The Catholic Times
With cameras rolling – an out-of date term given the lack of fi lm rolling in video cameras – the staff of “Extraordinary Faith,” a new program on EWTN, came to La Crosse to produce an episode on the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“‘Extraordinary Faith’ is an idea that a friend of mine and I had about three years ago,” said Alex Begin, co-creator, executive producer, and host. “We thought that it was high time that there was a television program that talked about Sacred Tradition. There had never been one on any of the Catholic networks that we knew of.
“We all came from a Latin Mass background; so that was sort of the beginning point of what we wanted to showcase.
“Anything dealing with classic sacred art, architecture, music and of course the liturgy needed to have a positive, enthusiastic presentation. It’s a growing and good part of the Church today. It’s time for it to be featured on television.”
On May 2, with rain threatening, the crew spent the early morning recording the exterior shots they needed. The crew then went to the Shrine of St. Joseph for a recording session. On the way up the hill, Father John Swing, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Nekoosa and St. Alexander in Port Edwards, described the Shrine of St. Joseph. Father Swing’s parents donated most of the land for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“The Shrine of St. Joseph has a setting of St. Joseph’s workshop where he is teaching Jesus to build a cross,” Father Swing explained. “Mary is looking on with a horrifi ed look. Off in the distance is Cardinal [Raymond L.] Burke with a hand on my dad’s shoulder with my mother next to my dad. … Above and to the right the Shrine Church is shown with its dome and bell tower. It puts the setting both in the workshop of Joseph and here at the Shrine.” Father Swing said that the sculptor was able to capture the Swinghammer look [in his parents], even though he took weight off of his father, made him slender and taller. “With my mother,” Father Swing said, “he captured her eyes and the smile: the glint in the eye.”
Father Swing said that the family name was Swinghammer and at some time in the past, “hammer” was dropped. The crew then went to the Shrine Church where Sister M. Ancilla Matter, FSGM, starting with St. Therese, the Little Flower, pointed out the paintings of the saints and telling their stories while on camera.
When asked by the crew, she explained that the object in question was a first-class relic of St. Therese, meaning that it was part of her: a bone fragment.
Begin’s connection to the shrine goes back to when he was an organizer of Latin Masses in the Archdiocese of Detroit and across the river in Windsor, Ontario for almost 30 years. He wrote a weekly column for the church bulletins of Latin Mass parishes.
Writing on a weekly basis for a number of years, gave him the material that he needed to create “Extraordinary Faith.”
“Since nobody else was doing it, even though we knew nothing about television, we decided to do something about it,” he said. They were able to find people in Hollywood who were willing to coach them on how to produce a documentary.
They approached several networks, and EWTN, while not funding it, said they would air it. When asked if they accept donations, Begin said “we will, we don’t yet because we have a 501(c)3 charitable corporation in formation. It’s not ready yet and probably won’t be for a few more months.”
While promoting the Latin Mass in Detroit and Ontario, he had heard of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe many times. Since there is a Latin Mass at the Shrine he decided to feature it on the program.
The episode in which the Shrine will be featured will have a subject of “new church construction in a traditional style.” Begin said, “I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that this is the most elaborately decorated church to have been built in North America in the last 40 years.” Begin and his crew provide EWTN with one program a month. EWTN decides on when to air it.
Begin said that he does not have an air date for the Shrine episode yet – that is entirely up to EWTN. But he thinks it may be in the late fall or winter. You can track this and other program at their Web site at www.extraordinaryfaith.tv. Their fi rst show aired in April and featured Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. Even though it has already aired, you can watch it by going to www.extraordinaryfaith.tv/episodes.
Their second show, on St. Paul’s Choir School in Boston, will air July 13 at 4 p.m. (Central) and July 17 at 9 p.m. (Central). Begin said that their contract with EWTN allows them to put the shows on their Web site one month after they have been aired. Begin said that they also filmed a segment of the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee.