A screenshot from one of the diocesan Department of Multimedia Production’s videos shows the benefits of Catholic education in a science lab setting.
A screenshot from one of the diocesan Department of Multimedia Production’s videos shows the benefits of Catholic education in a science lab setting.

By Christina Leslie | Correspondent

“The question confronting the Church today is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message,” said St. John Paul II in his late 1980s World Communications Day message, “but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the Gospel message.”

Charged with this mission to convey the value of Catholic education in the Diocese of Trenton, the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools has produced 30- and 60-second videos titled “Forming Citizens of Tomorrow,” which can be viewed on YouTube and other social media outlets.

The videos, developed under the leadership of Marianne Hartman, diocesan director of the Department of Multimedia Production, present images of children using the latest equipment and technologies, interacting with the community, and celebrating their faith in church, classroom and sports venues.

Judy Nicastro, associate director of school services for the Diocese, recalled how the earlier success of a video on Catholic school busing prompted the creation of the new videos on the importance and value of Catholic education.

“The elementary schools had initial input, outlining all the things that make Catholic education special,” said Nicastro. “We brought those ideas to the Department of Multimedia Production, which turned those abstract ideas into an amazing product that really speaks to all the elements of Catholic education.”

“Visuals were the only way to tell the story,” asserted Rosemary Kimball, associate director of Multimedia Production. “We needed to assure [parents] that, along with religious classes, the students are receiving an exceptional education.”

Kimball continued, “Catholic schools invest a tremendous amount of time, energy and money into creating the perfect learning environment, so we had to represent that same feeling in the commercial. Sound effects, natural sound, voiceover and original music score all played a key role in creating the feeling that we wanted the viewer to experience.”

The videos, presented in English and Spanish, were filmed both in the classroom and out of doors, featuring teachers, coaches, school staff, family members and, of course, numerous Catholic elementary school students. In order for the commercial to be relevant to all the 31 elementary schools of the Diocese, an effort was made to be generic: no unique school signage was visible, and no logos were evident on uniforms.

“This achieved the goal that every school could use the commercial on their school website, Facebook, Instagram, etc.,” Kimball explained. “Because we had a great deal we wanted to show and say, we began to carefully choose each word and match a specific visual to tell a whole story… Each and every sentence and visual was carefully chosen, but it was also based upon what our schools really, truly offer the students.”

“Forming Citizens of Tomorrow” will appear on elementary school websites and social media, at off-campus events, and other internal school marketing venues. In addition to local social media avenues, the 30- and 60-second videos will appear on several English and Spanish cable networks to maximize potential viewers.

“Our goal is to reach an audience who may either know nothing about Catholic schools or need to be reintroduced to Catholic education,” Nicastro said. “We close the video with [the slogan] ‘Think Catholic,’ and that is a message we want to send to everybody.”

JoAnn Tier, diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, added, “Our schools are faith-based learning communities where students understand the value and importance of service in support of the less fortunate. They make their mark on society as their minds are opened through an education that promotes imagination, discovery and collaboration … the production of the videos was a ‘home run.’”

“Not only does this video reflect the spirit and excellence of a Catholic elementary school education, but its creation was the result of many different voices contributing to the effort,” Nicastro summarized. “This spirit of cooperation, and goal of sharing our Catholic story, is a concrete example of our commitment to further Catholic education and continue to provide a place to form caring and creative citizens of the future.”

“Forming Citizens of Tomorrow” may be viewed on CatholicSchoolsHaveItAll.org