Radio Maria announced today that they will open 11 new offices around the world. The expansion of one of the most widespread Catholic broadcasting stations in the world will be made possible thanks to the Mariathon, or the “Marian marathon,” which will begin on Wednesday, May 8. The program will consist of a round-the-clock dialogue with listeners to explain the importance of opening the missionary Catholic radio in those countries.
The Mariathon will be held in Italy from May 8-10, whereas in the rest of the world it will be held from May 10-12, days on which 60 other broadcasting stations of Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and America will organize a series of global and continental programs characterized by times of prayer, testimony and sharing.
The event can be followed live at www.mariathon.org. The culminating moments will be Eucharistic Adoration in Malawi (Friday, May 10 at 3:00 pm Italian time) and the Rosary in Panama (Saturday, May 11, at 3:00 pm Italian time).
Thus the network of Radio Maria associations in the world widens to five African countries (Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Republic of Guinea), one American country (Haiti) two Asian (China and India) and two European (Ireland and Latvia).
During the press conference, which was held this morning at the international headquarters of the World Family of Radio Maria in the Vatican, the coordinator of the editorial activity of the World Family, Father Francisco Jose Palacios, highlighted Radio Maria’s faithfulness to its original plan: to evangelize through radio, 24 hours a day, through prayer and Christian formation.
Radio Maria’s international structure renders it a true and proper missionary activity, with one peculiarity: “Every one of our national broadcasting stations is coordinated by local people. No one goes abroad to found a new Radio Maria, we think of people already formed in that country,” explained Father Palacios.
“Faith always brings light and a way out of any situation,” added the priest, illustrating the scene in individual countries where the new Radio Maria broadcasting stations will open.
In India, for example, “Christians consist of roughly 1% of the total population and are concentrated in Kerala in the South western part of the country. Private radio broadcasting was introduced recently and we will begin with a Web radio in streaming,” explained Father Palacios.
Macao, instead, is “a multi-cultural island and is the second major city of the world for gambling. Yet amid so many situations that denigrate man, there are those who go against the current,” commented the priest.
Standing out in Europe is the opening in Ireland, a country of renown Catholic tradition, yet in crisis today, and Latvia, where, although Catholics are in the minority, “a spring of faith is being experienced.”
In America, the opening of Radio Maria in Haiti will bring a strong wave of hope. It is a country that is still suffering the consequences of the terrible earthquake of 2010 and where the situation is one of such emergency that “there are those who allow themselves to die and those who kill to survive,” revealed Father Palacios.
Radio Maria’s challenge is to take the values of “respect for life,” “religious tolerance,” formation and education everywhere.
Father Palacios also mentioned the touching case of the attack in Dar Es Salaam, in Tanzania, where, after the murder of a Catholic priest by Muslim fundamentalists, the local Radio Maria reported the messages of solidarity of some members of the Muslim community.
During the press conference, some numbers and logistical aspects of Radio Maria were illustrated by Luisa Bixio, who is in charge of communication and of fundraising for the World Family of Radio Maria. She explained that an estimated € 3 million were needed to open the 11 new offices.
The World Family of Radio Maria, she added, was born as an NGO in 1998 for the purpose of coordinating the various Radio Maria’s already present in the world. Radio Maria is active in 63 countries in all five continents. The station benefits from the fundamental work of the “hundreds of volunteers who are committed in every country with great respect for the local cultures.”
Radio Maria, which has never been a commercial radio but “lives only on charity,” has the merit of having “brought information to countries where before there was none and, in 26 years of activity, it has “provided a service as Marian and missionary radio at the service of the Church of Rome,” said Bixio.
In this regard, Father Palacios specified that Radio Maria has never received financial support from any diocese in the world, yet the bond with the local Churches and the Religious Orders is very close, in as much as the directors are always chosen among the priests of the area, just as the national presidents are always chosen among the laity.