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.
To counteract false ideas about Church teaching, especially in light of the Health and Human Services mandate, Goodness Reigns is looking for entries for its “Natural Family Planning: The Better Way" video contest.
Suzanne Haugh, Goodness Reigns' executive director, shared some thoughts with me about the organization and its first-ever "mini contest."
“Goodness Reigns came into being in 2009 with the purpose of trying to engage particularly the youth and young-adult population on how to explore and learn your faith, and then share what you learned with other people using the video format,” she said.
Because a lot of the youth population watches videos on YouTube, Goodness Reigns sponsored their first major video contest before World Youth Day in Madrid last year. But with the next international WYD not until 2013, “We realized some of the youth still wanted to continue making videos, so we decided on this 'mini contest,' but prizes are still significant,” Haugh told me.
The rest of our conversation follows:
How did you decide on this subject?
We chose natural family planning because sometimes we as Catholics look to the secular media and we expect them to address and to understand what we believe and why we believe it. But people who practice natural family planning are not always able to get into that realm of media to share the fruits, challenges and ultimate joy of natural family planning.
We see this mini contest as an opportunity to share their story, but also to engage the people who may not know about this to do some research and understand why the Church promotes natural family planning.
(In my own married life, I have found) so many blessings have come from that journey as a couple. I think marriages in general could be strengthened … when you practice natural family planning. I really feel this will resonate with people who practice natural family planning who want to share their story.”
What about Goodness Reigns’ big audience of youth and young adults who aren’t married? How do they fit into this subject?
With young people, my impression is they’re very earth conscious, very green, and one of the beauties of natural family planning is it’s 100% natural. It’s something that is very countercultural. I would argue it’s also very pro-woman in this day and age. I find that, in previous contests, the contest is giving some participants the opportunity to explore. We know the what about faith, but we don’t (always) understand the why. These young people are seeking the truth, seeking good choices. I’m hoping this will peak their interest to investigate, even people who are not Catholics. There are a lot of nuances to explore, and I hope people will explore them in the videos.
Is the contest for beginners to video-making?
After the first contest, we understood a lot of people are new to making videos, so we have the Goodness Reigns Film School as an online resource. It’s all free There are a bunch of short videos on how to make better videos, all created by Gabriel Castillo, a young man, husband and father who participated in our first contest. I would encourage people to check out our film school.
[The website lists rules and resources to use, provides forms necessary, and suggests approaches to the video — anything from documentary-style interviews to commercial-style shorts.]
Your first major WYD contest drew amateur filmmakers from several places.
It was an international contest, and the judges were from across the United States. Goodness Reigns was selected to be part of the cultural program at World Youth Day and hosted a film festival during it. Twenty-four of our group who were involved in the film contest presented their videos. It was the first time a lot of them got to present their work publically. It was a great joy for me to see emerging Catholic talent at World Youth Day and talk about their art to an international audience.
What are the prizes?
We’re offering film equipment or a gift card to buy film equipment to attract people to use their capability to explore this area. [They include choice of a Panasonic GH2 with lens or $1,000 gift card to B&H Photo, a Manfroto Monopod or $300 certificate.]
What is the deadline for entries?
“We’re accepting videos through June 25. (Submitted through the Goodness Reigns website.) We ask they be no longer than five minutes. On July 16, we will announce the winner, release all the videos online, and start the People’s Choice Award voting to get people to watch the videos. We will announce that winner July 23, which is the date of the one-year mark to when World Youth Day 2013 starts in Brazil — and the date we start accepting videos for our "Share the Story" major contest.
But first, Haugh wants goodness to reign through each entry for “Natural Family Planning: The Better Way.”