with the 2021 St. John Vianney Award for his priestly ministry and outstanding contributions to Catholic Television of San Antonio.

In addition, the CTSA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the first executive director of the station, Bishop Emeritus John W. Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo. In 1981, when he became the executive director, the bishop wrote a letter to potential CTSA benefactors. It stated, “The impact of television in forming the values and attitudes of the American population provides a great opportunity to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ.” His leadership and vision left a legacy of teaching and evangelization which is carried on by the station.

Most of the work for television productions occurs behind the scenes. Throughout this virtual gala viewers were able to meet the people that make it happen here every day at CTSA.

Xavier Ramirez, producer of “SA News,” has conducted interviews with papal nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Paul Chavez, Erin Brockovich, Ted Koppel, Rita Moreno, San Antonio city officials and front line workers, keeping the community up to date with the latest developments regarding the pandemic.

He also followed a migrant youth, documenting his journey from Central America to his first time stepping on an escalator, to him waving goodbye as he boarded his first flight reuniting him with his extended American family.

For this, in 2020 the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognized “SA News” with their highest honor, as “SA News” received three Lone Star Emmy nominations.

Eric Allen, broadcast engineer for CTSA, introduced Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS.

“I am delighted to say that things are going quite well at CTSA. We have a small but creative and dedicated staff who enjoy being competitive with the Gospel message. We see ourselves, not in competition within the church, but in competition with secular media,” said the archbishop. “We produce high quality meditative programs, informative news which affirms live from conception to natural death; Holy Hours; the rosary; Stations of the Cross; as well as reflections on different topics of the day. As a group, we are confident that Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is the most important message to be transmitted.”

Archbishop Gustavo emphasized that the challenge is to make the teaching and the life of the Church real and interesting to people, to present the Gospel in an engaging manner amidst all the noise which surrounds us without watering down this vital message. “That’s a huge challenge,” he stressed. “At the same time, we continue the push to become available in as many homes as possible and on every mobile device.”

He continued “The role of CTSA is simply to put the spotlight on Catholic richness and to help people to see how blessed we are to share the precious gift of Catholic faith. During this past difficult year of the coronavirus pandemic CTSA saw big spikes in viewers, followers and comments on their social media platforms. This showed that many people, not just the Catholic faithful, were able to follow and encounter the Word of God thanks to television, as well as our other streaming services and social media.”

In order to raise up our media apostolate, and inspire all people of goodwill to contribute with prayer and offerings, and so that through these means the Church may preach the Gospel to all peoples, the archbishop dedicated the station to St. Gabriel the Archangel.

Teri Palos, CTSA’s development director, introduced Michael Belz, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Life Insurance, who created an opportunity to uniquely honor priests in the archdiocese with the St. John Vianney Award.

Belz has led Catholic Life Insurance through decades of growth during his 37-years as its president. Throughout the years he has participated in or led many projects in support of priests and is a sponsor of the daily Mass.

More recently, through the Catholic School Sweepstakes program, Catholic Life has helped Catholic Schools raise more than $11 million for Catholic education over the past 10 years with 100 percent of that money going back to the schools.

St. John Vianney, the award’s namesake, is known throughout the world as the Curé of Ars and patron of priests. He lived a humble but holy life that was filled with works of charity and love. He was known to have spent countless hours in the confessional, bringing God’s forgiveness to those who sought out reconciliation.

“We at Catholic Life Insurance are pleased to have this opportunity to join with Catholic Television of San Antonio in recognizing priests for their hard work and dedication to ministry,” said Belz. “We are blessed in the archdiocese with so many great priests.”

The St. John Vianney Award presented by Catholic Life Insurance to Bishop Boulette includes the establishment of a $1,000 annuity in his name for the benefit of Assumption Seminary and a statue of St. John Vianney.

Michael Contreras, CTSA cameraman and producer, introduced Sister Mika, who currently serves as director for the Benedictine Coalition for Responsible Investment, a coalition which aims to help address issues concerning working conditions within the corporate environment.

She has also served in leadership on the board of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility based in New York and helped start programs such as Camino a La Paz and The International Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras.

Daryl Swanson, CTSA creative director, produced a “sizzle reel” that was shown which highlighted the many events covered by the station during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sponsors for the Leadership Luncheon were Catholic Life Insurance, The Polish Heritage Center, Veronica and Ruben Escobedo, The Gambrinus Company, Kiolbassa Provision Company, Oblate School of Theology, The Catholic TV Network, St. George Maronite Church, The Benedictine Sisters and St. Pius X Church. Chairperson for the gala was Veronica Salazar Escobedo, assisted by Brunella Bruni.

Kevin Gibson, the station’s traffic coordinator, who is in charge of scheduling all programs, specials, live events and public service announcements on CTSA, concluded the program by inviting Father Jim Schellenberg to the podium to offer the benediction.

Father Jim retired as chaplain with the San Antonio Military Medical Center in 2019 and is in his fifth year as host of Food for Thought on CTSA.

Father Pat O’Brien, co-host of “Discovering Our Faith with Archbishop Gustavo” and pastor of St. Pius X Church, had begun the program by leading the opening prayer.

“CTSA has been blessed through the years to have the benefit of volunteers who have contributed their time and talent without compensation. They have hosted programs which minister to those who seek to encounter Christ in a number of ways. Thank you to all of our TV hosts, as well as the dedicated priests who celebrate our Daily Mass,” said Ramirez in concluding comments.