Fr. Patrick Langan, LC, is inspiring families to discuss important topics of the faith around the dinner table through weekly 90 second videos called Christ Forming Apostles. The videos are released every Wednesday, sent out to his parish in Cumming, Georgia, and made available on YouTube.
Currently the Parochial Vicar at St. Brendan the Navigator Parish, where he’s been for over three years, Fr. Patrick wanted to help provide parish families with more Catholic formation, and more tools to help them unite as a family. A while back, he was visiting with a family, the Christiansons, and was impressed at how they were able to get good conversations going around the dinner table through questions. Pondering this, he said to himself, “Imagine if every family in the country would do this? We’d change the country in a very short time.”
From seeing this need in his parish, and seeing an example of a family doing it well, Fr. Patrick was inspired to make this series of videos.
The goal is to encourage families to have deeper conversations at least once a week around the dinner table. “The videos were to give people tools to do that,” notes Fr. Langan, “In fact the person writing the tips for getting a conversation started and the questions is an expert on getting people talking.” A short video is an easy and accesible way to reach families outside of Mass, from their cell phones, ipads and cpomputers, where they live.
Fr. Langan explains, “We know how busy families are, and someone just needs to give them the tools to get the conversation going. After that, everything falls into place.”
Molly Foley, a teen at St. Brendan’s, explained how the videos impacted her family: “At Mass, Fr. Patrick told us to watch the video. So, I came home, I watched the video and I really liked it. I went to the dinner table that night, and we got the conversation started. I used some of the questions on the screen. It was better than normal because we had actual conversation.” Fr. Patrick mentioned her as an example of leading the family conversation – showing any family member can lead.
The name, Christ Forming Apostles, came from Regnum Christi’s understanding of Integral formation, which Fr. Patrick explained in the last chapter of his book The Quest for the Core. He sees these videos as a way of shedding new light on how we form apostles in Regnum Christi.
Fr. Langan said this also expands his work in the parish: “We also wanted to communicate to the parish, our primary audience, our parish identity as Christ forming his apostles.” He says it is helping to give the parish a clear identity. “We’ve been talking about the parish identity for a while in homilies and such,” he added, “but the videos present this in a new way.” He was thankful for the support of Fr. Matthew Van Smoorenburg, LC, the pastor of St Brendan the Navigator. The themes for each video are meant to show “every possible angle of Christ forming his apostles.” He has four seasons planned out, based on the four areas of Integral Formation – human, spiritual, intellectual, and apostolic – although only a few are online so far.
Fr. Patrick wanted to clarify that these videos are meant only to be great conversation starters. The points and questions start a conversation that families might take in many directions and families shouldn’t feel obliged to stay on topic if something else important is brought up.
On the technical side, it took Fr. Patrick five or six months of playing around with the technology before he got the green screen videotaping working right. Using this allows him to put up a series of images that help teach the material more fully, while keeping videos short.
For the large Hispanic membership of the parish, Fr. Langan records a version of each video in Spanish on a separate channel called Cristo Formando Apostoles.
If you are interested, here’s the first video, introducing the series.