The Catholic Church in Benin City, Edo State, has launched a television programme aimed at engaging the youth, to shape their lives and ultimately evangelise them.
The Dominican community in the area said it had found new ways of addressing issues concerning today’s youths. The television programme, Catholic Faith Forum, airs exclusively every Sunday evening on R2TV on GOTV, with a repeat broadcast every Tuesday.
Coordinator of the programme, Rev. Fr. Jude Owoh, in a recent encounter, said there were plans to make the programme, which he described as the first of its kind in the country, available on YouTube.
“It is the first time a Catholic youth programme, a talk show, is airing on Nigerian television. The programme enjoys a viewership of mostly younger people from 13 and above, with many parents endorsing it as wholesome and educative.
“It is one programme that has created awareness that the Catholic Church in Nigeria is aware of the moral and spiritual gap that exists in the society, which strict attendance at Sunday Masses cannot solve. It is also one that addresses the misconceptions many non-Catholics have about what we believe in,” he said.
He recalled that the programme was the brainchild of Rev. Fr. Collins Akhigbe, O.P., who was in charge of the Dominican Campus Apostolate: “Catholic Faith Forum was a dream he had over a decade ago while ministering to young people in different higher institutions. So, he recently received an offer from Royal Roots TV (R2TV) to produce a programme that was meant to address issues affecting young people, from a Catholic perspective.
“At that point, he remembered that, since there was a media team charged with the responsibility of handling everything media for the Dominicans, why not hand the idea over to it? So, he humbly handed it over to us and we graciously accepted it.
“That was how we started to work on Catholic Faith Forum on television, while he continued with Catholic Faith Forum in higher institutions across the country.”
Recalling his life-long road to television, Fr. Owoh told Daily Sun that television had been a good part of his childhood but he could not remember Catholic programming being a part of his growing up years.
“Everything I know about my faith was from my parents, my teachers in church and from books. It is no longer news that books have taken the back seat as sources of information. Our generation is more tuned to audio-visual mass media. Therefore, a Catholic show on television that will teach people the very fundamental ideas of how we think, what we believe and how we ought to live as Catholics and also enlighten non-Catholics about what we believe will be filling a gaping void that has been begging to be filled.
“So, I sat down with a team and injected some ideas into the raw plan. The vision we created is for young people to teach their peers their faith. It is not a very common phenomenon. It is not something you see every day.
“We held an audition session where we selected three presenters – a young man and two ladies, all Catholics with a passion for the media, and began to train them. We wanted to empower them to teach their peers.”
Fr. Owoh recalled that the first season of the show started airing on December 10, 2017: “Each episode is 30 minutes long. The presenters discuss the topic among themselves. At other times, they host a guest who is knowledgeable on the issue of the day.”
He appealed for sponsorship, while pleading with the society to key into the novelty, which he believes would change society for the better.
He also enlightened the public about the Dominican Order, also known as the Order of Preachers.
“It is a religious group in the Catholic Church composed of men (friars), women (nuns and sisters) and lay persons (men, women and young people) working together to spread the Catholic faith through our unique gift of preaching.
“The Dominican Order, founded by Saint Dominic, is over 800 years old and has been in Nigeria for almost 70 years. We are most famous for our parish in Lagos, which is St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, Yaba. Recently, we received a licence to begin the Dominican University,” he said.