According to my dictionary, the word “relevant” means “closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand,” and it’s certainly an apt description of the new Catholic radio station now broadcasting in Rhode Island – WSJW 550 AM.
Relevant Radio is a Catholic talk network founded 12 years ago with a mission of assisting the Church in promoting the New Evangelization by helping people bridge the gap between their faith and everyday life. It does so by providing live, interactive programs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The national headquarters of Relevant Radio are located in Green Bay, Wisconsin and the network has grown to include 34 stations, either directly owned or affiliated, in 13 states, including, now Rhode Island.
The new station has adopted the call letters WSJW (referring to St. Joseph the Worker) and is located on the dial at 550 AM. It has a fairly strong signal and the capacity of reaching 1.6 million souls in our region, including Rhode Island and other parts of Southern New England.
WSJW is an independent Catholic initiative. It is not owned or operated by the Diocese of Providence; it is supported by generous listeners. Nonetheless the station has my enthusiastic personal support and the Diocese is committed to working with the new station to ensure the success of its noble mission. I consider it to be a valuable partner in the work of evangelization which we have so enthusiastically embraced here in the Diocese of Providence.
Without a doubt Relevant Radio is thoroughly Catholic. It accepts and promotes, without embarrassment or hesitation, the teachings of the Church; it respects and supports the ministry of our Holy Father and our bishops; and it is placed under the protection of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Programming includes interviews, talk shows, liturgies and devotions, all of which are aimed at educating, informing and encouraging Catholics.
Relevant Radio is also a valuable resource for other listeners, non-Catholics, who often get their information and impressions about the Catholic Church from the secular media – from newspapers, radio, television and the Internet – and we all know what a risky business that can be when it comes to matters of faith.
That’s why WSJW is so valuable. It fills a gap; it builds a bridge between the reality of the Church and the secular society in which we live. This radio station is relevant – it is “connected to, appropriate to the matter at hand,” and the matter at hand these days, clearly, is “evangelization.”
Think of the ways in which evangelization has emerged in the life of the Church. Blessed John Paul II, in ushering in the new millennium, invited the Church to accept the challenge of a New Evangelization. “We must gain new impetus in Christian living, making it the force which inspires our journey of faith,” he famously wrote. Building upon that momentum, Pope Benedict has proclaimed a Year of Faith, beginning this fall. “The door of faith is always open for us,” our Holy Father wrote in announcing his new initiative. “The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord.” The forthcoming Synod of Bishops is devoted to the “New Evangelization,” and many dioceses, including our Diocese of Providence, have launched ambitious programs of outreach and evangelization.
In other words, evangelization is here to stay and Relevant Radio can play a significant role in promoting the theme, especially as it tackles head-on the critical religious issues of our day.
In a time when so many Catholics have drifted away from the Church and have stopped attending Mass and receiving the sacraments, we need Relevant Radio.
When so many Catholics are confused about the truth of Christ’s Gospel and misinformed about the teachings of the Church, we need Relevant Radio.
As determined citizens struggle to oppose the encroaching culture of death and promote the Gospel of Life in our society, we need Relevant Radio.
As we continue our battle to protect and promote the authentic meaning of holy matrimony and the pre-eminent value of Christian family life, we need Relevant Radio.
As we resist the onslaught of secularism and atheism sweeping our land, so obvious in politics, education, media, art and entertainment, we need Relevant Radio.
And as we fight to defend religious freedom and the ability of the Church to worship, teach and serve without government interference, we need Relevant Radio.
In short, Relevant Radio will help rally Rhode Island Catholics around all these themes. It will help us contribute to the moral well-being of our community, allowing us to become the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” the Lord calls us to be.
I’m a big fan of talk radio. I often listen to it at home, in my car and even while I’m falling asleep. Admittedly, talk radio has its limitations. Sometimes it generates misinformation, more heat than light; it can be theatrical and divisive. Nonetheless, it is a popular meeting place, the town square of our age. In its better moments talk radio provides a positive contribution to our culture when it offers good information, a forum for debate and a healthy exchange of ideas.
It is within that context that Relevant Radio will find its niche. WSJW will be a positive influence for the Catholic Church and for our local community. It will bring a spiritual perspective and a religious dimension to the local airwaves, and that’s a very good thing to have! Relevant Radio deserves our prayerful, personal and financial support.