Emily Clark
Emily Clark

By Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese | Correspondent

A productive blending of faith, social media and young adults can yield a fruitful harvest, as evidenced by Emily Clark, 18, winner of the first John Cardinal Foley Award for Social Communications Young Professionals Video Competition.

Clark – a parishioner of St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square, and former cast member of Realfaith TV, the diocesan television program for teenagers – produced a 90-second video titled “Believer,” which garnered more than 200 likes on the Cardinal Foley Chair Vimeo page. The contest was sponsored by St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa.

“I feel so lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to be able to share this moment with my family,” Clark said of winning the award. “I loved making the video, so this is just a wonderful thing to show myself that I can make these videos and make an impact.”

The contest was open to non-professionals ages 18 to 25 who created a 45- to 90-second video supporting the 2017 World Day of Social Communications theme of “Fear not, for I am with you (Is 43.5): Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”

Clark, a senior at Steinert High School, Hamilton, pieced together her winning video from footage she took with her iPhone7 during a senior class trip through Europe, which included stops in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein. She merged images of nature’s beauty and man’s artisanship with those depicting one of the lowest points of humanity, showing how even in the darkest moments, faith in God prevails.

Particularly memorable to Clark was a visit to the site of the former concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. Seeing in person what she had only heard about through books and movies was a sobering experience, she said. She felt compelled to incorporate the story of a camp survivor into her video. 

“I wanted people to understand that there are people’s stories that haven’t been able to be heard,” she said. She said she was especially touched by the unwavering faith of the prisoners in the midst of such evil.

“I want people to understand how religion can help people in situations like Dachau,” Clark said, and “how it all can be overcome if you look for the love and the light.”

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales Father Thomas Dailey, Cardinal Foley chairman of homiletics and social communications at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Clark’s video conveyed an awareness of “experiencing the trials and tribulations of the world, but in a hopeful sense.”

Clark will be presented with her award at the second annual Cardinal Foley Symposium to celebrate World Day of Social Communication at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary May 24.

“The foundation for all of this is the celebration of the World Day of Social Communications,” Father Dailey said. Although a worldwide celebration, “It’s not publicly celebrated here in the U.S. The symposium is a way, at least in the Atlantic Region, that we can celebrate this World Day of Social Communication.

“Specifically, the video competition is meant to engage the world of young adults,” Father Dailey added. “That’s the up-and-coming Church. And the primary way that generation communicates is [through] video and social media.”

Father Dailey hopes the younger generation will use social media to promote Pope Francis’ call for communicating hope and trust.

Clark, who will be studying communications and media arts at Montclair State University in the fall, shares Father Dailey’s sentiments. 

“I want to learn more about people and understand different cultures and religions,” she said. “I want to be able to make videos like this and show people that not everybody’s the same and everybody has a different take on religion, culture and life style.”

Clark said she has always enjoyed communication arts and has interned at radio stations 94.5 PST in Trenton and Rider University’s 107.7 The Bronc. Her experience as a cast member of Realfaith TV for the past four years has shown her how learning about other people’s experiences with their faith can help strengthen her own faith.

“It helps you come out of your comfort zone just hearing other people talk about it,” she explained.

Marianne Hartman, director of Multimedia Production for the Diocese of Trenton, worked with Clark on Realfaith TV. 

“I’ve seen her grow into a mature and confident young woman who’s finding ways to integrate her faith in today’s world,” Hartman said. The competition is a great way to “reach young people where they are. That’s definitely a good way to get the faith out there and pull young people in to get them more connected to their faith.”

Clark’s strong faith connection, infectious enthusiasm and thirst for learning about other cultures have her poised for a promising future.

“I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been able to experience,” she said. “There is so much more ahead to conquer.”

To watch Emily Clark’s award-winning video, go to https://vimeo.com/214426258.