Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Prayer and Pasta in Hollywood

The following was shared by Fr. Willy Raymond of Family Theater Productions. Prayer and Pasta is a prayer group for young Catholics in the entertainment industry. They meet one Wednesday every month for - you guessed it - prayer and pasta.

Here is Fr. Willy's email:

Hello and a Great Thanksgiving to you and your family,

Our Friend, Leo Severino, is flying in from New York and will be here tonight on the Eve of Thanksgiving for a special Going Deeper. Please come and bring a friend. We are at 7201 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood, CA. There is parking in the lot off Formosa. Look for a billboard that says "The Family That Prays Together Stays Together" or "A World at Prayer is a World at Peace."

Last week was a very special celebration of Prayer and Pasta with guest speaker Laurie Hutzler. Her website is She shared her method of exploring and developinig characters to help writers create "deeper, richer and more vivd characters." She had a wonderful presentation that was faith-filled as well. Thank you Laurie.

Special thanks to Liz Travale for cooking the very best meal -in my opinion - we have had at Prayer and Pasta in the three years of existence. Thanks also to Elena, Lance, Robyn {Sous chef} and all who helped with the program and clean up.

Prayer and Pasta for December will move to Friday December 15th so that we can celebrate with all the friends of Family Theater an Advent- Christmas festival of song and food and faith. Please consider this a personal invitation to you and your friends to join us for the Prayer and Pasta/Family Theater/Going Deeper/Callback Christmas celebration. Begins Friday December 15 at 6:30 PM. You are welcome to bring a gift or toy for children who might otherwise be going without this Christmas.

Remember, tonight there is Going Deeper at 8 PM. There will be Prayer at 7 PM in the Chapel for those who come early.

God bless,
Fr. Willy

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hollywood Does Have a Prayer - The Hollywood Prayer Network Story

by Hope Frances

As Catholics, we know that daily prayer is essential to our personal spiritual growth. Television producer Karen Covell saw the importance of prayer on an even larger scale - for the spiritual growth of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Thus was born the Hollywood Prayer Network.

The Hollywood Prayer Network officially began in 2001, however, Karen and her husband started forming prayer groups back in the 1980's.

"Eight of us got together in 1982 and started praying. That group has been praying for 24 years now. We've always had a desire to have prayer as a foundation here."

Through the years, that group has witnessed the power of prayer.

"First, God started revealing other believers in the industry who were just afraid to say they were. We started saying, 'We want to get them out of the closet.' So 16 years ago my husband and I started teaching a class in our home called, How To Talk About Jesus Without Freaking Out. We bring in about 10 - 15 people at a time for 10 weeks and just build each other up in our faith."


As Director of HPN, Karen Covell views Hollywood as a mission field. "I started the Hollywood Prayer Network because I believe we can change the media, but it has to be God who changes it. We have to do it from the inside out. I realized years ago we have to pray for God to change the hearts of the people in media. Then, when their hearts change their content will change"

She saw three areas where change needed to happen in order to have an effect on the quality of film and television programs that are produced. First, she saw a lot of people in the entertainment business searching for God. Second, she saw the need for a support system for actors, writers, directors and others pursuing a career in entertainment while, thirdly, not compromising their Christian morals along the way.

And, her solution - PRAYER!

"It's been really exciting. We see God out of the blue telling people to pray for Hollywood when they don't even know why. We know it's a result of prayer that God puts on their hearts, 'Pray for those people there.' And then we get a chance to say, 'Oh great! You have that desire. Now we'll help you do it.'"

With over 5,000 members praying worldwide, this organization witnesses changes in the entertainment industry on a daily basis.

"We've seen more people meet God in the industry. There are more people hungry for Jesus here. We've seen Christians feel more empowered to be here because they have more support," said Karen.

Their prayers for a change in programming are definitely making an impact on the industry.

"What we're seeing a lot of now is Christians in place in different TV shows where they are effecting content." According to Karen, negative story lines have been stopped through prayer and even more change is anticipated.

"It takes these steps first to build a foundation of faith. Then we will see as people are changing how it reflects in the content of the product. I believe we will see a spiritual revival in Hollywood. We're seeing so much happening now that we haven't seen before."


Anyone across the globe can have an impact on Hollywood through prayer. Through the simple, yet mighty act of prayer you can help to influence the media.

There are a variety of ways to make a difference. One of the simplest is by contacting HPN and requesting a sticker for your television remote that says "Pray For This Show."

The organization also has a monthly e-mail to its members listing which issues to pray for "so people see on the inside what's going on in Hollywood and how they can be praying. Then God can start changing these people through prayers."

For those currently working in the industry, the Hollywood Prayer Network is an invaluable resource for ministries.

"We have the ministry group brochure that we give to people to make sure that they are a part of the Christian community so that they can get that foundation of support."

There is also the "I-to-I" Prayer Partnership in which a person outside of the entertainment industry is partnered with a person inside.

"We have over 500 of those prayer partnerships now. My goal is to have every Christian in Hollywood prayed for by somebody."

HPN has another program, the Incognito Prayer Team, in which you can pray for a certain celebrity or decision-maker in Hollywood. It's incognito in that the person doesn't know that they are being prayed for. Once you join the IPT, they will send you more information on the celebrity so that your prayers can be more specific.

In addition to the IPT, you can also pray for specific people in Hollywood by requesting a Media Leader Prayer Calendar. Mastermedia International publishes a calendar listing every day of the year and the name of a media leader and a cultural influencer whom you can pray for each day. You may request this calendar through HPN.

Lastly, you can make a difference by getting involved through a local chapter. And, if one doesn't exist where you live, you can start you own through HPN using their list of guidelines. Chapters have been established in cities across the United States and in countries such as the United Kingdom, Uganda and Thailand. Every local chapter receives a free web page on the HPN website to post contact information.

"I just want people to put Jesus first - over anything," Karen said. "He gives us gifts and talents to use, not only for our own joy and the joy of others, but I think also to bring us into different areas of the world where He can use us for His kingdom."

As always, God shines brighter than all the stars in Hollywood.

For more information on the Hollywood Prayer Network please visit their website at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Paul Harrigan: Evangelizing Catholic Youth Through Song

By Hope Frances

Keeping Catholic youth alive in their faith is often challenging as they confront the growing pains of adolescence and the pressures of the world today. Catholic musician Paul Harrigan uses his music ministry to reach out to teens and encourage them to keep their fire for the Lord alive and burning bright. His passion is evangelizing through his music to youth and young adults.

"Young adults are the future leaders of this world, and the world has many very attractive allurements that will take them away from God and their faith. I think we need to reach out to them at this stage in their lives because it can be a time of rebellion against authority, especially parents," Paul said.

Singing God’s Good News

Paul sings the good news of the Lord with his band Holywood as well as solo acoustic sets.

"Holywood is a hybrid band. Henryk Chrostek is the lead guitar player who also plays in Light In The Lord at Holy Redeemer Church. Also in the band are bass player Mike Perry and drummer John Severino."

"Having grown up in a family of ten kids, (eight boys) my musical taste draws from an eclectic pot to be sure. I would classify my music as pop, rock, praise & worship Holy Spirit driven!"

The most profound experience for Paul and Holywood was the invitation they received to play at World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany last year.

"We felt it was an incredible blessing for us to be invited to participate in the event that bears the legacy of John Paul II. World Youth Day was created by the late pontiff in an effort to join together the youth of the world in celebration of their faith. He felt the youth was the future of not only the church, but of the world."

"We performed in a venue called Leverkusen. Some of our military stationed in Germany were there with their families. Youth from different places throughout the world attended the concert. We also performed in concert for an audience that gathered to hear Jim Caviezel's testimony and view a special screening of 'The Passion of the Christ.' We had the grace of performing live, impromptu concerts in Cologne at the beautiful cathedral - The Dome. On the steps of the cathedral were thousands of youth that were on fire for their faith."

"In addition, we broke out the guitars on the train. We ministered hopefully to some people who may not otherwise have been exposed to Catholic-Christian music."

Of his band Holywood, Paul said the members have been "absolutely phenomenally faithful to the music and to the ministry." Their most recent concert was held at Holy Redeemer Church in Montrose. They kicked off the new youth program at the church with parishioners ranging from 8 - 80 years old in attendance. Paul can also be found singing and playing percussion there every Sunday at their youth mass.

Radio Ministry

Paul also reaches out to the youth through the powerful medium of radio. He is a co-host, along with Eddie Perez, on a one-hour show through El Sembrador Catholic Radio entitled Generation Connexion. The program is broadcast live every Wednesday from 6 - 7 pm.

"It's designed to bridge the gap between youth and the older generations. We talk some religion, some politics, entertainment and life in Southern California and in the United States. Again, it's a way to evangelize and share our faith and love for Christ and His church. I play a couple of acoustic songs, which is fun. I'm writing some new songs to present to the youth in that forum."

"There's a trust that develops between the listener and the radio personality and that can be really beneficial when you're trying to get the message across, especially to some impressionable youth."

Blogging the Youth

Judging from the positive feedback of the Generation Connexion blog featured on this website, Paul is definitely reaching the youth.

"Young people have written to us through the blog on They have said that they really enjoy what we're doing and it encourages them. I think that's the real test - when you hear from the youth themselves writing to us and telling us that we are making a difference in their lives and in their world. That really is an awesome thing to hear."

Paul is also involved in ministering to the youth through a confirmation class at a local parish. "

The idea is to try and introduce these kids to Catholic-Christian music they haven't really heard before or if they have, they don't listen to it regularly. We just enjoy going there and showing our love for Jesus Christ and His church through song."

Paul knows the importance of keeping kids alive in their faith as they move towards adulthood. He shares his faith and love for Jesus Christ with Southern California youth through song - from the heart and the depth of his soul.

He hopes to "keep reaching out and evangelizing youth that it's cool to be Catholic."

Once again proving that…God shines brighter than all the stars in Hollywood.

(For more information on Paul Harrigan and his band Holywood, please visit his website at

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Family Theater Productions - Furthering God's Presence in Hollywood

By Hope Frances

Father Willy Raymond is the National Director of Family Theater Productions. His organization hosted the 2006 Angelus Awards that was held recently in Hollywood, CA. After attending the awards ceremony, I became interested in finding out more about the history, goals and mission of this wonderful organization that hosted the event.


Family Theater Productions, part of Holy Cross Family Ministries, was born out of a blessing in disguise. In the 1930's a young immigrant from Ireland, Patrick Peyton, was diagnosed with terminal tuberculosis while he was studying for the priesthood. Essentially, he was told to prepare for the end of his life.

According to Fr. Willy the young seminarian, "prayed to God through the intercession of the Blessed Mother that if it were God's will he would be healed through her prayers and her assistance." His recovery was nothing short of a miracle. The doctors were "flabbergasted."


In 1941 Patrick Peyton was ordained a priest and with his new lease on life, Fr. Peyton was on a mission to spread the message that "a world at prayer is a world at peace."

In pursuit of his passion, on Mother's Day 1945 Fr. Peyton produced a special half-hour program on the Mutual Broadcasting System. He used a popular medium - radio - to evangelize.

His inaugural show on that Mother's Day included Bing Crosby, President Truman and the mother of the Sullivan brothers who had lost five sons in World War II on the same ship. Families were led in praying a decade of the rosary on that very first broadcast. It was so well received that Mutual offered him a weekly half-hour show.

In 1947 Fr. Peyton moved to Hollywood and started Family Theater Productions. Each performance included a major Hollywood personality. A huge success, the radio series lasted 22 years and included over 400 Hollywood actors from Grace Kelly and Loretta Young to Bing Crosby, Raymond Burr and Ronald Reagan.

It was the longest-running radio broadcast in Mutual's history.


Fr. Peyton was also involved in film and television. James Dean got his first on-screen credit with Family Theater in a one-hour television drama called "Hill Number One." And Grace Kelly's final television appearance before she died was in a Family Theater program.

In 1992 Fr. Peyton died in San Pedro, California at the age of 83. He has been named "Servant of God" and "his cause for beatification has been introduced in Rome."

After Fr. Peyton's death, Family Theater Productions went through "a succession of priests who came out here and would last 9 months or a year."

Finally in September of 2000 Fr. Willy Raymond took the helm in an effort to carry out the work that Fr. Peyton started. Prior to his role as National Director, Fr. Willy worked as a priest in higher education at Stonehill College and in the leadership of the Holy Cross Eastern Province.


"It's really a ministry of the Catholic Church and I think it's so important to be right in the middle of Hollywood," Fr. Willy said.

"Film and the media are shaping the popular culture all around the world - sometimes for good and sometimes for evil. And we think that because film is so important in shaping our culture that we should be engaged, especially with young people who are involved in this industry, because they're the future of Hollywood. Many of them would love to know about the Good News and about Jesus, the Holy Trinity and the Catholic Church. So, we try to invite them to programs have outreach to them to make sure that they know they are welcome and that there's a place right in the middle of Hollywood where they can come safely and go deeper into their faith."

The Angelus Student Film Festival has been a huge success and has helped pave the way for many of Hollywood's future filmmakers. Another major project for Family Theater Productions is their national billboard campaign which furthers one of Fr. Peyton's slogans, 'The Family That Prays Together Stays Together. '


Family Theater also sponsors a special RCIA program for people in the entertainment industry. Additionally, they host a program based on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body and a seminar series entitled 'Going Deeper' which is "an attempt to present the Catholic faith in its fullest to those who want to know more about it."

Also, once a month on a Wednesday night there is a Prayer and Pasta gathering where people in the entertainment industry can meet and share their faith with other Catholics.
Family Theater Productions also offers individual spiritual direction and can help steer young people in the right direction to continue their faith life in pursuit of their Hollywood goals.

According to Fr. Willy, "Most of the programs are for Catholics and they emphasize how they must bring their faith to work with them and not leave it at home."

The hard-working Family Theater staff of 10 full-time employees works out of a building located in the middle of Hollywood, which has its own screening room, recording studio and chapel. A noon mass is held at the chapel on weekdays as well as a holy hour every Thursday from 4 - 5 pm. The public is welcome to attend both the mass and the holy hour.


In addition to the Angelus Awards, the national billboard campaign and all of the outreach programs sponsored through Family Theater Productions, they also produce radio broadcasts in Spanish for both domestic and international markets as well as film and television shows.
One of the biggest challenges for Fr. Willy as National Director is "trying to do all of those well and still be available to Catholics and others in the entertainment industry that need a spiritual home."

He continues by saying, "You shouldn't check your faith at the parking garage when you go to your executive office or onto the production set. So our purpose of being involved, especially with the young filmmakers in the Angelus Awards, is that we know they're the future of Hollywood. We want to be in a relationship with them that encourages them to really take seriously their faith and to bring that to bear in making choices about what kind of films they are going to do, how they're going to treat people on the set and how they're going to honor the human dignity that we all share."

When asked what his biggest success has been thus far, Fr. Willy said, "I think the biggest success is the growing awareness that Family Theater is here and that all these different individuals and groups of young people in Hollywood kind of see it as a home that you can come to for advice."

As for the long-term goals of Family Theater, Fr. Willy said, "I would like to make sure that Family Theater is always at the service of the mission of the church. The mission of the church in the simplest rendition is to evangelize. That's what Pope Paul VI said. That's what Pope John Paul II said. That's what Pope Benedict says and that's what Vatican II said. That's what Jesus said. 'Go forth and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.' That's the essence of the church."


Fr. Willy adds, "The most powerful medium that I know of on earth today is film. Whether it's television or the large screen or the internet, film is reaching into every corner of the earth and I think it's so important for Hollywood and the film industry to be responsible in a way that uses all of the resources it has and the incredible wealth that is here in this town. This is the media capital and really the film capital of the world. What we do here is I think among the most important missions of the church in the world."

"If we are faithful to exploring what is really truthful we end up at the feet of this good God."

Again... God shines brighter than all the stars in Hollywood!

(For more information on Family Theater Productions and how to become involved in faith life in Hollywood, please visit their website by clicking here.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Catholic Musicians to Perform In Southern California On Nov. 4

"A New Generation With The Immaculata - Catholic Prayer, Catholic Music, Food & Fellowship"

Catholic Musicians scheduled to Play:
Steve Martinez, Paul Harrigan, Fred D. Solario & Jeff Wilhelm

Saturday, November 4, 2006, 6:00pm

Crusade Santa Ana:
918 E. Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92701