Two Holy Cross students win top award for Sunday mass video
Chicago Archbishop Francis Cardinal George (right) and Reverend Ronald J. Lewinski of St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish (left center) congratulate 1st place filmmakers Matthew Jones (right center) and William Lederer of Holy Cross Parish | Brian J. Mor
Updated: March 7, 2013 1:26PM
DEERFIELD — Matthew Jones and William Lederer, III, partnered this winter to spread the “Good News” and then got some news themselves.
The Archdiocese of Chicago selected the Deerfield teens’ homemade video, “Manifestation of the Mass,” as the winner of a contest on the importance of Sunday Mass.
The video uses scripture and images of services at Holy Cross Catholic Church to express the role church can play in the lives of youth.
“Just to win anything is exciting in the first place,” Lederer, 17, said. “It was a cool way to push each other to get to mass, and to take that one hour of peace in our week.”
Chicago Archbishop Francis Cardinal George presented the video winners with their awards during a Parish Leadership Day celebration Feb. 23.
In addition to splitting the $5,000 prize, the teens received a letter of gratitude from the archbishop encouraging them to continue using their technical abilities to showcase faith.
The video contest was co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls and ACTA: Foundation for Adult Catechetical Teaching Aid.
Two private donors provided prize money for first, second and third place winners and an honorable mention. Matching awards were also given to the Catholic parish or school designated by the winners.
The archdiocese received 45 original two-minute videos created by 135 teens from 36 parishes in Lake and Cook counties.
Sponsoring the video contest was part of the local Catholic church’s four-year strategic pastoral plan, which this year emphasizes Sunday Mass.
Under the plan the archdiocese developed resources for Catholics to understand their motivation for attending the weekly service, and to help parishes better celebrate mass with usher training guides, music materials, and homily ideas.
“The Sunday Mass of course is the central piece of what we do as Catholics,” said Nancy Polacek, coordinator for the strategic pastoral plan. “It’s formation, it’s celebration, and it’s motivation.”
The video contest tied together last year’s strategic priority, youth and young adults.
Polacek said the contest’s requirements encouraged kids to get away from sitting in a basement to make a movie.
Entrants were asked to prayerfully reflect in small groups on when the mass was important to them, and to show their self-produced video to other teens and for feedback.
“The process itself was very formative,” Polacek said. “It wasn’t just about a product.”
“It was a way to share their passion and reverence for the Eucharist to friends.”
The 10-person judging panel – which included teens, priests, film creators, a religion teacher and a youth minister – rated the videos based on content, creativity, clarity and knowledge of the mass.
There were no ties for the top 10 videos, Polacek said, and Holy Cross’ submission was the clear winner.
Rev. Vincent Costello, Holy Cross’ pastor, applauded how Jones and Lederer effectively showcased a longtime Catholic ritual.
“The weekend liturgy reminds us who we are and whose we are,” he explained. “It’s what (Jesus Christ) asked us to do on the night he died.
“For two millennia we’ve been following the Lord’s command.”
The video-making duo took turns recording, focusing on “the salient points in mass,” Lederer said.
They recruited a friend to provide voice-over narration of Bible quotes related to different aspects of mass, and relied on other youth for feedback.
Approximately 250 teens participate in the Holy Cross Youth Ministry.
Becky Phillips, Holy Cross’ director of the Faith Formation Office for Children and Youth, said the result depicted the different faces of the congregation.
“Every age, everyone is part of the community,” she said. “That’s who we are as Catholics.”
Attending mass is a weekly tradition of Lederer’s family. He said Sunday services brighten the week, and provide “that extra push to get homework done to relax on the weekend.”
In addition to going to church weekly, 16-year-old Jones said participating in the parish’s youth ministry was a natural way to extend his Holy Cross School education.
“Holy Cross is one of the places where that part of my life can be fostered,” he said.