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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Legion of Christ seminarians engage YouTube viewers with “Just Fun Gospel”

Br. Frederick and Br. Matthew

Once upon a time, two Legion of Christ seminarians, inspired by a calling from Pope Benedict XVI, got together to ask themselves the question, “Can learning the Catholic faith be fun?”

With a lot of prayer, added to their talents, video production experience and years of study, they answered this question with a resounding “Yes!” and thebrothersinblack was born.

Bringing Faith to the Public Square

“When the Holy Father announced the ‘The Year of Faith’ and called for Catholics to look for ways to bring the faith into the public square, Brother Frederick (Keiser LC) made the connection with YouTube in a split second,” Brother Matthew Schmitz LC explained.  “As we started looking into it, we noticed that there are lots of excellent videos on YouTube by holy, talented preachers whom we highly respect that get tens of thousands of hits.”

They also noticed that videos with a sense of humor got millions of hits. (They particularly remember one video featuring a chameleon being threatened with an iPhone getting more than 13,000,000 hits.)

“People go to YouTube looking for fun,” said Brother Matthew.

Since then, Brother Matthew and Brother Frederick have put together what they call a
Br. Frederick
Brother Frederick thought YouTube was a good vehicle to bring the Gospel to the Public Square
series of short, informational and entertaining videos under the catch phrase of “Just Fun Gospel.” 

Since the inception of their partnership in November, the two brothers have enlisted the help of Brother Brian Coe LC to help with the brainstorming and script writing. So far the group has produced 8 videos, with more ideas coming every day.

Brother Matthew said that, with prodding from Brother Brian and Brother Frederick, he kicks in much of the comedic aspects of the videos, while Brother Frederick handles most of the editing.  Brother Brian handles the bulk of the script writing, with “constructive criticism” from Brother Frederick and Brother Matthew.

“For all of our videos, we have 3 basic rules,” said Brother Matthew. “First, each video has to have a clearly formulated evangelizing message that we want to get across.  We don’t start production without that element in place. Second, each video has to be fun.  We have room to grow here, but we’ve come a long way.  Finally, each video has to be as brief as the message allows.  Besides these parameters, the sky’s the limit.” 

“Many people seem to like the idea,” said Brother Matthew.  “People have subscribed to our channel, “liked” our videos, left comments on the channel and recommended our videos to family and friends.  We deeply appreciate the support people show us and the way they help us get the word out.” 

“We are launching a weekly service,” said Brother Matthew.  “Beginning on Thursday, January 26, 2012, you can expect a new video every Thursday at 3:00 pm EST, and 12 noon PT.” 

A Worthy Investment of Time

Right now, the brothers are putting together the videos while studying theology in Rome and preparing for ordination. 

Brother Matthew admits some people have questioned whether this initiative is “the best use of our time.’ 

“While it is a challenge to balance study time and video production, these videos are forcing us to dig deep in our prayer and theology studies, since that’s where the content of the videos comes from,” he said. “The e-mails from people for whom one of the videos has struck a deep chord show that it truly is a worthy investment of our time and energy.

“Even so, the time issue is a real one.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to many of the other brothers in the seminary, who have pitched their own talents in to help us in areas where we are weak and lighten the overall work load. 

“Brother Alejandro Paez (LC) is a fabulous cameraman and has been of great help. 
Br. Matthew kicking
Brother Matthew kicks in much of the comedic aspects of the videos
The video “Turn Around!” would have simply been impossible without Brother John Bender’s (LC) cheerful collaboration and gift for acting.  Brother Chrystopher Aguilar (LC) has helped with both camera work and online promotion.  The best music on the channel was both written and recorded by Brother Michael Moriarty (LC).  Brother Lucas Machado (LC) has pitched in with graphic design.  Brother Oscar Galindo (LC) has been a great help in preparing the Spanish footnotes.  Many of the brothers have helped get the word out. I could go on, but you get the idea.  It really is becoming a community project.”    

Different Paths to the Same End

Brother Matthew is from Minnesota and has moved around a bit before and after entering the Legion. 

“I finished high school at Immaculate Conception Apostolic School (where I met a young man named Frederick Keiser) and entered the novitiate in the summer of 2000.  I’ll be ordained deacon and priest in 2013. 
Brother Brian Coe joined the group to help with brainstorming and script writing

“I’ve always had film and acting in the back of my mind.  My time in the Legion has helped me develop and channel any little talent that might be there.  I’m happy when I can make people see the lighter side and satisfied when they come to know God more through me.”

Brother Frederick was born and raised in Kansas. 

“I joined the Apostolic School in New Hampshire in 1996. I am in the second year of Theology and will be ordained in December of 2013.  My father is an amateur film maker. I love watching his stuff.  My brothers and sisters and I produced home made movies quite often – including a full length western and a super-hero movie. 

“Spreading the Gospel through YouTube has been on my mind for about five years now.  I noticed that videos on the Internet were having a huge impact on society and I really felt the need to use this medium to share what I love most: Christ and his Church.”

Brother Brian was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. 

“Serving Jesus has taken me to so many enriching parts of the country that I think of myself as being from all over,” he adds saying he still “pulls for the Orioles and the Ravens.”

“I joined the novitiate in Cheshire in 1998.  I am studying the last year of theology and will be ordained a priest in December of this year. I have always enjoyed dabbling in poetry, music, theater – anything that requires creativity.  As I matured in the faith and began pursuing my vocation to the Legion, finding creative ways of getting the Gospel message across to people became a real passion.  Over the years I have devoured books about English composition, public speaking, even movie script writing (go figure!) and am always looking for opportunities to apply them in sharing the Gospel with people.  So, when Brother Frederick asked if I could help with the brainstorming and script writing side of things, I jumped at the chance.”

Creativity with Humility

They all admit that launching this series is “flying” in uncharted territory, and they are learning as they go. “It’s like we are building an airplane and flying it at the same time,” said Brother Brian. 

“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a rush,” said Brother Frederick. “Most of our videos have a story behind them – with laughs, hurdles we had to jump over, disagreements we had to work through…Each one is a little victory. Watching them opens up a flood gate of memories.”

“The track record that these videos have of bringing people closer to Jesus makes me wonder whether the Holy Spirit is using one of them to reach someone right now,” said Brother Matthew.  “While it’s fulfilling to watch one of them, I’ll be honest and say that it’s much more fulfilling to see the view count go up, because that’s how we know that we’ve reached people.”

To subscribe to thebrothersinblack YouTube channel, click here.




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