PRIESTS 24/7 : A video documentary
(Gabriel Communications, 2003, $30.00. Available from Catholic bookshops)
John Santamaria, Executive Producer of a new video documentary on the Catholic priesthood - titled Priests 24/7 - explained that his project was a reaction to the constant adverse media coverage of a few "bad apples" among Australia's thousands of priests. He wanted to present the priesthood in a positive light and to do justice to the vast majority of good and dedicated men going about their essential work.
Using the "reality TV" technique that is so popular these days, Priests 24/7 uses a "fly-on-the-wall" approach, hour-by-hour and day-by-day, to show two priests in a large and busy Australian parish - St Mary's, Geelong (Vic) - going about a typical week's work.
The two priests involved - Fathers Kevin Dillon and Max Vodola (now parish priest of North Reservoir in the Melbourne Archdiocese) - are excellent advertisements for the Catholic priesthood and come across as sincere, decent, level-headed human beings, totally dedicated to their vocation.
Their on-camera activities involve a strong emphasis on the spiritual, e.g., personal prayer, homily preparation and celebrating Mass and the sacraments (marriage and baptism). Both emphasise that the Eucharist and a prayer life are at the heart of their priesthood.
They are also involved in visitations to schools, hospitals and local parishioners, where they come across as natural, warm and friendly, while commanding respect.
Father Dillon makes clear that priests should also have some outside interests so as to maintain a proper balance in their lives - in his case, these include a love of country and western music, owning a vintage car and visits to the gym to keep fit.
The documentary is fast-moving, professionally edited and overall very edifying. It would be an ideal resource for Catholic secondary schools' religious education programs to illustrate the many faceted aspects of priestly life, as well as for the general promotion of vocations.