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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Fighting the good fight

It is not just Westminster where there is a shortage of Catholic priests. There they have resorted to advertising on beermats in the hope of attracting the right sort of applicant. In America the Catholic Church are making it clear that entering the priesthood is not just a vocation but a continuous fight against evil. They have turned to the film The Matrix for the inspiration for a series of adverts that portrays the priest in full cassock -- and the requisite Roman collar -- holding a cross in one hand and a rosary in the other. And he is wearing sunglasses.

'Father Meyer said the poster, on which he is featured as the "Matrix"-style priest, had its origins in a skit that he saw during his first year at the North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome. The skit, put on by a group of older seminarians, was based on the film. In it, a group of priests fought Satan in a series of mock martial-arts confrontations.'

The concept seems to be a major success, but it is unclear how many new priests have emerged from the campaign. Still, image is everything, as they say:

Father Meyer said it got a huge response. "They were going like hotcakes. Young kids wanted them to hang in their bedrooms, high school students wanted them to hang in their lockers," he said. "That is invaluable. If we can get kids to hang a picture of a priest in their room, we've done something huge for vocations."

The response, though, seems to make sense to him. It appeals to people at a level that everyone appears to share. "People love heroes. The poster personifies the priest as a hero," he said.

And it speaks of a faith that meets people exactly where they are in their lives. The poster itself says, in a parody of the words which any watcher of videos knows by heart, "This faith has not been modified from its original version. Yet, it is formatted to fit your life."
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