Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared regularly in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds BS and MS degrees and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside in Connecticut.
Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, who founded Family Theater Productions in 1942, made a wonderful series on the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary that are timeless, still available and watched by many.
Now, for Lent, Family Theater Productions has just released a drama about the Sorrowful Mysteries, especially meant for teens and their families.
Called Carrying On, this dramatization, a part of the Manifest Mystery Series on DVD, brings the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, the Carrying of the Cross, into the present day.
Carrying On focuses on a teenager from Boston who is faced with dealing with her own materialism and self-centeredness when she travels to visit her grandmother in the Philippines.
What the teen discovers is how to accept and carry her cross by seeing how others accept and carry theirs willingly and joyfully.
“Being mature in life means accepting and carrying the cross,” says Holy Cross Father John Phalen as he talks about this latest DVD. He is president of Holy Cross Family Ministries.
Through this DVD, “we’re inviting young people to carry the cross in their own life in smaller ways and bigger ways,” he explains.
Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond, the national director of Family Theater Productions, based in Hollywood, shows how Carrying On (see trailer here) fits into the overall idea of these youth versions of the Rosary.
“Each story is a reflection of the mystery thematically, and all have teen protagonists,” he says.
Parishes use the DVDs, as do teachers in confirmation programs, and families and home-schoolers view them together.
Each 27-minute DVD purposely fits an hour classroom setting so that half the time is for a discussion. Families can do the same in their own homes. (See Here for the DVDs.) Study guides are provided.
All the Sorrowful Mysteries in the series show people living each one in modern day.
The Eggplant Lady relates to The Agony in the Garden, as a grandmother and granddaughter struggle together with the issue of doing God’s will, not their own. Secret of the Horse parallels The Scourging at the Pillar, as it follows a young man with martial-arts ability who must not fight back in order to save others. Haunted Heart is about The Crowning with Thorns and how a teen deals with an alcoholic father, school and anger. And The Hero relates a high-school sports figure to The Crucifixion.
“In terms of this modern drama, we’re telling people where Christ is today,” says Father Phalen.
“We’re helping the young people to see how what happened 2,000 years ago happens today, as well, in their own life,” he says, and this series will also help viewers "apply the values of the Rosary to their own lives."
Father Raymond notes that these DVDs are “communicating without preaching to young people.”
All were filmed in Hollywood, except Carrying On, which was filmed in the Philippines by the Family Rosary Crusade founded by Father Peyton.
Now that the Sorrowful Mysteries are complete, Father Raymond and Father Phalen are off to new assignments.
After heading Holy Cross Family Ministries (HCFM) for years, Father Phalen will be the novice director for Holy Cross in Peru, which also includes Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Forty years a priest, he is familiar with working in Peru.
Reflecting on his years as president, he says, “This has been a tremendous opportunity for me to share and strengthen families to pray the Rosary together. About everything we do is centered around the Rosary. Our whole ministry is about prayer, prayer together and the unification of the family through Rosary prayer.”
Father Raymond is of the same mind. “Spiritual welfare of families: that’s at the very center of the mission of the Holy Cross Family Ministries."
On July 1, after 14 years as national director of Family Theater, Father Raymond will become the new president of HCFM.
With his background promoting the vision and mission of Father Peyton for families, Father Raymond is ready to head HCFM around the world.