New Catholic multimedia resource aims to lead people to Jesus through fun, informative content
By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic
[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – A Pew Research poll claiming only one-third of U.S. Catholics believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist two years ago sent shockwaves through the Church. Could so many Catholics really have missed such a fundamental teaching of their faith?
“Catechesis is not opinion,” Edmundo Reyes, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s director of communications, told The B.C. Catholic.
“In our world there is a lot of opinion and platforms to share your opinion, but catechesis is not opinion. It is to share God’s revelation.”
That’s why Reyes co-founded Real + True, a multimedia project to make Catholic teaching more accessible and relevant to people of faith around the world.
The program has an Archdiocese of Vancouver connection. In March of 2020, Vancouver representatives met in Brooklyn with Catholic communications leaders from around North America. Research was shared regarding new methods to reach young Catholics. Video-based learning was identified as the most effective path to sparking curiosity and giving context to Catholic teaching.
In collaboration with the Archdiocese of Detroit, Real + True was developed and is now being tested in the Archdiocese of Vancouver as a new teaching tool for Catholic schools and RCIA courses.
Released in Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese, the content is free, accessible online, and features eye-catching videos, social media content, and podcasts created for anyone, especially millennials and Gen Z.
Real + True launched Sept. 7 and in less than one week gained 400,000 views across all channels.
Its first videos feature a historical dive into the creation of world maps and co-founder Edmund Mitchell challenging people on the street to run a Google search for “what is the meaning of life” and “does God exist.” Mitchell is also seen cutting a cake into four parts as he describes the four major sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“We are excited to bring the combined effort of creatives and catechetical experts to this project to launch something truly innovative,” co-founder Emily Mentock said in a press statement.
In their research, the three co-founders of Real + True found many cradle Catholics at some point “stopped seeing the relevance of their faith connected to their daily lives,” explained Reyes to The B.C. Catholic.
“We hope that we make strong connections to how faith informs everything that we do. If you look at our videos, we are leaning on science and the natural world as ways to observe spiritual realities. We want to create pathways in this discovery of truth in a way that is accessible and relevant.”
Reyes observed this in a personal way a few years ago while watching videos by the Portland-based BibleProject, a resource aimed at making the Bible more accessible.
While reviewing materials in his living room and dreaming about how to do something similar in his own community, he noticed that his children started joining him in the room. By the end of a video, three of his four children were sitting with him, enjoying information about Scripture.
“They said, ‘Dad, I feel I learned more from these videos than all I learned in my religious education.’ That stuck with me,” said Reyes. “It was a bit sad, that we were letting down the next generation, but it was also hopeful that the Gospel message is beautiful. We need to represent it in a way that is relevant and captivating.”
He said his generation sought out information to questions in books. Today, young people are satisfying their curiosity online, and that’s where the Church can meet them.
The Real + True team aims to release online content explaining the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church, divided into 48 sections. Reyes said at the current pace, it will take about four years to complete.
There are also plans to release discussion guides, leader books, and other content to help faith leaders, teachers, and others use the material to share the knowledge with others.
“One of our hopes is that at the end, when it’s all completed, we will have this whole library of resources for people to be used formally in their parish or school or informally to share with their friends, family, coworkers, and neighbours,” he said. “Our intended audience is those who are curious about their faith, to lead them to Jesus.”
Reyes added that there are plans to adapt the content for other languages as well.
Real + True is a project of Our Sunday Visitor. It has been presented to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and the Dicastery for Communication at the Vatican with “positive initial support.”
Some observers have criticized the Pew Research poll, saying the sample size was too small to truly reflect the beliefs of U.S. Catholics about the Eucharist. Whether its findings were authoritative or not, Reyes hopes innovative projects such as Real + True can help Catholics understand what they believe and share it in ways that are accessible, relevant, and just a bit fun.
Real + True content can be accessed at realtrue.org or on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and various podcast platforms.