WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops’ video promoting priestly vocations — called by one viewer “the best look at the priesthood I have ever seen on film” — was named winner of the Gabriel Award.
“Fishers of Men,” an 18-minute DVD that is part of a vocational recruitment project launched last year by the U.S. episcopal conference, received today the Gabriel Award in California, given by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals.
More than 60,000 copies of the video, produced by Grassroots Films of Brooklyn, New York, have been distributed. The bishops’ project takes into account that a 2007 survey sponsored by the vocations secretariat reported that 80% of newly ordained priests in the United States say a priest invited them to consider the vocation.
“I thought it was extremely moving,” said the U.S. bishops’ conference general secretary, Monsignor David Malloy, “and it sort gave that great reminder for why we got in this in the first place. In fact, I would love for my nephews to see it at some point.”
The video, combining images, music and testimonies, reveals many elements of the daily life of a priest. A dramatic representation of a priest giving last rites to a dying boy shows how the example of the priests’ ministry can inspire vocations.
Another viewer, David Morton, said he was “moved to tears.”
Joseph Campo, producer of “Fishers of Men,” said the production staff has “always had a positive view and appreciation of the Catholic priesthood throughout the world, and we are grateful for the opportunity to portray what it means to be a priest in the film, ‘Fishers of Men.'”
“Serious filmmakers always work to produce something of extraordinary artistic quality,” he continued. “When the work can serve a noble goal such as inviting men to the priesthood, it’s doubly rewarding for the artists.”
Monsignor Edward Burns, executive director of the episcopal conference’s Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, noted the broad reception of the DVD and the project.
“This program has reached almost 50% of our dioceses and is now going international,” he said. “Nineteen countries have contacted us regarding this program. It is not only a resource for the church in the United States but hopefully a resource for the Church universal. The testimonies of young men who have watched this production have made it all worthwhile.”
Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, chairman of the episcopal Committee on Vocations, said the project has exceeded expectations.
“’Fishers of Men’ has appeal across the board and reminds all Catholics why they treasure their priests,” Bishop Cupich said. “Anyone interested in the priesthood, whatever his age, responds to the DVD’s message: The priesthood is a call to service.
“With modern cinematography the filmmakers have captured the timeless calling of the priesthood: Follow and be like Jesus.”
The trailer of the video can be seen at http://ccc.usccb.org/video/fishers_of_men1.wmv.